Keepin’ it casual: Casualization of the workforce

Casualization of the workforce. You may have heard of it. Permanent, full-time jobs are becoming increasingly hard to come by and are being replaced by insecure and uncertain jobs. Being a millennial and working casually kind of work hand in hand. Balancing study, a social life and a few days of work a week, well it just works. But what happens when it’s not quite working anymore? At the end of the day, casualization can make your work feel unvalued, make you feel unsure of your future and make it difficult to apply for permanent positions and credit cards. After five years of working casually, here’s my rant and here’s how I navigate the uncertain world of casual work.

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Expectations

When I’ve worked casually, it’s never been quite casual. I’ve had immense responsibility and been expected to work on certain projects on certain days and certain hours. Whilst I welcome EVERY opportunity with enthusiasm, excitement and a can-do attitude, it’s hard to not feel pressure when there are such high expectations of you.

Sick of no sick leave

I get that it’s kind of the whole deal with casual work. No leave, no sick days, nothing. So you go to work when you shouldn’t because you’re sick. You push yourself when you shouldn’t because you can’t afford to take a day off. And you run yourself to the ground with no bonus.

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Casual employment working against you

So you’re looking for a permanent job to have some sort of security in your life (crazy right?). It turns out that being a casual employee can work against you. Recently, I’ve been looking for jobs with a bit more security within my organisation. I came across a fixed-term position that was PERFECT! It was similar to the position I’m currently doing and would’ve been an exciting new opportunity. But no, you had to already be on a fixed-term or permanent contract. I just don’t understand how you’re immediately ineligible purely because you’ve only ever worked casually?! Again it’s the feeling like your work and your commitment is not valued by the institution. You’re ‘in’ when they want you in, but you’re out, you’re gone in an instant.

People treat you like milk, you’ve got an expiry date

I find that the most difficult thing about working casually is that people know and remind you that you have an expiry date. It stops you from reaching your full potential and taking complete ownership of projects. I totally understand because it would be pretty shit having someone come in, change and initiate projects, and then leave. But what if they don’t want to leave? What if they want to stick around and make a real difference? Unfortunately, it just feels like my talent and skills are wasted.

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Holidays whenever you want

Believe it or not, there’s a benefit to being employed casually and that is… holidays whenever you want*!!! Oh shit, right, I forgot that conditions apply. *Technically, you can holiday whenever you want. But you do so with the risk of not coming back to a job. Oh, and of course, it’s not paid because you don’t have leave. If you wish to have time off when it’s busy, it’s likely they won’t be happy.

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You might just think that I’m complaining. I want to be clear and say that I am incredibly grateful for the chance to work and earn an income. I’ve had it pretty damn good, I love my job, I love who I work for and I love who I work with. The reason I’m writing this post is because there are many people who aren’t so lucky. And one day, that could be me. My Dad always said that when you’re casual, your contract ends the minute you clock off and starts again the next morning (if there’s a next morning). The matter of fact is, that casuals are unfairly relied upon and that reliance is growing.

Sure this has short-term implications and leads to a bit of frustration. But it also has serious long-term consequences. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the University of Wollongong is comprised of 71% casual employees. That is INSANE! Call me crazy, but don’t you think that universities should be investing in the wellbeing, happiness and retention of hard-working, passionate employees to contribute back to a thriving, world-class institution?

The way I see it, one day, I’ll move on. I’ll be another number on their register that is no longer submitting fortnightly timesheets and they’ll replace me with another number. I’ll invest my passion, enthusiasm, skills and dedication to another employer. And if I can’t find one, then I’ll invest it back into myself. It’s a harsh but necessary reminder that in life, especially your working life, you have to look after yourself. You have to keep your best interests in mind and you have to be your own biggest supporter.

I’ve loved working casually and it’s opened some amazing opportunities for me. And I’m happy to keep working casually whilst I save my money, especially whilst I have my Gap Year 2.0. But I’m not sure about living my life with such uncertainty in employment. It doesn’t quite work for me.

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[A big thanks to all of the incredible colleagues who make me feel more than my employee type and make me feel valued, supported, encouraged and creative!]

Uni’s over, now what? GAP year 2.0

Two years ago, I was on exchange in Montréal. Upon the depressing thought that I would be returning back to Australia, I had a lot of people ask me what I wanted to do with my life when I finished uni. And I reflected upon this so much that I even wrote a blog post about it. Fast forward to today and I am (again) finished uni forever! I have submitted my 17,777 word thesis (yes that’s really how many words it was) and I am hanging up my student hat (well at least for the time being).

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Upon the submission of my thesis, all I wanted to do was settle in, celebrate with a few beers (which I did), focus on my work and actually have no plans (for the first time in a long time). Well, that didn’t last too long before the classic, ‘so what’s next?’ 

Does there have to be a next? Can I just focus on the now? I’ve spent the last 5 years of my uni life thinking about my next assignment, next deadline, next date, next time I’ll see my family, next pay check, next next next, go go go…. I just needed to take a want to be grateful for what I have right now.

I’m sure anyone who’s recently graduated from uni knows the feeling – you submit your last project and you suddenly stand taller, feel lighter and see the world differently. There are endless possibilities. I genuinely can take my career path in any direction I please. Which is terrifying but bloody exciting. There’s only a limited window in your life where you get the opportunity to be selfish, to pack up and go, to work casually, take risks, backpack the world before you have commitments and other priorities.

I know people and have many friends who know what they want to do. Who aren’t even finished yet and have a full-time job lined up for them. Which is awesome because who knew there were permanent full-time jobs still available (#casualizationoftheworkforce). And it’s awesome because they’ve worked so hard and made so many sacrifices to get that job. But for me, right now, the only job in the world that would make me want to sacrifice so much would be a full-time travel blogger (which 1- sadly, people don’t apply for, you gotta make that happen yourself, and 2- now that I’m free I can commit more time to making that happen which I’ll jump into now).

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BLOG, VLOG AND CREATE

Speaking of making things happen, one thing I do generally respond to the what next question, is that I’m going to focus on my blog, YouTube channel, photography and editing skills. I love what I’ve created on this platform. I love that I can sit in my room and type what my brain thinks, and that other people take time out of their day to read it and connect with it. It’s incredibly powerful and I think I’ve somewhat forgotten the magic of blogging.

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TRAVEL

Another response to the what next question, and really, I think this answer is to be expected from me… is TRAVEL! As if I’m not going to galavant around the world?! I’m heading to Bali in November with my girlfriend, Soph and am so freakin excited! It’s a place I’ve never been and a place that I’ve recently become fascinated with. With beautiful hiking, volcanos, islands, beaches and cheap alcohol, I cannot wait.

Then, at the end of the year I’m heading to Japan with my Dad and family. Dad and I are flying out in December and will be on the ski slopes on Christmas Day. Then my brother Isaac and sister Elizabeth, will join us as we venture around Japan. It’s definitely going to be a spectacular Christmas and wonderful New Years Eve.

GAP YEAR 2019?!

And then bam! Hello 2019! I think I’ve decided to call 2019 my GAP year. GAP year 2.0. Wow! I’m excited, filled with hope, options and possibilities, and I really can’t wait to jump into it all! I plan on filling it with weekends away, planning some overseas adventures, getting back into what I love and committing to making the most out of this special time. So, to anyone else out there thinking, ‘what next,’ take a deep breath and say ‘whatever the fuck I want!’

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How I did my GAP Year in style (London)

I’ve been asked quite a lot recently about the nitty gritty facts about having my GAP year living and working in London. So, here’s the sacred ‘how-to’ guide for those thinking about having a GAP year in the UK, or just looking for a break.

How About Booking Tickets? –  I was completing my HSC when I was planning my trip, therefore I didn’t have a lot of time to commit to my planning. Therefore, a travel agent was perfect for me. I used Student Flights because of their cheap flights and outstanding customer service. My travel agent was very friendly and easy to contact via email. I ended up booking a one-way flight to London (via Shanghai). My first piece of advice is to book an open ended ticket. Whilst it might be more expensive, it’s not nearly as expensive as paying 900pounds coming from London back to Sydney (yes that’s what I did and there were tears from my bank account).

What About Those Stopovers? – Take advantage of them! I got to explore Shanghai, an amazing city which I’d never considered visiting (yet would love to revisit). My travel agent hooked me up with a really good deal for a great hotel in central Shanghai and also a taxi service to and from the hotel. So definitely ask if there’s any deals going at the place of your stopover. 3 nights is more than enough to get a taste of a new city and culture (also helps with the jet-lag and acclimatisation).

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The Bund, Shanghai (the epitome of futuristic architecture).

Don’t you need a Visa? – Yes you do need a visa. For most people on their GAP year, you’ll be applying for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa. They last for 2 years and allow you to live and work in the UK. There are a few travel restrictions like, you can’t spend more than 90/180 days out of the UK etc but it’s best looking up the details to be sure you’re not detained for violating your visa requirements. I never had a problem because I was too busy working and saving money though I have heard some interesting stories.

How do I live and work in the UK/London?- One company – The Working Holiday Club. This great company was a life saver when it came to reassurance that I would have a job and somewhere to live when I made the move to London. I paid about $900 for the Jumpstart Premium which included them organising your Visa (awesome when you have no time during your HSC), 3 nights stay at a hostel whilst you get over the jet-lag, access to a job, access to cheap accommodation, support and also social meet ups. In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to pay that much money for this, however, I couldn’t imagine my life without it.

The Job – With TWHC, you work for an agency called Elements where you do temporary hotel work. You do a few days of training, you need to buy your own uniform, and it pretty much works off of your availability. A hotel will host an event, they’ll contact Elements saying they need 20 staff members, Elements sends out a text/email asking who’s available and first in best dressed. You work at 5 star hotels in central London and jobs range from waitressing, cloak room, room service, concierge, setting up, packing down – pretty much whatever the manager asks you to do. Whilst the job itself is tedious, it does offer one of the better rates for hospitality (around 6.94 pounds p/hr) and also allows you to meet other Australians with TWHC. I became really great friends with a lot of the people I worked with and it’s a great way to meet other people in London.

If hospitality isn’t your cup of tea (I got pretty sick of it after about 4 months), then you can get a job the old fashioned way. Go to a million shops/cafes/restaurants/hotels/offices/ANYWHERE and hand out a million resumes! I went to a big Westfield that I lived near and handed out about 50 resumes. I scored a job in a lovely clothing store and ended up working full time (on better rates and better clothes!). If you move to London around October then many stores will be hiring Christmas temps and usually keep them on throughout the year if you do a good job.

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The House – TWHC has access to a company who owns properties across London, Egoli. I ended up living in a shared house in Leytonstone (East London, Zone 3) with 9 other people (mostly Australians, and our lovely Brazilian, Canadian and Kiwi). You might think ‘10 people in one house! What?’ But actually it was a big house with a nice back yard, big kitchen, big loungeroom and 6 bedrooms (it’s common to share a room in London, however I needed my own space and got a single room). My room was a very decent size, complete with a double bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, a heater and glow in the dark stars on the roof (what a nice surprise). I paid 90pounds a week for rent (including all bills and unlimited internet – pretty good deal!). The people I lived with became my family and we had a great time exploring London and also Europe together.

Parts of my room in London
Parts of my room in London

What About the little things?- Ok, I know there’s more to living in London than a job and a house. For example, the Tube. I swear I could write a short novel about my adventures on the tube but I swear, it becomes your life. Public transport in London is quite expensive (accept it now). When I was working for Elements (and working 5+ days a week) I bought a weekly Oyster Card pass which is 35pounds from zone 1-3. However, once I found a job which was closer to home, I was spending about 25pounds a week on transport.

Leytonstone - where Alfred Hitchcock lived! Also where David Beckham was born! (swoon)
Leytonstone – where Alfred Hitchcock lived!
Also where David Beckham was born! (swoon)
Tube and Bus Station - Leytonstone
Tube and Bus Station – Leytonstone

Groceries?- When I was on a tight budget, I could manage with about 20-25pounds a week spent on food but I couldn’t imagine needing more than 40pounds a week. This included home brand everything, and eating left overs from dinner for lunch. Then when you get a big pay check you can splurge a bit, but I generally kept my grocery spendings down so I could save money for travelling.

How much Traveling Will I do?- Depends on how hard you can save. I was lucky that I had my parents to help me out when the bank balance was looking a bit sad and depressing, however I did get a fair bit of travel done! I went to Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Iceland. Though I had friends who barely traveled at all and also had friends who were always galavanting somewhere new so I guess it depends what you’re in London for. To travel around Europe or live in London. I think I did both quite well.

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Will I make friends?- You’ll not only meet some of the most incredible people you’ll meet in your life, but also make friendships that you’ll have for life. I know I’ve only been back for 10 months, but the friends that are still in London or somewhere else in the world, I know will be friends for a long time to come.

Housemates and Best Friends
Housemates and Best Friends

Any Last Words of Advice? – Yes. DO IT! There’s no better time than right now! Pack your life into a suitcase, book a ticket, put your walking shoes on and explore the world!

If you’ve got any other questions or comments please let me know!

xxx

A

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