What’s Next?

So, this a little piece called “Whats Next”. You see, the thing is, I’d never really planned for after University, through all of high school whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to do or be I just said I wanted to go to University and stay there and then hopefully at some point, write a book! And that was it, a vague dream but equally a strong desire, built upon 10 years of planning for my future. It was for this reason, that Arlo’s arrival was a bit of a shock, and at the time, it threatened the only thing I’d ever wanted to do, I didn’t believe I’d be able to go to University as a young single mother, and for the first time on this blog I can say, well I did!

It’s done!

I have successfully completed my degree

I wrote a first class dissertation

I don’t know my overall classification yet but in due time I will and I think I will get the 2:1 I’ve been dreaming of, perhaps more, who knows! But here’s the thing, never in any of my plans, long term or short term, has there been an idea of what to do after I finished University, which is where I find myself now. As far as I can see I have two options and one short but frustrating story to tell. My options are either a) find a graduate job or b) find a part time job and study a part time masters degree. I have no great inclination either way, I am equally fearful but excited by the prospect of doing both.

So first, the elusive ideal graduate job, and the story of what happened to me today. A graduate job as far as I know would solve one big problem, money, they tend to pay very well, way more than minimum wage, and they offer a potential “career” with the prospect of upwards mobility and pay rises, money would be something as a family we’ve not really had in abundance, and the idea is very appealing, but… Here comes the big BUT…. It’s more than likely going to be a 9-5, geographically unstable contract kinda deal, which is not hugely compatible with a child of school age, which brings me on to the story component.

I was contacted by a corporate company who had seen my CV online and wanted to talk to me about their graduate recruitment programs, I was so excited, that a company had approached me! Rather than me having to fill in countless programs and online tests. The man was keen to talk to my on the phone and when he called me this afternoon was very keen to talk to me about a software testing role, based both on my degree and my A levels in Maths and Physics due to the analytical skills required, it was going really well, he wanted to arrange a meeting. At the end of the phone call he asked if I had any questions and I asked about the (unpaid) training they offered and how the 2 year placement course worked, if they were to be in Leeds or further afield, he explained that they had a variety of people in various locations that the placements would be at, and at the point I said that that could possibly be a problem, that I would be happy to relocate but would need it to be for the full 2 year period, something that he said was not unusual a thing to happen. It was at this point I mentioned that this was due to my caring responsibilities as a parent. At this point, he mentioned that he too had a 3.5-year-old and a 6-month-old, but unfortunately the role was not suitable for a parent, I then said that within the parameters he had explained, with enough notice, I didn’t think it would be a problem.

At this point, he said, that he didn’t think I would be suitable or able to commit in the manner they required, and hung up.

I am aware that it’s not very often that such an opportunity presents itself to graduates, pretty much a job offer, comprehensive job opportunity, qualifications etc, all was fine until he knew I was a mother, which leaves me to question: Why is being a mother such a stumbling block, surely that is for me to decide, not him? This worries me, that perhaps the biggest challenge I face as the Universitymum is not getting the degree itself, but convincing others that having a child is not a disadvantage, and surely at this point, it should not reflect negatively upon my perceived ability or competency. It’s so frustrating, I’ve never had someone reject me in such a way the moment they found out I was a parent, and make such an assumption about my suitability and ability to a job. I also wonder, that if I was a male, would they have made such presumptions? or would they have presumed that someone else was the primary caregiver and that it would have no effect upon their ability to be a “software developer”, ugh, anyway, that is only one rejection, potentially of many to come, I will be careful next time, to ensure that I do not let them know that I am a mother, lest it influence their perception on me, and only once I have the job make a professional disclosure.

Story over, my second option, part-time job, part time masters seems a little easier to swallow, more flexible, less pressure doing something I actually want to do… But it does mean 2 more years of uncertainty, of probably minimum wage and many hours spent in library’s, of limbo and a tiny second bedroom and low credit score…

Ahh the future! So close yet so far, I do have the luxury of having until September being Arlo’s primary care, a SAHM with 15 hours childcare, before I have to have a concrete plan in place. Such is the mystery of life! The unknown and the millions of possibilities and opportunities coming this way for my little family, who knows? My Dad thinks I can write a book, so lets see how that goes!

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