I remember studying the Crimean War in Year 12 and coming across the memorable terms ‘meritocratic society’ and ‘aristocratic society’, i.e. that the military was full of aristocratic men who had no right to be there, and who had only gained the position on account of their title, rank, or relations. Back then, I smiled to myself thinking how far we’d come, how far humanity had advanced to realise that it was the ability and talent of people instead which counted.
And now that I’ve reached the stage in my life when I’m applying for work experience, internships, and one day soon, dum-dem-dum, jobs, I’ve begun to see this idea cropping back up.
Imagine my despair when on applying for several internships and work experience placements earlier this year, I received not even an automated reply from many of the companies, despite having spent hours updating my CV and perfecting my Cover Letter.
Imagine my horror when my friend, upon asking her tutor about internships, was told that she was unlikely to get one unless she knew someone.
Imagine my outrage when a girl in my class had a position created for her in her godparent’s company, complete with a good pay cheque, in-job training and, of course, no interview.
And there was me thinking that society had advanced.
Because the truth is, unless you have good connections in the field you wish to pursue, no matter how suited you are to the placement, or how good and talented you are, you’re unlikely to ever get a look-in in the competitive world of internships. And unfortunately for me, having no relation, or family friend or anybody who works in publishing means that I am destined to forever be at the bottom of the pile of nameless application forms on somebody’s desk. I think I have more chance of winning the lottery. It doesn’t matter that I have good experience on my CV – do you think they’ll care that I was Head Girl when Simon from Marketing’s daughter is really interested and could start tomorrow?
No, they won’t.
But I won’t give up. There’s an inherent optimism inside me which tells me that if I just keep trying, that something good might come way. Plus, I went to a lecture on publishing the other day, held by a woman from Penguin who gave her email address out and so fingers crossed for that. Because when it comes down to it, I have to play life at it’s own game and now that I know somebody, I’m sure that it doesn’t matter what exactly I know. Sad, but true.