Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Getting around to ordering wedding photos

While going through some papers I realized that I still hadn't ordered any photos from the wedding. I was just going through the photos and I have to say that it was such a fun day. These two aren't the best quality to post up, but I thought what the heck? I like 'em!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Bubble Tea

I just am really craving a nice almond chai bubble tea from the Tea Garden!!! I can't wait to have one in May.

Just patiently waiting outside a kebab shop in the bush

Originally uploaded by rheaj
I was walking home from Westfield the other day and I was delighted to see this little fella just patiently waiting outside of a kebab shop waiting for his owner. This pug looked pretty dapper in his camouflage jacket. I love seeing dogs just waiting in the door ways of shops, but not daring to go in. If only I had that kind of self control.

I have met some great people

It's kind of weird writing this post because I know one of the people I am going to write about reads this blog, but oh well.

I went out for a drink last Thursday night with a lovely gal called Mary. Mary was the study abroad coordinator for the University of Arts and I first "met" her in maybe April 2007? I first "met" her through emails when I just starting to get ready to go abroad. I then met her in person when I came to London in September 2007. Mary was there giving all us study abroad students all the information we needed and helping us to settle in. I remember meeting up with half way through the semester for a check in at Davies street and we shared a hot chocolate as I gave her an update as to how I was doing.

Mary was also kind enough to respond to my emails after I stayed on in London and had questions about looking for a job. I always thought that Mary Ivers was very cool, so I was really happy when I got an email from her. She told me that she happened to live in my neighborhood, read my blog and wanted to know if I fancied a drink? I thought that would be a lovely idea and so we met up last Thursday.

We met up in the Queen Adelaide and then I was invited back to her new flat to meet her boyfriend Pete and there other friends Shradda and Jamie. I will say that I had a great time, everyone was fun and cool and while I was walking home after it all I felt very happy that I had met such cool people. I liked them all.

I've been looking for some cool people here in London for a long time and I can't believe that they are right in Shepherds Bush!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Geoffrey, the Bulter from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Goes to my gym. I've seen him with my very own eyes in the sauna and hot tub. Nice.


The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees. I want money!

I know I've had a lot of Chicken Soup for the Soul style blog posts about wanting to find meaningful and challenging work. That of course if very true.

However, I can not wait until I start earning some money of my own. I would like to go shopping, something that I haven't really done for a long time. I am talking fun shopping, like buying a fabulous pair of shoes you don't really need. The kind of shopping that doesn't involve the internal monologue of will that shirt wear well and last me for six months!

I don't want to give the impression that being married to Matthew means that I am running around London dressed in a potato sack. I am able to buy what I need, but what's fun about that? The girly side of me misses wearing cute clothes. I've mentioned before that I only brought over a small backpack and that most of my clothes are in Minnesota. Also, the fact that I am at home looking for work most of the time means that I can get away with looking a bit less than fabulous. It's a fine line, because I don't want to get too frumpy! I don't want to be one of those women that who gets married and then let themselves go.

Living in London without a job it the pits. There are millions of gorgeous shops. So many lovely things! What I want is to earn my own money from my first real job after college and buy some new clothes. I'd love another pair of jeans, although the one pair that I brought over are still in good condition. I'd love to buy a fun bag, although I guess the free one I got with my 2 quid Glamour magazine is just fine. Most importantly I want to have earned these things.

Since Matthew is the only one working I feel bad about spending money on myself for things that I don't really need. I would rather use the money that I would buy a new pair of jeans with and us have a great afternoon out in London.

I can't wait for the day when I can shop in London!!! I can't wait until I earn money from a job that I love and utilizes my knowledge and talent! Hopefully I won't have to wait much longer!

Living online

There was a time when I thought writing a blog was self indulgent. I would say that was maybe my first year at MCAD when I thought that. I didn't know anyone who was writing one at the time and I didn't follow any. When I started MCAD in 2004 I was still a MySpace person, although I tried to have more of a life offline. I thought that it was important to actually get out of the computer lab and interact with real people, but maybe that's because I was 26 at the time and not 19.

Now, I blog and I love it. When I have a look back at the things I've written I can see how far I've come. To me it's my online journal and it makes it much easier than writing it in a book. I hope that by sharing my experiences that I will be able to help people. I have definitely benefited from reading the blogs of other ex pats. It's always good to know that you're not the only one going through what you're going through!

Before writing this blog about living abroad I had two blogs that were class projects. The That Was Cheap blog was for my Mashing Up the Internet class and I think we were just supposed to have blog about something we were interested in. The other blog, Rheaj-Fieldjournal, was for my Design in Context class and we were supposed to track something, I was tracking the color green in clothing. For that assignment we had the choice of using a blog or just keeping a good old fashioned journal. I decided to go online, even though I am a huge fan of the journal.

Of course during my time at MCAD Facebook appeared on the scene and now that's my social network of choice and I only visit MySpace maybe once every few months.

One of things I've been thinking about lately is how much time I spend on the computer living my life online. I spend too much time on FB. I love it because I can stay in touch with what's going with my friends back home, I am still connected to my friends even though I am in another country.

I love seeing the updates that the MCAD gang is hanging out and that all is well in Minneapolis. FB has been extremely useful in meeting new people out here in London. I've met up with total strangers from being a member of the Americans in London group. I can't imagine what it would be like to live here without it. I sometimes think about the ways it would be different if the only way to be in contact with people in the States was through mail and the telephone.

I also have a Twitter account. That's been an incredible way to get loads of very useful information. I haven't been posting a great deal on Twitter because I do agree that it's better to use it as a way to share information than to just update someone on what you're thinking at that very moment. Although I am not opposed to a good balance of the two. Someone mentioned that I should promote a topic that I like and become a Twitter expert. Twitter is great, but in moderation. I have the tendency to want to be checking it far too often when I am on the computer, so I just don't log in during the day. I wait until the end of the day and then I go through and sift through the updates and bookmarks links that I am interested in.

Maybe the real problem is my self control, but I like to feel like I am in the know. The problem lies in the fact that I could end up spending hours online. My love of reading and keeping up with all the current trends and information could mean that I never leave my flat.

Or, maybe it's because I have so much time on my hands looking for a job coupled with the fact that I don't have very many friends here in London. I am of course working on making friends here in London and have met some great people lately. Shout out to Mary, Pete, Shradda and Jamie. I like to be connected to people, so if there aren't any real people than I am ok with virtual ones.

It's interesting to notice the ways I use the internet because of the situation of living abroad. I post on messages boards, which might not be that shocking, but I've never done that before.

One more thing that I'd like to get off my chest, is that while I do feel grateful for the new ways people are able to communicate it's still nice having a real time having a good chat over a great cup of coffee.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

1000 Heads

post about interview coming right up

Mullet Top Trumps

Mullet Power Cards
Originally uploaded by Larfus
Yes, I know Mullets aren't cool anymore, but that didn't stop Matthew, Wayland and I from enjoying a lovely game of Mullet Top Trumps over a few pints down at the pub.

What in the heck is Top Trumps? Well according to good old Wikipedia:

Each pack of Top Trumps is based on a theme, such as cars, aircraft, dinosaurs or characters from a popular film or television series. Each card in the pack shows a list of numerical data about the item. For example, in a pack based on cars, each card shows a different model of car, and the stats and data may include its engine size, its weight, its length, and its top speed.

All the cards are dealt among the players. There must be at least two players, and at least one card for each player. The starting player (normally the player sitting on the dealer's left) selects a category from his or her topmost card and reads out its value. Each other player then reads out the value of the same category from their cards. The best (usually the largest) value wins the "trick", and the winner takes all the cards of the trick and places them at the bottom of his or her pile. That player then looks at their new topmost card, and chooses the category for the next round.

In the event of a draw, the cards are placed in the centre and a new category is chosen from the next card by the same person as in the previous round. The winner of that round obtains all of the cards in the centre as well as the top card from each player.

Players are eliminated when they lose their last card, and the winner is the player who obtains the whole pack. Some variants of the rules allow 'three card pick', whereby a player who has only three cards remaining is allowed to choose any of their three cards to play with. Typically, this lengthens the game considerably.

Top Trumps was a popular children's card game in the United Kingdom in the 1970s and 1980s, especially amongst boys, for whom it was a popular playground pastime. The topics tended to reflect this, and included military hardware, modes of transport and racing cars. The packs tended to be priced so that children could collect new packs by saving pocket money for a few weeks.

The original Top Trumps were launched in 1977, with eleven different packs published by a company called Dubreq, also known for the stylophone. Dubreq was taken over by Waddingtons in 1982, and they continued manufacturing packs until the early 1990s. The packs from this period are now collectible.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Very thankful

Narcis fields near Hillegom
Originally uploaded by Bеn

I wanted to take a moment and mention that despite the challenges I've had with finding a job and a few bouts of homesickness, I am very happy and I have a lot to be thankful for. I have an amazing husband who is my best friend and who has been so supportive. I love our flat in Shepherds Bush, especially since we've decided to stay another year and work on our back garden. I've got a great flatmate who is a good friend and he makes me the best coffee. I adore Matthew's family and like being around them. Thomas, Charlotte and William are just the best brothers and sister in laws that a person could hope for.

Living in London is amazing, it's such a diverse and vibrant city. The longer that I am here the more I grow to love it and appreciate it. I love that living in London means that I get to travel in ways that just wouldn't be possible if I lived in Minnesota. I feel extremely lucky that I get to see the world and live abroad. Living abroad has really changed the way that I view the world. It's made me a more politically aware person. It's also taught me a great deal about tolerance and compassion. I am looking forward to camping trips this summer around England and France. England is a beautiful country and it never ceases to amaze me that you can drive out of London and in about two hours be on amazing stretch of coast.

I am lucky that Matthew has a good job and we aren't struggling at the moment. I can't wait for the day when I get my first paycheck, but I am grateful that Matthew has a good job and one that he genuinely enjoys and work that he finds challenging. I went out for drinks with some of his workmates last week and they were a cool group of people. I am happy that he works with people who he gets on with and that he doesn't dread going to work.

I am also thankful for all the people that I love back home in the States. Everyone has been so supportive. The hardest thing for me about moving away was leaving my friends and loved ones. I've had a lot of people that I've loved very much pass away in my life. My grandma, mom, dad, half brother, my first husband and two boyfriends. The thing that I've taken away from those experiences is that what is truly important in this life is the people in it. Those of you who have lost a loved one know that nothing really seems to matter after that person is gone and it makes you truly question the meaning of life. For me the meaning of life is spending time loving and enjoying the people who are part of your life. I don't care about acquiring material possessions, I just want to spend time with people. That's been the hardest part about moving away, being away from what I consider to be the most important thing in my life.

However, I have Matthew a wonderful partner and I am starting to make friends here in London. I am able to go home and visit and have people come and visit me in London. This year two of my very good friends are moving abroad and I can't wait to go and visit them. I feel thankful that I have so many people to love, so many people that I care so much about. Wonderful friends that have helped me become the person I am today. I have people who believe in me and that means everything.

I am thankful that I get up everyday and try my best to have a good life. I am happy that I am able to help others through this blog. I know if I keep at it and work hard that I will achieve all that I want and find a job in London.

Love it

Thursday, 16 April 2009

She Says

Things have been starting to look up! About two months ago I was put in contact with a woman here in London thanks to the kindness of a woman (Juliet) who I used to babysit for back in Minneapolis. Juliet saw my FB posts asking if anyone had any contacts in London and it just so happened that she did. She sent me the contact detail for Michelle and I sent her an email.

I had a really good chat with Michelle over the phone and she gave me lots of good advice. Michelle has a career history that is pretty awesome and she's currently over at Wieden + Kennedy as an executive producer. After looking at her LinkedIn profile I was thinking that's where I want to be one day. Michelle mentioned a great networking group called SheSays.

She Says is a group for women in digital advertising. Here's what they say about themselves:

She Says… who says? We do. One night in the pub we were chatting about the distinct lack of females in the creative department of most digital ad agencies, and we couldn't work out why this should be. So we thought we'd encourage more women to take up a career in digital advertising (so it's not all blokes in tight tank tops, though we like them too).

We'll aim to have meetings every month, so you can come along and hear from a panel of women from top UK and US agencies.

She Says is a FREE event aimed at women who are just starting a career in digital advertising or have been in the industry for a while.

I was pretty excited to find out about this group and even more so when I found out that they had a mentorship program. I sent a request to be matched up with a mentor and had a meeting last week with Nicola who is in charge of connecting mentors with mentees. I really liked Nicola, she has her own company called Defected. We just had a chat about what I was looking for and what I wanted to get out of the mentorship.

I felt a million times better after talking with her. Nicola was very positive and encouraging and I can't wait to meet my mentor. I am looking forward to the next She Says meet up and meeting more professional women in London.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Keen to get my foot in the door

I've been following Tim Brunelle's Future of Advertising class at MCAD. He's been great at getting his course information up onto his blog, Useful Lunacy. I didn't get a chance to meet Tim when I was at MCAD, but friends of mine have been in his class and have said good things. It's been interesting to follow the class and to learn along with them.

I was going through the class sessions looking for some of the workfolio sites that the students were using as part of the class and ran across the link to a site called I have been thinking that I would need some sort of online workfolio in order to boost my chances at getting a job in London. Unfortunately, all of my MCAD work is very carefully documented and stored on a memory stick packed away in a basement in Minnesota.

The reason being is that I came to London to study abroad and I only planned on being here for two months. I didn't bring that memory stick, but oh how I wish I had! Most people would like to see work examples and I understand why. I've put off sorting it out because to be honest the thought of recreating three and a half years worth of portfolio projects is the last thing that I want to do.

So when I found the other day, I thought that it might be the perfect way to have a presence here in London. I liked that it was simple and straightforward so why not give it a try? It was fun to put my profile together. It also helped me to remember that I have done a lot of stuff and that I have worthwhile experience!

One of the challenges I face being here looking for a job is that no one here has heard of MCAD, let alone the Visualization program. People can look at my CV and see that I've had an internship at Popular Front, but it doesn't mean anything to them. Someone scans my CV and they think "wait a minute! Where are her GCSEs and A Levels? Did she get a first at university or a second?" I've received the feedback that because I am coming from a different educational system and have had internships at places no one has heard of, that I am going to have to work extra hard at getting that information across.

Great, but how do I do that? My CV is already going on 4 pages! I've gotten the advice that I should I write up a one page summary and include thumbnail images. I wasn't too keen on that idea, writing up a one page summary explaining all that I did in four years at college? Yikes! Even if I included the links so they can take a look, they still have to take the time to type in the urls. It seemed to me that there should be a better way and along came extendr!

What I am hoping to get out of my profile is that an employer or someone whom I am trying to network with can look at it and quickly get an idea of what my background is. They can have a look at where I've worked, what I've been learning and what I am involved in. It's quick and easy. They don't have to read a bunch of copy and bullet points. Just click if you're interested in something and away you go.

I will keep you all updated on my progress with it. It's also just a great way to keep up a list of all the things you've done.

Starting over with a new attitude!

I am well on my way to being positive and excited about finding my first London gig! Let this super cute mobile phone charger cozy and beautiful watermelon signify a shift in my attitude and blog!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

New Notebook

New Notebook
Originally uploaded by
There's nothing like a new notebook to give you new lease on life. I am going back to my old method of doing things. When I was back in college I would start the day by making a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish. I would also make a list before bed of all the things I needed to get sorted for that next day.

I like notebooks and I like lists. There's nothing like crossing things off a list is there? I sometimes will write things on the list that I completed earlier in the day just so I can cross it off immediately!

Today was a good day. I sent a bunch of emails, did laundry, went for a swim at the gym, read some job related blogs, went to lunch with Wayland, cleaned my room, made plans for when we're in Minneapolis, worked on my workfolio sites, watched East Enders, talked to my friend on Skype and organized some papers. The items on my list got crossed off and I am starting to make some exciting headway!

The sun also made a brief appearance today and it was pretty warm.
Going to bed now!

Heart to heart before I start over

"Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory." Ghandi

Things have been a bit up and down lately. I thought that I would have one last blog post about my feelings about looking for a job. I've had some good things happen last week and I've decided to "start over" with a new strategy and new goals. 

I am going back to Minneapolis in May and it will be one year since I've graduated from MCAD. I've been out of school for one year and still no job. I have to say that I feel a little bit like a loser returning to Minneapolis without a job. Deep down I don't think of myself as a loser at all, but I really wanted to have had a job by now. 

I have been officially looking for a job since October, that's when I came back with my spouse visa and it's been one hell of journey. From graduate schemes, recruitment agencies, interviews and job fairs it's been a bumpy ride.
I was feeling pretty low last week when I didn't even hear back from Pret. That's the sandwich shop in town. I had been applying for a bunch of part time jobs, restaurants and shops, and I haven't heard back from any of them. 

I was a bit shocked that I wasn't hearing back, let alone not getting the jobs. I've worked since I was 16 years old. I was starting to think that there was something wrong with me. It's not like I've been picky either. I applied to work at KFC , determined to work anywhere. I didn't hear back from the colonel either. My self confidence was starting to get shaken. I just couldn't understand why I couldn't get hired. I had even taken off all my college education so I didn't seem to over qualified. 

I started to wonder if I would ever find something? I know deep down that eventually something will come up. I am a smart, educated talented young lady my only fear is that it might take a long time before something happens. 

I wish someone could tell me how long it is going to take. Is it because of the recession? Is it because my CV stands out? Am I coming across as a total idiot during my interviews? All these thoughts run through my mind, especially when I hear people tell me that it shouldn't be hard for me to get a job with my experience. That's a real hard one to deal with! I am like ok then how come I am not getting hired? 

I just feel like there's something that I don't know. Is it really going to be that hard to get my foot in the door? I can't seem to understand why it would be that hard, are there just that many people in London trying to get a job? 

With thoughts like those running through my mind it's easy to see why I've been a bit down on myself. I felt that back in Minneapolis I was a on a good path. I had been networking for three years and getting myself involved in things and I was well on my way to starting my career. For some reason I don't feel like that at all here and I've got to figure it out. 

I am not the kind of person who takes no for answer and I can't accept that I can't find a job here. Like I said, I am willing to do whatever it takes. I've had people help me with my CV, very kind people from the States send me leads and I won't give up! 

I've got some new ideas up my sleeve and will write about those soon. Thanks again for every one's support!

Heart to heart before I start over

Dear Rhea,
Life is a voyage. This magnificent ship can sail anywhere or it can just sit. What it needs is a courageous captain willing to sail through any adversity. Keeping his sights on the prize, adventure, good harbors. But this only happens when one maps his course hopefully taking the risk to succeed. You can turn your ship into a rewarding cruise or just sit in the harbour and wish for far off shores and never getting there.
Love, Dad

This was the last birthday card that my dad gave me. He passed away two days before my 19th birthday, eleven years ago.

I sometimes wonder what my dad would think about my life and me living in London. I wonder what my dad was thinking when he sat down and wrote this card out to me. My dad was a very thoughtful kind of man and I miss him everyday. I think my dad would be proud of me and happy that I decided to take a risk and move to a new country.

I want more than anything to make my life a rewarding cruise and to make my dad and myself proud. I will never stop trying to live the best life I can, to always challenge myself and to never give up, no matter how hard things get. I love you, Dad and you are always in my heart. 

Monday, 13 April 2009

Gone Swimming and Celebrity Spotting

Things have been going pretty well with my quest for fitness. Some weeks are better than others, but I make it there every week. 

Last week I decided to have a peek at the swimming pool. I have always loved swimming or splashing in the sea, but have never gotten into swimming laps. What I found beyond the ladies locker room was a treat for sure! They have a very very nice spa area with a huge hot tub, two saunas, a steam room, an ice room and a fancy tropical shower or ice blast shower. I have to say it is pretty amazing. The pool also looked pretty good, so I decided to give it a go.

I decided that I was going to take up swimming and indulging in the luxury spa area. Which meant I need to get a bathing suit. Something that I wasn't looking forward to. I've got a nice J Crew suit packed away somewhere in Minnesota, but it was of no use to me now so I went down to the mall.

I found a very decent Speedo style suit for 5 pounds! I couldn't believe how cheap it was. Usually a cheap suit back home would run you at least 25.00 dollars, so I was pleasantly surprised. I will have to go back and pick up some goggles, at 3.99 you really can't go wrong. The suit in the picture isn't the one I bought, but isn't it super cute?

I've been swimming now three times and I have to say that I really like it. I am feeling the benefits of exercising and with five weeks to go before I come back to Minneapolis I am well on my way!

P.S. Matthew claims that he saw the butler (Geoffrey) from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air in the saunarium.....

Sunday, 12 April 2009

I don't smoke

but I thought these little Gone Smoking cards were super cute. Matthew and I stopped in Chesham on our way to our country walk. We  stopped in to have a pint at the Queens Head, it was a lovely little pub and the cider was excellent. 

Friday, 10 April 2009

Jive Update

Matthew and I are on week 7 of our jive lessons and boy are we still having a good time. They have this Sea Cruise song playing when you arrive and I love it. We have a little practice and I sing the lyrics to Matthew. This is always amusing because he can't believe that I know the all the words! That's one of the great things about marrying someone you've only known for 10 months. You're learning something new about your partner all the time!

I think we might go out this bank holiday weekend and do some jiving. I will definitely take some photos and I think I will make a little video of us dancing. Just to warn you all, we're getting pretty good and looking cool!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

The kindness of strangers

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."


I wanted to share this email that was sent to me the other day by a person I have never met. It came to me when I wasn't having a very good day and it was very touching. I think that it's pretty amazing that this person took the time to send this to me and show their support. This gesture really was special, so thank you very much.

Hi Rhea

I've found your blog some time ago and left a comment for you on your November post 'Monday Morning', I've been reading your blog on and off and just read your 'Yesterday' post. I just wanted to tell you that I've experienced the exact same issues [with recruitment agencies for instance] as you have. And I don't think it has to do with experience to be honest; I have a lot of experience but I run into the same problems as you have.

I know how disheartening things can be and how one needs to be careful not to get depressed or in constant doubt about oneself. This is the reason why I decided to write you this email because I'm sure there's many out there in the creative business who have similar problems and reading your posts is a way for someone to realise that they're not alone in this. I really hope you'll keep writing about your job hunt experience and I wish you lots and lots of luck.

Kind regards,

ps did you try Gumtree? There's some good opportunities there but always check [you can tell by checking their website for instance] because there are also some dodgy people posting weird ads ;)

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Thought I would share this too!

I use a fantastic message board (UK Yankee) here in London, have a look. Here's one of my threads..

« on: February 23, 2009, 04:45:12 PM »

I am looking to hear any positive success stories about Americans finding jobs in London. I just graduated from college this past May. I have been looking for my first real job after college here in London for the past four months and it hasn't been going as well as I would have hoped.

I guess I am trying to figure out what I should expect. I am 30 years old with a BS:Visualization degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I have significant internship experience and before that I ran my own child care business. Technically I am a recent graduate, but I am not the typical fresh out of college kid. My last internship was with a digital agency called Popular Front. I was there for nine months as an experience strategist. I did web strategy and IA.

I know the economy is in a very bad way at the moment, but will it be next to impossible to find a job? I have applied for specific jobs and temp agencies, the works looking for ways to get my foot in the door. I have also applied for internships/work experiences but have been told that I have too much experience. I am in a weird spot because I have experience, but not a lot. Is being American a road block?

I have gone on interviews and they haven't gone well at all. I don't think I am selling my self as well as I could.

I will never give up hope of finding a job that I want, but I am thinking that maybe I will have to shift my expectations. Have people out there had success in finding work? Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you,

and here are the replies


I've been in London since October looking for work. I have an MA in Fine Art and have experience working in museums and teaching as well as administrative/office experience. I've applied for well over a hundred jobs and am getting rather desperate. I really (really!) don't want to head back to the US but my savings are dwindling faster than I'd care to think about.

Good luck to you Rhea, I hope you find something soon!


My 2p is this: yes, the economy is not helping at all. But, art/design/museum/web work is a tough field to crack if you don't have connections.
You've got a TON of competition. There are loads of art and design programmes in UK universities which, of course, try to foster contacts for their thousands of graduates. And they all wanna work in London. You are also competing against people from the EU - and some of those countries have outstanding programmes (Holland for example). I had outstanding experience in the US as an art director. I had a BFA and an MA. But it took me ages to get my foot in the door as a teacher and I never got a job as a designer even though I did have contacts. It is not easy. But not impossible. You may have more luck getting an admin type job for security and on the side work hard to build up contacts and a UK-based portfolio. And not to be a further downer, but yes, I did find being American problematic with some people. I would venture to say that I was turned down for at least one job simply because of it. I'm really not trying to make you think this is impossible. It isn't and I do know other Americans who found work. But it took time and serious perseverance. Do anything you can to get contacts. That's the way to go


I'm in the same boat. I arrived in London a month ago and have applied to about 50 jobs with no success. I have a BS in Business Administration/Marketing but spent the last 5 years as a flight attendant in the US. Prior to that, I worked in mortgage banking which no one wants to touch right now with a ten foot pole. I've been turned away from the airlines here because I don't have a UK or EU passport so I'm willing to take anything right now that comes along. I've had one interview and it was the worst I've ever had. A few of the agencies that I've been in contact with were reluctant to submit my CV to potential employers because I'm an American. I explained my situation and told them that I don't need any other documentation to work, i.e. a visa but they were still hesitant. Keep in mind that most Americans that are here in London came over as transfers from the US or already had their jobs lined up for them so recruiters don't have much experience in hiring Americans. I'm headed to another agency to register with them. I wish all of you luck!!


My first road trip behind the wheel

Jaguar E-Type
Originally uploaded by Ozan™
No, Raya and I didn't make the trip up to Wakefield in this amazing Jaguar E-Type..that would have been brilliant! We made the trip in our old Astra.

When Raya lived in England she was based up in Wakefield and we went up there to see her friends and host family. We drove up on a Saturday and came back Sunday.

I drove us up and I have to say it went very well. There was a bit of trouble on a small roundabout in Wakefield, but thankfully there wasn't any traffic!

I was a tiny bit nervous about making the trip, but I was absolutely fine. It was also nice, because Raya's not familiar with the rules of the road so she doesn't know if I am not doing something right :)

Well done me!

I've got a restless mind and I take pleasure is teaching myself something new and sharing it.

post coming soon


"When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."
~Harriet Beecher Stowe

Yesterday was a hard day. It started off by driving Raya to the tube station so she could catch her flight back to Minneapolis. I am going to be seeing her in May, but it was sad to see her go. Once back home it was time to get back to business and continue looking for jobs. Here's a somewhat funny I have an interview that was set up for Tuesday and I wanted to confirm that it was still on. I sent an email to the person I was meeting with and my email bounced back, I of course became worried that maybe this company had gone under and there wasn't going to be any interview.

The website was down, although there was another site up that I hadn't seen before. I thought that maybe something funny was going on. I haven't ever heard of the company before and times are tough. I guess it's not too far outside the realms of possibility that they could have bit the dust.
I tried to call the phone number on the website, but the number wasn't working. That seemed really strange. Well after some investigative work (calling Matthew) it seemed that I just needed to add a 0 before the number. Ok, simple enough. Crisis adverted. I phoned up and got it sorted out, the meeting was rescheduled for Wednesday.

Alright, here's when my day starts to go down hill. A few months ago I had signed up with a recruitment agency called Blue Skies. I had gone to a D&AD event and met the husband of one of the women who runs the agency. I went in for an interview and there was this great jr role that I was so well suited for. It turns out that I wasn't experienced enough for it and didn't get it. I tried to stay in contact with my consultant, but the communication wasn't really happening.

I then went to the Blue Skies creative workshop and spoke to another person and they said that I should phone them and work with them, so I did. Never heard anything, despite all my messages. So then about a week ago I got an email from another person at Blue Skies telling me that they are taking over my file and we'd be working together. I was asked to send an email letting them know if I was still looking for work, so I did. I called that person up yesterday to see what was going on and to check in. I wanted to let them know that I was trying to get into digital project management roles and that I had just finished up my PRINCE 2 certification. I was then told that there were a few jr project management roles, but I wasn't qualified enough for them. There was also some concern expressed that my last agency experience was back in 2007.

This news just really broke me down. So I don't have enough experience to get a jr role? I have also been trying to get work experience/internships and have been told that I have too much experience to do that. I just didn't see how I was going to win. How do English people get there first jobs? I felt extremely frustrated.

Also, I had applied to work in a sandwich shop last week called Pret. I love Pret and thought that it would a great place to work part time while looking for a "real" job. At the moment they are doing a big hiring so I went down to the recruitment office to fill out an application.

The application was one piece of paper that asked for my name, telephone number, what tube I lived nearest to, my nationality, what hours I was available, if I could legally work in the country and it wanted two sentences about why I wanted to work there and what food service experience did I have?
That was it. I filled it out, handed it back and was told that I would hear back in 7 days. If I didn't hear back than my application hadn't been successful. I figured that all they could really gather from that one page was to what level your English was and if you could spell. Two things that I thought I had in the bag.

I never got a call to come in for an interview. The last day was yesterday and no call. That was pretty depressing and upsetting. Yes it's just a job at a sandwich shop, but you start to feel like shit when you can't even get a job at a sandwich shop. That coupled with the fact that I wasn't experienced enough for a jr role reduced me to tears. I also applied to KFC and wasn't accepted for an interview.....

The tears didn't stop me from keep applying for jobs. I sat there sobbing and still sending out CVs. It makes me so mad. I want to work! I want to get my foot in the door and get out there. I just don't understand why this is so hard. I understand that there is a recession on and maybe I will just have to accept that finding a job is going to be very very hard. I've applied to work as a receptionist, office assistants and so forth. I am willing to scrub toilets at TBWA if it means that I can work my way up. I just can not accept that I won't get a job. I am a smart, creative, hard working person.

Oh dear, so that was yesterday. My fear is that the longer I am out of school, the further away I get from my last internship the less appealing I am going to be as an applicant. In some positive news I am going to be doing some project management work experience for a charity called Sense. That starts up in a few weeks and I am super excited about that and working with Graham, the great guy that I met during my PRINCE 2 training.

Despite all of this I will never give up. I will get something. It's hard when you don't know if how you are going about things is the "right" way or if you are just trying to force a square peg into a round hole. I guess I am not sure where to focus my efforts. I am applying for full time "real" jobs, part time jobs (working in a shop, restaurant) and work experience. To wrap this up, to all you out there who have a network and contacts be appreciative.

I think the hardest thing for me is not having any contacts out here. I spent three and half lovely years at MCAD building a fantastic network. I also want to say thank you to those people back in Minnesota who have offered their help to me while I am in London.
Starting over without contacts is tough, it's not impossible and I've been working like mad to build some up and help others in London when I can. We can't do it alone, so share what and who you know! Now, I am back to the drawing board :)

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Avoiding this post

I have been meaning to update this blog with entries about how I've been getting on with my job search. Meaning to... To be honest it's the last thing I want to write about, things haven't gone the way I hoped they would have. On the one hand I don't feel any shame in that, it's not like I want to hide what's been going on. It's just that whenever I think about sitting down and writing about it...well it's just easier not to.

In about six weeks I am going back to Minneapolis for my very good friend's wedding. At that point it will be just over one year since I graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I still don't have a job and I have been seriously thinking about what direction my life is going to take. 

To be fair, after graduating in May I came back to London and continued working as a nanny until Matthew and I got married in August. There was the time from the wedding (August 30th) until I returned to London (October 14th)  when I was in Minneapolis and I wasn't working. I didn't know how long I was going to be there and at first it was just good to see friends and be back home. 

I had the "I want to go to work itch" so bad. I wanted more than anything to start the first "real" job after college. I ended applying to work at Target in case something went wrong with my visa and it was going to be a while. In the end I didn't have enough time to start work there, my visa came and then it was time to go back. 

When I got back to London I was energized and super excited to be looking for my first job in such an amazing vibrant city. There were so many cool agencies and companies, I felt spoiled for choice. I had wanted to work in advertising and London is an advertising mecca. It's like the Hollywood of advertising.

While researching jobs within advertising I discovered that many of the agencies out here offer graduate schemes to recent grads. They are a paid training program and I was  super excited to find out about them. 

The first one I applied to was for Ogilvy and it was a paid three year program that offered the graduates a chance to work across the different departments, giving them the chance to learn how the business as a whole works. 

I thought that I would get it for sure, my only worry at the time was that I was applying for it in November and it didn't start until September of the next year. I then found a Facebook group and discovered that there were more to apply for and I became part of this online community around advertising graduate programs. I applied for almost all of them, I think there were only two that I didn't.

My thinking at the time was that I was going to get all of them and then how I was going to choose? I was just so confident that this was meant for me, I had the education and  some great internships under my belt. What I didn't know was that thousands of people apply for only 3-5 places. I had no idea and maybe if I did know, I still would have thought that I would still get one. 

Only one letter showed up and it was for a first round interview at M&C Saatchi. From 1,7000 applicants they selected 100 to come in for a first round interview and from that they narrow it down to 25 and then to 5.  I didn't make it past the first round and was disappointed, I thought my interview was great. 

After that I got caught up in this swirl of trying to find a job in advertising. I worked all the contacts I had, perhaps over worked them. I am still trying to work out the fine line between persistence and annoyance. They say to be tenacious and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I contacted people from the advertising graduate related blogs and met up with them at Starbucks. I felt like now it was a matter of principle that I was going to get a job in advertising! I just couldn't accept that I wouldn't. I wanted to work in account management. I had been told that I was well suited for the job and that's what I wanted to do. 

I spent a few months spinning my wheels, although I didn't see it that way at the time. I went to lectures, joined groups and read campaign and media week. Although what I was soon discovering was that you had to have a super high level of passion for the industry. You need to know about the history of advertising, important campaigns and legendary art directors. You should be able to name the agencies who are representing Honda, Sainsburys and Cadbury. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Weekend trip to Madrid

Part One - Getting there 

Matthew bought us tickets to Madrid for Valentines day ( so sweet). We had loved Barcelona and wanted to visit some more cities in Spain, so Madrid seemed like a good choice. We were leaving on Friday (27th) and coming back on Sunday (29th). I had bought a little guide book, but the plan was to go to the Prado and just have a look around. 

Friday- Matthew and I are leaving from the London Bridge station, taking the train to Gatwick. Matthew had bought the train tickets online and I was supposed to get there early and pick them up. I was supposed to be there by 5 p.m. to collect the tickets and the train was leaving at 5:20 p.m. I left the house with plenty of time to get there. I can either walk 15 minutes down the street to the tube station or I can jump on a bus. Since a bus was just approaching I thought great, what luck and hopped on. 

There was a huge amount of traffic on the road and what should have taken about 8 minutes took almost 20 and you can just get off the bus. The driver wouldn't open the door for those of us who wanted to get off, so I was behind schedule and feeling a bit nervous about the time. I got on the Central line, which was held up at Notting Hill and Queensway. I changed at Bond Street for the Jubilee line and by this time it was five minutes to 5 p.m. I was very nervous, but tried to stay calm. 

The train finally pulled in at London Bridge and then I had to figure out where to go to the get the tickets. London Bridge is both an underground and train station and I've never taken a train from there. I managed to quickly find where I needed to go and then I had to figure out where to collect the tickets from. I was expecting it to be like Paddington or Victoria, where there are ticket kiosks everywhere and you just go up to one and get the tickets. 

At London Bridge, there was a ticket office and in that same area there were three ticket machines. Now to be fair maybe there were more kiosks elsewhere, but I didn't have time to try and find them. So there was a queue for the kiosks and a queue for the human ticket sellers. I was afraid that for some crazy reason that I wouldn't be able to pick up the tickets from the kiosk, but I couldn't get out of line to ask anyone. The few people around me didn't know. 

With the seconds ticking by I decided to stay in the queue and hope for the best. It was finally my turn and thankfully it worked. By now Matthew had caught up with me and we had to then run to catch the train. So we are running and we get to the train it's still there! BUT all the coaches are full up. We keep running down the length of the train in hopes of being able to get on a coach and finally we just have to literally force ourselves on, must to the dismay of a very large Scottish woman. We made it with a second to spare. Squashed up against the door and the Scottish woman, we can't move an inch, but we made it. 

Thankfully a bunch of people got out a one of the stops 20 minutes later and we had some room. It wasn't the nicest journey to the airport, but we made it. 

Then we had to wait a long time to find out where our gate was. Once it was announced people just started running to the gate. I didn't understand why they did this because you they have a designated boarding order. Anyways, we finally got on the plane after another long queue and took off to Madrid. 

Once we arrived we needed to get some money out of the cashpoint. The first five cash points wouldn't give us any money, which was a bit annoying. So we continued walking down to where you can catch the metro into the city. The funny thing was that it was a super long walk and it just seemed that on this trip that it was just the way it was going to be. It was a 20 minute walk through the airport which maybe isn't that long, but when the airport is near empty it seems longer.

We found some more cash points near the entrance to the metro, took out some money and then tried to buy the metro ticket. After getting our tickets we headed down and got on the metro and made the journey to our hostel. The Madrid metro is pretty nice and clean. You do get a few people singing and carrying on, but that's like free entertainment!

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