Skip to main content

FH officeThere is an unfor­tu­nate assump­tion out there that Gen­er­a­tion Y has a poor work eth­ic. Give it a quick Google search and you will find pages upon pages of blogs and art­icles describ­ing how employ­ers can basic­ally cope with man­aging Gen Y employ­ees (the most com­mon answer seems to be micromanaging).

Hello, my name is Liz, and I believe that I am an excep­tion to the neg­at­ive stigma giv­en to me by the lacklustre effort of my peers. Indeed, you may find after read­ing this that even that gen­er­al repu­ta­tion isn’t all that deserved.

Now, I do have a con­fes­sion to make. I don’t work my fresh-out-of-uni­ver­sity-butt off because I love nev­er hav­ing a day off. Heck, I’m writ­ing this art­icle on a Sunday after­noon after hav­ing spent a night out — not on the town, but work­ing in a busy café until way past my bed­time. I’m actu­ally giv­ing into one of the more pos­it­ive ste­reo­types of my gen­er­a­tion — ven­tur­ing out of the nest to go on my big OE! And, of course, that costs money — a lot of money. OK, con­fes­sion time round two: my OE includes only a one-way tick­et in the hope that I’ll end my travels in the UK and start a fab­ulous life in Lon­don as a bud­ding fash­ion writer. Please don’t burst my bubble — a girl is allowed to dream — and if it doesn’t work out you will get me back as the fant­ast­ic­ally mar­vel­lous edit­or­i­al assist­ant of Wellington’s favour­ite Fish­Head magazine!FINIAL_5978 copy

In all ser­i­ous­ness, anoth­er down­side for my gen­er­a­tion is the unavoid­able lifelong ‘debt sen­tence’ hanging over our inno­cent little heads, gran­ted by the edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions we rely on to earn money in the first place. Oh, the irony. I some­times like to ima­gine dol­lar amounts high­lighted in red or green float­ing above the heads of pass­ers-by — red obvi­ously indic­at­ing debt, and green show­ing actu­al cash money. I can guar­an­tee a glow­ing red dol­lar fig­ure would be fol­low­ing around a large por­tion of Gen Y’ers. Long story short, a loan to go trav­el­ling is just not an option.

To turn my dream into a real­ity, I need two things: CV-worthy exper­i­ence and money. At one stage recently, I was a retail assist­ant, wait­ress, edit­or­i­al assist­ant, cas­u­al promo per­son, freel­ance blog­ger and wan­nabe styl­ist. For months, my aver­age week looked like this; Monday, Tues­day and Fri­day were spent at Fish­Head HQ being our editor’s right-hand man, although tech­nic­ally due to the loc­a­tion of my desk and gender, I should be more appro­pri­ately titled his left-hand woman. Wed­nes­day, Thursday and Sat­urday were spent as a retail assist­ant, Fri­day and Sat­urday nights as a wait­ress, morn­ings and week nights were giv­en over to pro­mo­tion work, and Sundays were reserved to do inter­views for Fish­Head, occa­sion­al work for HVNGRY or to cov­er any­one too hun­gov­er to FH office2work at my store. Going from a stu­dent who cringed at the thought of a 10am class, I am pleas­antly sur­prised at how work-ori­ented I’ve become in such a short space of time.

First step: exper­i­ence. When I told my friends I had an intern­ship with Fish­Head they assumed I spent my day pho­to­copy­ing and mak­ing cof­fees. Con­sid­er­ing I can’t make a cof­fee to save myself (a short stint as a train­ee barista had cus­tom­ers ask­ing for their money back), my tal­ents have been put to much bet­ter use. I con­sider myself Fish­Head’s secret weapon! I usu­ally spend my morn­ing doing admin-type duties like organ­ising pro­mo­tions, post­ing to Fish­Head social media, con­tact­ing cli­ents, fil­ing invoices and respond­ing to emails. Then in the after­noon I get to write con­tent. A con­sid­er­able amount too! The ‘look Mum I did it’ pages I organ­ise and write include the My Home art­icle, Cap­it­al Ques­tions, Street Style and the Trend­ing page. Addi­tion­al pages I man­age are News Bits, Events and the Brand New pages, and I also organ­ise and cap­tion Aquar­i­um and write the Con­tents pages. BOOM! I sal­iv­ate just think­ing about my glisten­ing CV.

Although my intern­ship with Fish­Head is unpaid, I feel the exper­i­ence is invalu­able. If I didn’t score my FH pos­i­tion, I would prob­ably have gone back to uni­ver­sity and done a post-grad dip­loma, which would have put me in even more debt! So at the end of the day I’m basic­ally mak­ing money — at least that’s what I tell myself. What’s more, I have recently pro­moted myself from intern to intern man­ager. That’s right, I am in charge of train­ing three (and count­ing) people to take over my pos­i­tion when I leave the coun­try. It is both a massive learn­ing exper­i­ence to train and man­age so many people at one time, but also extremely grat­i­fy­ing to know that I man­aged to hold the fort myself for five sol­id issues.

recycle boutique1Second step: money. Although I live at home and have few to no expenses, I still need to earn money for my travels. Recycle Boutique is my sug­ar momma. Every Wed­nes­day, Thursday and Sat­urday (and now more recently Sunday), I work in the fab Vivi­an Street store, where I get paid to play with vin­tage clothes! Once my feet became used to stand­ing all day, I dis­covered that this is lit­er­ally an amaz­ing job — apart from it wreak­ing hav­oc on my nails. One of thRecycle boutiquee high­lights has to be work­ing along­side like-minded people and get­ting a rad staff dis­count. One of the down­sides would have to be get­ting a rad staff dis­count… this is in no way help­ful towards my saving.

I have lim­ited myself to one item per week, which is still incred­ibly tough when every day I’m faced with amaz­ing one-of-a-kind vin­tage gar­ments priced less than a T‑shirt from Cot­ton On. My ulti­mate pur­chase so far has got to be a sparkly goldv­in­tage Emporio Armani blazer! I can­not emphas­ise just how much I love it. He will be mine for ever and ever.

I also cur­rently work for a pro­mo­tions com­pany and do my best to fit odd jobs into my sched­ule. So far I have done a vari­ety of super­mar­ket samplings, cor­por­ate box host­ing at the West­pac Sta­di­um, food shows and new product activ­a­tions. An example of one hec­tic day in par­tic­u­lar included work­ing a pro­mo­tion from 6am to 9am hand­ing out man­dar­ins at the Wel­ling­ton Rail­way Sta­tion, then head­ing to the Fish­Head office to get some work in before get­ting to my 12pm shift at Recycle Boutique! It makes me tired just think­ing about it.

I love doing pro­mo­tion work, as it’s fun and high energy, and every shift is dif­fer­ent (plus the pay is great!). There can also be great perks. I got to take home a box of instant soup from one pro­mo­tion and had the geni­us idea to keep it in the fridge at Recycle Boutique to save money on buy­ing lunches! I also have a box of Rekorder­lig cider com­ing my way for agree­ing to do a brownie sample at half an hour’s notice, because who would say no to free cider?

The really inter­est­ing part for me is that I get to work at both extremes of the PR world. At one end of the scale I organ­ise online pro­mo­tions and read press releases at Fish­Head, and decide what we want to include in our magazine. I get to be a decision-maker in a busi­ness-to-busi­ness envir­on­ment. Where­as being a pro­mo­tion staff mem­ber, I am at the oth­er end of the scale, phys­ic­ally walk­ing the streets and deal­ing with the pub­lic face to face under instruc­tion from brand man­agers. Writ­ing this art­icle, I’m start­ing to real­ise just how much I’ve learnt about the mar­ket­ing world through these two com­pletely dif­fer­ent jobs — prob­ably more than I learnt in my Mar­ket­ing major! Anoth­er point duly noted for my CV. Bonus!

Instant kiwi copy

Then I star­ted to get greedy. I was look­ing at how much I was put­ting into my sav­ings account each month and it just wasn’t enough. With my tick­ets to Athens already booked I was run­ning out of time, so I decided to get anoth­er job. I began work­ing as a wait­ress at a café on Cuba Street on the only nights they had the hours and I had the time: Fri­days and Saturdays.

I went into this situ­ation overly optim­ist­ic, telling myself I would save money by not going out or hav­ing a social life while sav­ing more money for my trip. Win-win? Wrong-wrong. The tcafe lifehing is, we have this annoy­ing little sys­tem called sec­ond­ary tax that basic­ally pun­ishes people who want to work hard. I was work­ing until about 10pm, start­ing at the café at 6pm fol­low­ing a day’s work at Recycle Boutique. After the com­mute home, shower and neces­sary cup of chamo­mile tea, I was get­ting into bed at about 11.30pm. With work the next day, and the next day, and the next day… it star­ted tak­ing it’s toll, espe­cially when I was only mak­ing about $8 an hour! So let’s just say that didn’t last long. But I’m proud that I stuck it out for a month and that I had the drive to do it in the first place.

Des­pite all the amaz­ing exper­i­ence I’ve gained so far, fash­ion is really the thing that gets my fire burn­ing. I star­ted writ­ing a fash­ion and beauty blog in my final year of uni­ver­sity and I abso­lutely loved it! I became such a geek that I would make excuses to stay in just so that I could write posts and brain­storm new post ideas! A good friend of mine star­ted a web­site called HVNGRY and I have tried to find the time to sub­mit fash­ion-related posts for them. HVNGRY even let me run and style my own fash­ion shoot for their monthly fash­ion spread! I could have died and gone to heav­en. I’ve also been hust­ling odd jobs from the Fish­Head fash­ion edit­or, but it kills me that I work both Sat­urdays and Sundays so I haven’t been able to attend any of the shoots (apart from that one time I mod­elled bridal gowns — and yes, I had my very own groom).

I am a born and bred Wel­ling­to­ni­an, and dur­ing the last five months of my man­ic cru­sade to escape my home town I have explored, dis­covered and become more a part of this city and its com­munity than I ever have been before. So many doors have opened for me — all I had to do was knock, each one greeted on the oth­er side with a smile and a cup of hot coffee.

It’s a very bit­ter­sweet exper­i­ence and com­pletely hum­bling to take in my sur­round­ings and appre­ci­ate a place that may soon be noth­ing more than a memory. But it won’t be for ever — give me a couple years and maybe I’ll be sit­ting in the editor’s chair at Fish­Head magazine!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.