Bring on that light!
So the fog of this crazy time is lifting...well at least in my mind. Although it looks like London might dip back into level 3 restrictions again over Christmas, we have the Christmas tree up and the house is being injected with that pine scent. I grew up with an artificial tree, so the feeling of a real tree does make a difference. Our tree was huge, so it had that going for it.
The nibbles are starting in terms of job openings so things are looking brighter. It's curious how one can feel so much lighter when there is momentum and productivity.
Today I was supposed to be in Paris and in the midst of a tour of France, Belgium and Luxembourg singing in a show called Era and featuring some big names in commercial music. The shows, produced by Livenation are postponed for the end of next year but I am definitely in France in spirit today.
After a long break, 9 months, I'll be performing again in an opera gala concert for King's Head Theatre. 9 months without performing in front of a live audience and IN THE FLESH! I mean I had a taste of it a few months back performing one duet with Honey for a live recording of a charity concert for the good folks at Noah's Ark Children's Hospice but these concerts on 21 December are different because they are 75 minute shows - lots of airtime in that performance zone I've grown to miss.
For performers, 2020 will always be known as the year of forced rest. In my case, I definitely needed a break and reinvigorate my love for being in front of an audience and making them feel all sorts of things. Yes, can't wait!
Adjusting the mindset
Is the glass half full or empty?...an old time question.
Recent conversations with those around me have turned the personality mirror onto me...I see the glass as half empty. We are generally asked to be positive and keep pushing forward. In my successes and moments of clarity and carefreeness, sure, I've been a beacon of positivity but does anyone else feel that we are under the microscope sometimes?
The hold that the caronavirus has on the world hopefully will ease off soon. The battle of the vaccines have begun and that is uplifting - so uplifting.
As I search for more and more internships - there is a trend - the essential requirement is that only people who are finishing their undergraduate studies may apply. The next paragraph is always a sentence about being inclusive...it is beginning to look all comical.
But you know what: rather than turn the car around, let's drive into the storm and find other ways to land the roles that really appeal to me.
Positivity is a muscle - so let's flex, twist, push and pull!
Gotta start somewhere...
So it's time to finally jump over the rope of uncomfortability - this process needs a fancy title after all. There is a hesitation when writing about oneself. I don't want to come across as a winger or just down on my luck but I get the attraction people have to blogging and how it can potentially release emotional and mental blocks. I hope this leads to clarity and distracts you from whatever is going on in your world. I will talk in the first person and direct commentary in the direction of you, the audience I cannot see or hear (but hopefully will engage with in time). I'm sitting here yet again at my computer screen trawling through job vacancies and internships...so many sectors, so many variations of the same job title, where does it end?
At this stage of the 'corona' hold on the world. COVID-19...this is like watching a really bad tv show from episode 19: nothing makes sense, some dodgy and boring characters have already been written out and the storyline seems to be unstable because we have none of the back story. The prequel show was SARS apparently...but life didn't stop in any way for me then.
It is hard to see the light at the end of the job insecurity tunnel. I have found myself thinking about the post WW2 situation faced by my grandparents. Their stories of emigrating to better lands, in their cases Melbourne, Australia, seemed like almost abstract concepts at the time: they worked to the bone to enable their children opportunities of education and pursuing a 'profession'. Then it was assumed their grandchildren would simply be on the road to immersion (or the dirty word assimilation) into the new county's way of life and have comfortable and structured lives with enough time to enjoy time as well. I heard stories of community balls and clubs: "that's how I met your beautiful grandmother!". There wasn't any swiping; no nightclubs; no uni barbecues in those stories! It was fruit vendors and radio factories. To add to that, many family members, cousins, friends and even the occasional semi arranged married couples would emigrate together - or split things up and send money back to the mother country in order to eventually bring the whole family over. My dad didn't see his dad for about 7 years and so was essentially brought up by his grandmother and the teachers at school in Reggio di Calabria: you know, the tip of the boot that is Italy.
Those post WW2 days, right up to the 1960's, seemed like simpler times. The mentality made sense: my country is in ruins and there isn't enough work and money to go round and support the family. "So let's follow the rumours and propaganda and hop on ships to North America or Australia!" They worked in factories and agriculture. Through those activities they could work together and build their community. I think of those times and marvel at just how these themes repeat themselves.
I was a working professional classical and cross-over singer. The truth is I was looking to broaden my horizons and find other work. I had followed the template described above: went to private school and graduated with two degrees, a BA and an LLB and even became a fully qualified lawyer. But fortunately for me, I had real potential as a musician and singer and had parents who supported me and encouraged me to reach for the opera stars. Yes I performed all around the world and have countless stories to tell. But I had no intention to leave singing: I simply wanted to shift the balance and make singing enjoyable and a passion again whilst having a career or job which could financially support me, my wife and hopefully a family.
THEN CARONA HAPPENED! My contracts to work in London, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Australia, Russia ALL went up in smoke. None of this is a particularly special story - so many friends in the arts have been getting a real shellacking this year. However, I then thought that perhaps this means singing needs to finally get put to rest. So I dusted off my legal knowledge and subscribed to a law course to prepare me for the bar exam here in the UK. Here’s the rub: even if I pass the exam, I would still face the problem of having a '9 Year Gap' in my resume. Believe it or not, companies and firms are not sure how to transfer the skills of a touring performing artist to their business - even if they have two university degrees and legal qualifications. No matter how many 'Statements' of Diversity and Inclusion one reads, it is fair stretch to include people from seemingly alien industries. Ironically I never did quite identified ONLY as a performing artist.
The long hard thinking began...
So I started 9 Year Gap podcast as a way to understand how people change careers and how they make it work. Time and again, as I will say in upcoming episodes, it is all about being introduced to someone; contacts; discovering a new skill. Some of the guests have even worked in recruiting and yet there has been no discussion of the formal recruitment process. Does this mean that the self starter, the bold individual who wants to draw their own future on their own terms can only do so outside of the formal recruitment process?
It would be much simpler to find a job in a factory or a farm like my grandparents. There used to be a time when I could rely on hospitality - walk into a cafe or restaurant and meet the owner, shake their hand, give them my CV and I'd leave with my shifts for next week. But moving about isn't so simple with COVID-19 around. Everything is online and I have to say, it all seems rather artificial.
If you had a job before carona, you could move it online, but if you didn't, then you're up the bug...well I think you know what I'm trying to say :p
The podcast introduced me to my real voice - one where I have an opinion and can really connect and share in peoples' wonderful insights and stories. Introducing and interviewing people I am curious about and admire is truly a special and liberating act.
So yes, I want to work in communication and the media. I have concepts for radio and tv shows - all clear in my mind. But you can't just stroll on in and be somebody in the media. The saturation of social media and YouTube makes success rather illusive. It's amazing that we can all produce and create podcasts and shows etc. However, the convenience applies to everyone - therefore, there are a lot of people putting their videos out there. This will not deter me from continuing to put out material on YouTube and episodes of the podcast on Apple, Spotify and the rest. But the issue which is stressful and alarming is financial security.
So, back to thinking. I loved my degree in Geography and Environmental Science. I also love the function of a corporation - the potential for success and personal growth is enormous in that setting. So, in terms a secure career path - I am on the search for internships for companies and organisations. Yes, that broad. I have the burden of being interested in many things but I truly believe that if we are good at something we tend to like it.
Ok, where do I stand at the moment:
- Legal industry: DEFINITELY YES because I have all the professional training and interest in the industry to keep trying to land a position
- Singing and performing : YES (but NOT to rely on for income)
- Broadcasting: DEFINITELY YES (but have to accept it as a passion for now and build my portfolio)
- Voiceover: KEEP SENDING IN AUDITIONS
- Presenting/MC: WHEN I CAN (when carona is no longer a problem, I will be jumping at opportunities to do this)
- Internships: YES (because without the required experience, organisations can really only offer an internship)
- Job for money: YES NUMBER 1 (this is not a choosy process - gotta put my skills and work ethic to use and work in anything I safely can)
About the Author
Rob has a few strings to his bow - two degrees, qualified lawyer, international singer and entertainer, podcaster and writer. He's asking himself: where is it all leading? It would help if Rob didn't find almost everything interesting! He'll tell his story, talk about his mistakes and share his journey to find a job. Maybe you can join in too? ;)