OUR PLAN IS working. We’ve turned a corner.’
So said the late Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan when delivering his budget to the Dáil back in December 2009. Having just started a four-year course in DIT, it did make me slightly hopeful.
‘If we’re supposedly turning the corner heading into 2010, surely it’ll be even better come 2013/14!’’ I thought. Unfortunately, we only began to turn the corner just as I entered my final year.
I was proud to finish the one and only college course I had signed up for. I was proud that I attained a degree without repeating a single module. I was proud that I had a piece of paper that maybe, just maybe, would allow me to further myself in my field of study without the thought of doing a masters.
Then harsh reality set in. ‘We would like to offer you an internship.’ ‘Fantastic’, I thought to myself. ‘A chance to prove myself and perhaps be kept on!’ Then came the sticking point.‘Unfortunately we will be unable to offer you payment for the duration of the internship.’This was, of course, to become a recurring theme.
As interesting some of the internships I did were, the lack of payment never made things easier. Even if I managed to network my way into paid freelance opportunities, I struggled to break even. Eventually, I joined the masses at the local social welfare office and managed to keep up my unpaid work, wishing and hoping for a lucky break that would lead to a steady flow of income. It never arrived.
‘Do I really have to keep doing this until I get the required three years’ experience most job adverts state?’
It was at that point, nearly a year after finishing college that I decided to put my skills to better use and work to get a TEFL certificate. I initially wanted to do Primary Education, but was put off it around the time of the CAO deadline due to a poor forecast in that particular sector. Maybe with real life experience, I’ll return to that option down the line.
TEFL instantly opened doors for working abroad and gaining experience in a whole new environment; experience that I’d like to use back home down the line. It could be a year from now, it could easily be more. When I got the call of a job offer teaching in a state school in southern Spain for the academic year I accepted on the spot. I didn’t even need to call back following a chance to think it over.
We as a nation talk of emigration as a bad thing. Any time you see a report on the subject, it often takes a more negative angle. One moment we’re getting into trouble, other times we’re lamenting for a pack of Tayto and a cup of Barry’s like you’d swear it was the end of the world.
We as a demographic have offered the world so much as a diaspora, and if I can keep a video diary in the process to prove just that, what harm?