So, they said that coming back after travelling was going to be hard. But I was ready. I wanted to go back. I was eager and I had a plan. And coming back was wonderful! I could do my yoga practice every day, it was great being with my family again and I started teaching yoga (semi) regularly for the first time and really enjoyed it.
I actually told myself I wouldn’t start seriously hunting for job until after the New Year (I got back in late October) to give myself time to readjust and focus on yoga but somehow job opportunities seemed to be falling into my lap. I went to a ‘Hackathon’ (a two day event where you quickly design a build a new digital product) and through that a really exciting opportunity at a well respected company seemed imminent. My dream design agency met me for coffee, and finally I experienced what looking for jobs when you have experience must be like. Looking for jobs had been horrendous right after I graduated but with 2 years solid experience under my belt, it was going to be a breeze. I worried about how I would choose if I got offered both.
Panic sets in
Then somehow January and half of February happened and I still didn’t have a job. What had gone wrong? The hackathon job was still rumbling on, no sign of a decision in sight. And at least I’d got an interview for that one, I’d been rejected for many other similar roles: “We know you’ll be disappointed but…”. The coffee turned out to be an informal chat.
I started to look at my original Tier 2 companies with longing. What wouldn’t I give to be working there. I wish I’d applied earlier. I’d already turned myself into a User Researcher and an Interaction Designer, now I was to be a Content Designer and a UX Researcher. No one understood that I was ALL OF THESE THINGS AND MORE. Actually, if anything, I’d like to be a Service Designer, so there.
The single most bizarre experience of the whole thing to date is mindlessly sending off my CV to nameless recruiters advertising an “exiting UX opportunity in a fast-paced design agency in the city centre”, wiping the tears off my face as I despaired if I’d be able to find anything. Moments later, weeping into my pillow in what I can only hope is the lowest moment of the job search (it wasn’t).
…Only to be woken up from my afternoon nap to a chatty guy named Dave who thought he might have a job for me. I was still feeling slightly dizzy whenever I went to the loo (I had a virus all week), but I chatted animatedly to Peter (“Oh me? I single handedly turning around the fate of my company through UX design”) and he thought he might have a job for me. So did James and Nigel the next morning. Andrew even thought I had a great portfolio and thought I would fit in great at a company that didn’t try to make gambling more addictive and encourage rampant consumerism.
I was suddenly having real chats with real people who were chasing me about jobs and thought I was a bloody good prospect. It felt totally unsettling, absurd, bizarre and unbalanced, but not all together unpleasant. I felt a strong need for yoga, which I hadn’t been doing owing to being ill, and also the vague sense I was on the wrong path. How I had fallen from the high ideals of my earlier job search, of my passionate idealist self coming back home to change society for the better through design?
A sad reality
Interacting with the real world is hard. Being judged and found inadequate is hard. My expansive hopes and dreams were squeezed into so many different boxes, I wasn’t sure where I was anymore. I imagined so many different future realities, bringing UX design to the NHS by stealth and becoming a Project Manager, moving across the country, getting a minimum wage Healthcare Assistant job to get on the ground experience…it was exhausting.
What seemed so simple, dreaming my dreams in Rishikesh, turned out not to be. Coming back from travelling to the UK to the warm embrace of my family and friends was not hard. Re-entering the world of work was. And it was about to get harder.