Yeah, great timing, I know.
April 9, 2009 10:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm an artsworker trainee who's also in the early stages of starting a new small business. I've been jobhunting like crazy but nothing's happened yet. I need to cover my living expenses. What can I do?

I graduated uni a couple of weeks ago (in the Creative Industries) and have just started a circus artsworker traineeship, with the goal of having enough skills & experience to train others by the end of the year. I've also been performing every so often, and training in performance, and I'm working on a small events/production assistance business.

So far I only have enough money to last me a month or so. I'm applying for permanent residency (I'm in Australia) and that eats up a LOT of money. I've been looking for jobs everywhere, in anything I could vaguely qualify for, but no luck - apparently in Australia every job has had 10 times more applicants than usual, so the job search has been more challenging for everybody.

The money I have is on loan from my parents, through a shared agreement (I didn't want to freeload off them but I do still want to eat). It's only enough for the next month because I'm going away from mid-May to end-July for my sister's wedding in Bristol. I was hoping to get a job that I could do now till May, take leave, and then start the job again when I return. I have casual jobs but they're infrequent and are hardly enough to let me do anything.

What can I do so that I can still afford rent, food, meds, sustenance? At least my creative training is free, but it's not earning me big bucks either. It kinda annoys me that the things that would let me have a better chance at jobhunting - such as getting RSA, RSG, First Aid, driving lessons - or things that improve my small business & arts skills, cost money...which requires getting a job!

I'm not eligible for Centrelink just yet. Once my PR app is lodged I can go on Medicare, which helps. Where else could I get some work to get money to live? (I did see an ad for a boarding school that provided rent & board in return for being an RA of sorts, but it was a Catholic one and they'd probably look down on my Pagan burlesque self).

Are there grants or sponsorships available for emerging artsworkers that don't require Aussie citizenship? Where can I get jobs that'll help me get some money? (I've looked at Seek, Careerone, Hippo, Artshub, Ployme - and some freelance sites like eLance and Guru which seem dodgy). What are some creative and effective ways of making enough to live on?
posted by divabat to Work & Money (11 answers total)
Get a part time job at the library at the university you just graduated from. You would probably just be shelving and maintaing collections, but a job's a job in the interim.

It is a very tough sector in this country, and in the interim network all you can! Artshub is definitely the main site.

Good luck!
posted by wingless_angel at 11:04 PM on April 9, 2009

You could try juggling / circus tricks, etc. on street corners. The big apple circus started that way. I remember seeing them on street corners as a child and they were amazing.
posted by zia at 12:20 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, busking, under the table work, the mainstay of immigrants everywhere.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:42 AM on April 10, 2009

and STOP not applying for stuff. For sure you can pretend to be a catholic well enough for that job yes?

Other stuff:

Phone sex
Waiting tables
Washing dishes
Serving coffee
Recycling cans

Now is the time to abandon all pride.

You are fierce, strong, smart and resourceful, and all the cool people you look up to probably did shit like the above too.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:48 AM on April 10, 2009

Response by poster: BTGOG: Oh, it's not that I particularly mind being in a Catholic school - it's more that they'd likely Google me and find my rants about being pro-sex-industry and taking up burlesque lessons and that won't sit right with them :P

I'm applying everywhere I can! It's surprisingly hard with food/hospitality jobs because they require years of experience which I don't have. And no way am I stripping - it's not about pride, it's about comfort level (and as it is my parents are convinced I'm going to be a hooker because I do burlesque...).
posted by divabat at 4:06 AM on April 10, 2009

I still don't understand why you didn't apply. I'm just worried about you. You only have a month of money so even if you got hired tomorrow you're aware lots of pay cheques don't come through until up to a month after start, yes?

What happens when you run out of meds? One life sustaining thing after another will go and it will be harder and harder to get hired as you have less energy and stability as your diet gets poorer and poorer.

Have you tried the temp agencies? A smart, computerliterate and educated person can generally find temp work.

I'm not saying that you should strip if you arent comfortable but the fact you didn't apply for the RA position is a red flag. You've got a cutesy little smiley face by it, but I am concerned that your anxiety is making you self-sabotage here. How many other jobs are you not applying for, making ASSUMPTIONS about what the employer will say or do. They might not Google! A good letter of rec might outweigh their Googles!
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:26 AM on April 10, 2009

Response by poster: That Catholic school job is unpaid - rent & board only. I've applied for about a million other things, there's no need to harp on that one! I asked around for advice and someone who did similar things to me said that my extracurricular work would be a major red flag - especially since the role involved living with young girls. So I dropped that one. I looked at other boarding schools but no one else is hiring.

Geez, BTGOG, can you lay off me for a bit? Talk about making assumptions! When I come back in August I can look for jobs again. At the very very very least I have family to lean on (however reluctant I am to take family support again) I'm not going destitute. I can get enough supply of meds when I go home in a month to last me for a while.

I've applied at temp agencies. No response yet. As I said, here in Australia they have many more applicants than usual for EVERYTHING so there is usually a backlog.
posted by divabat at 4:44 AM on April 10, 2009

Fair enough. Have sent you a memail. Good luck!
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:04 AM on April 10, 2009

Several friends have told me you've got to regularly check in with the temp agencies here, they will not call you. Good luck.
posted by Elli at 6:03 AM on April 10, 2009

First, the whole work for a month, leave, and then come back is going to be a total no-go at a lot of places. They need to hire a waitress/manager/welder/whatever to fill an empty slot now, not to give someone a job whenever it might be convenient for that person. (Not, of course, that you might not get lucky and find a place where they close down anyway that month, just that that's an unlikely scenario.) So you might do best to think of your job search as having two totally separate pieces: something temporary to tide you over from now until the wedding, and then something more stable after that.

Second, while applying for advertised openings is great (I got a job once that way, even), my sense is that the vast majority of jobs never get advertised, and instead hiring happens through networks, even very casual networks. (Because really: do you want to take the risk of hiring some random person who sends in a resume, or do you want to hire a person whom you've met and was given a nod of approval by a mutual acquaintance whom you trust?) For example, you probably eat at a few restaurants regularly, shop at the same stores, visit the same offices, etc. Have you asked the manager/owner/whomever at each of those places (at a time when they aren't swamped) if they might have any openings, even something temporary or part-time?

It's hard, because you will inevitably have a lot of people saying "no," sometimes rudely. And similarly, when you tell people you know "hey, I'm looking for work, let me know if you hear of anything," most of them won't be helpful and again, you'll be told "no" a lot. But at least in my experience, it's what works, far, far better than sending in applications to advertised positions.

Lastly, a question to answer honestly (alone, while looking in the mirror, not here on the internet) is whether you are setting your standards too high, being proud, and not being willing to consider work that, deep in your heart, you consider "beneath you." I'm not saying that you should aim low -- just that I've known quite a few recent college graduates to have very constrained ideas about what kinds of work they would be willing to consider, rather than being serious about first earning enough to pay rent before working their way up Maslow's hierarchy.
posted by Forktine at 8:08 AM on April 10, 2009

Just wanted to encourage you to at least check eLance (and Guru - but I haven't used that one personally). I've only hired for jobs on eLance, so my experience is from the other side, but I was really happy with the platform and overall experience. The trick is to take jobs from folks who are established users and have good reviews. It may not get you a whole lot of income, but it'd something for the mean time, and typically the jobs can be done on your schedule. I was amazed at the number of personal assistant jobs that are available through the site - seems like that might be the sort of thing that could be somewhat longer-term and could potentially be done in your spare time while you're traveling (if you have any, etc). There are also lots of research-y jobs, if that's interesting to you. I think the main reason people don't like sites like these is that you have to look hard and fight hard for fair compensation, but it's probably worth a shot. Good luck!!
posted by Camille at 9:37 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

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