I’ve finished! I can now call myself a Social Worker, with the piece of paper to prove it, the transcript that shows four years worth of courses and late-night essays and months of placements. Done!
Sooo….what now? Who am I, if I’m not a student anymore? So much of my identity was (is) wrapped up in being a high-achieving, HD-scoring, super-involved student. I will graduate with 1st class honours and a string of extra credits, but no job. What?! That wasn’t the plan! I’ve been looking for jobs since September, because ‘obviously’, in my high achiever, go go go mind, I wasn’t going to take a break after study. I was going to finish, graduate and get right onto changing the world.
WELL. That hasn’t happened. My perfect transcript doesn’t really count for much, in fact, many community sector jobs list qualifications as ‘desirible’ rather than ‘essential’. Which is depressing given I have been at uni for 4 years and have a $20k debt. Then there’s the driving thing. Apparently, being a social worker is not about people skills, or advocacy, or supporting people through the shitty times in life: it’s driving clients from A to B. Again, a four year degree to…drive people to Centrelink? About 90% of ads list a driver’s licence as essential, and regardless of whether that’s true or not, I don’t drive yet. Thanks, epilepsy. I’ve had two job offers retracted because, despite clearly stating this fact, people don’t register it. It’s like a foreign concept, like not driving is equivalent to being unqualified. ‘Oh…we just assumed you could drive…oh yes I see it’s written here…well, sorry. Come back when you have a licence’. Part of me wants to scream, “DISCRIMINATION!’ in their faces, but the reality is that I’m a new graduate and they know I’m not going to make waves about it.
It is so FRUSTRATING. I’m so ready for this, I’ve worked so hard, I want to be out there using my skills and just…nothing. Well meaning people say things like, ‘your time will come’ or ‘just think of these stumbling blocks as stepping stones’, and I want to scream. I’ve never been in this situation before. Everything I’ve set my mind to, I’ve worked hard for and gotten it- jobs, scholarships, everything. It’s really hard not to spiral into self loathing- what’s wrong with me? Why are other people getting jobs and not me? I’m a failure.
I may well be unemployed for the next few months, until I- hopefully, all things going to plan (huh)- get my licence in March. I don’t know how I’m going to cope with that. I’m a lot more resilient that I was just a year or so ago, but it still hurts like hell, and I still feel useless and out of control. I’ll keep churning out applications and hopefully get one of the rare-as-hen’s-teeth jobs that don’t require driving. I hate having to rely on hope and the discretion of others instead of skill and experience, it makes me feel completely shit and more disempowered than ever. But I don’t have a choice.