A Job Search Story – A Russian Hunter in Australia

A JOB SEARCH STORY

by Anna Kochetkova

 

The Russian Hunter in Australia

I do not fall under Australia born or skilled migrants’ category; however also struggled to find the job of my dreams for a very long time. I have been an international student in Sydney since 2008 which made my journey even more difficult. As an international student in Australia, I am legally allowed to work 20 hours per week during the school period (and 40 hours during holidays) which eliminates a large number of potential jobs.

I am originally coming from Russia where I graduated from one of the largest Universities in Moscow, getting my master degree in Journalism. Clearly, my degree and skills were in Russian language. I left Moscow not long after the graduation, arriving to Sydney to study Academic English before attempting another master degree. As you can probably imagine, with two masters in Journalism and Communication (in both Russian and English languages) I felt like the world owed me and I could conquer any job.

My hunting story starts with high expectations which I soon figured out was my mistake number one. Hoping for a little less is what worked well for me in my search for the dream job.

My mistake number two was me thinking that experience matters little if you have many qualifications and different important papers. Coming from the country with communistic background where bureaucracy was the foundation of everything my delusion was understandable. When I realised that two degrees in Journalism won’t get me to SBS or Channel 9 straight away, I had to abandon the idea of becoming a writer, at that stage.

I started looking for jobs in the administration slash secretary category thinking no skills or experience would be required. My mistake number three was my stubborn over-confidence. I was sure that if I speak smart and lie where I can, I will get my way through anywhere.

However before I gave the dream of becoming a writer up I tried to pursue it and here how it happened.

 Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time I was inspired and dedicated to become a writer or a TV journalist which brought me to the Russian SBS radio in Sydney. Unfortunately, the job duties there required me to translate news from English into Russian language. After several attempts I realised that I do not have the appropriate degree or the skill in this area, neither have I passion or patience for such task. I wanted to create, not to translate.

After no luck on the radio my friend advised me to tidy my resume up and try door to door self-sales. Not actual sales of course, however I was trying to sell myself, or my writing skills to the potential employers. I was knocking on the doors of the big guys including TV channels, radio studios and newspapers offering leaving my resume suggesting my persona as a potential employee. Not only I learnt that I had no sales skills but I was absolutely discouraged from ever thinking of becoming a writer of any sort. Clearly, none of the big guys ever got back to me.

After giving the idea up of becoming a journalist I decided to try myself in so known administrative area. I tried out a secretary slash sales rep slash customer service slash personal assistant slash hell knows what else positions, learning almost nothing but soreness of being in a wrong place.

I have always perceived a PA job (aka personal assistant) as a personal planner, someone very important in a company because only PA knows all the details of the office life. I have always thought that a personal assistant is someone looking after a great deal of activities in a company. My experience happened to be far from my glorious image of the occupation.

As a result I worked as someone similar to personal assistant in two different and very odd companies. One of the two was (as I realised later) a semi-legal dating company which was poorly organised, run by two very secretive people with probably the highest in the history company’s turn over.

It was after I left, I realised that I was paid way below the minimum wage in Australia and the company received more Fair Training complaints than the number of clients ever walked into the office.

I moved one from the bad experience to, as I thought, a better working environment. Although fully legal but still badly organised, small tile cleaning business was not the dream job but my new job which was a bless at the time. Poor management and disasters company’s culture (or the lack of it, really) seemed to be a small pay for the overall better working condition. This is where I became a customer service and sales representative. Working with difficult people and constantly not happy customers was not the ideal job; however it was a job.

Many would say that working under constant stress, dealing with difficult situations at work can be priceless experience teaching valuable problem solving and dealing with people skills.

Looking back, I think I in fact have leant some valuable skills and gained some priceless knowledge. I’ve learnt how to read people better. I’ve learnt that days can be very good and they can be very bad. I’ve learnt that everything appears differently depending what you are comparing it with. I’ve leant that I definitely do not want to work with semi-legal or any other dodgy type of organisations.

They say life is like a zebra – there are good days and there are bad days. My better days arrived another half a year after I left the tile cleaning company, never looking back. I have given up finding a good job whatever the definition of “good” is. I was certain that I had to complete the degree before attempting to find a new job.

At the same time I knew I could never stop searching for new opportunities. I simply wanted to have a job. I could not imagine my days go by without accomplishing something and my degree did not appear challenging enough. With not much hope in my mind, I applied for several internships within the writing community. It had been 4 years since the last time I tried to become a journalist. I felt like I had another shot. I did not hope for much or expected any results therefore I did not even follow up with any of my applications. However I received a call. I got invited for an interview for a marketing related intern position.

Today, it has been a year since I am working in a small online marketing agency in Sydney where I became a copywriter which unlocked my dusted skills and passion. I have started to write freelance as well, composing my writing portfolio and mastering my writing skills. Although I have not become a journalist or a full time professional writer I have dived into a slightly different area which I found to be exciting. I have never stopped looking for more opportunities to develop myself, to write more, to learn more in order to become more.

I am sure this is not the final destination of my journey but it has definitely been a hell of ride!

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Anna Kochetkova is a freelance writer and a research enthusiast interested in a wide range of topics including several areas of psychology and psychotherapy. Anna also writes about fitness and sports science, keeping up to date with business, marketing and international studies’ topics. Anna is a Russian decadency living in Australia author whose cultural difference inspires her to investigate more into different cultures, traditions, believes and behavioral types. Feel free to say hi to Anna on Facebook or visit her personal blog. Speak up and share your story & opinion. In difference is our greatness as a kind.

 

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