I moved to London in January 2015, after months of job hunting. While I was interning, a friend of mine told me about some vacancies at her work. It wasn’t a PR agency but a media monitoring and data analysis company aka the evaluation aspect of PR.
I had been considering this opportunity for a while, but I hate the idea that: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. I was determined to find a job by myself. But after living in London on an intern wage, I knew I needed something more sustainable and to be frank, I felt I was ready to progress. In fact, I knew I was ready.
So I applied. The timing was fortuitous because a day or two later I was invited to an assessment session. I was so pleased! When I got there, I was greeted by two of the nicest receptionists I have ever met. They were lovely and put me straight at ease.
The assessment consisted of three face-to-face interviews, with a total of 6 people, each asking different questions and scenarios. I left feeling exhausted and with a strong sense of failure. I was convinced I hadn’t got the job. So much in fact, I emailed an up-and-coming PR agency and talked to another about an internship.
I don’t know why I felt so strongly, I got offered the job about a week later. I was also offered an internship extension of six weeks, but I’d finally progressed from ‘intern’ to ‘account executive’. I started the Monday after my internship ended.
I instantly felt at ease when I met my line manager. She is absolutely positively one of the best human beings I have ever met. After the intensive training, tests and probationary period, I sometimes would sit at my desk and look around the office and think ‘I’ve finally made it’. I told my line manager this once and she just chuckled.
As soon as I felt happier in my work, I started to appreciate London more. I don’t think I ever really liked it. I came to realise that the word for London would be ‘money’. The city is driven by it, everyone is chasing it, the average person probably doesn’t have enough of it, yet, everyone stays there.
I would later come to realise that London is most definitely not my place, but I tried to make the most of my time there, mainly because I know there are people all over the world who are desperate to get to London. I felt lucky to be there, although I also acknowledge that I actively made it happen.
So here’s what 9 months in London looked like for me:
- Walked from Victoria to; Battersea, the Docklands (and went past the Tower of London), Kew and around key landmarks
- I visited Kew Gardens – the four hour walk was slightly longer than the 2.5 that Google Maps had suggested, but it was well worth it! Although we visited in early June, it was an unexpectedly glorious Sunday with very few visitors.
- Visited the Tate Modern
- Saw St Pauls
- Frequently walked past: Big Ben, the London Eye, No.10, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey – I’m not sure that the novelty of seeing these places on a daily basis ever actually wore off
- Visited the Natural History Museum
- Saw the changing of the guard parade
- Visited the Hard Rock Cafe
- Visited the Guy Bourdin: Image Maker exhibition at Somerset House
- Audience member for Radio 4 program ‘The unbelievable truth’ hosted by David Mitchell – my friend actually applied online for the tickets and kindly took me with her, it was definitely a great experience
- Audience member for TV show ‘QI’ hosted by Stephen Fry (it was the same process as for the R4 ticket, you just apply online and keep your fingers crossed! We were lucky twice)
- Watched the Marilyn Monroe film ‘The Misfits’ at the BFI
- Went to the Science Museum and inadvertently ended up going to a screening and Q&A session afterwards on the film Manhunter (1986)
- I took advantage of the cheap getaways available from London by taking the Eurostar to Paris, flying to Gothenburg for £20 return! I also visited Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham, Sheffield, Essex and Belfast
- Spent time in St James Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
- Went to Escape Rooms where you puzzle your way to freedom
- Visited High Gate Cemetery and took the tour – it may sound morbid but it’s fascinating learning about the symbolism of grave stones. The history of the cemetery itself is magnificent, as are the countless familiar names
- Went swimming at Kings Cross Pond before work – it was pretty fresh at 15 degrees and 7.45 am in late September but it’s fantastic! I’m not sure where else in the world you can swim in a pond outdoors, in a capital city next to a building site and still feel like you’re in the most peaceful, tranquil, relaxed place
- Went out in Camden town, Waterloo and Shoreditch
- Went to a talk called ‘The Science of Breaking Bad’ at The Royal Instituion: Science
- I saw the Pelicans in St James park, one of them caught a fish – I saw the shadow of it disappear when the bird looked up
- I spent countless hours walking around London, including an hour walk each way to and from work. One morning I spotted my first city fox hanging around the MoD
- I witnessed London in Bloom – it truly is beautiful throughout the seasons
Reading over this, I think that I only scratched the surface and admit that there are so many more things to do, so many more things that I still want to do in fact. Harry Potter world is definitely still on my list! As is the Cereal Killer Cafe. Yet, I’ve had many unique experiences with some fantastic people and frankly, I wouldn’t change them.
I suppose the irony of this post is the ending. I spent 9 months living and working in London after spending so much time searching for a job (read here). I finally ‘made it’, I finally got the illusive graduate job that I had been wanting so badly and yet, I realised that this was not the city for me, nor the direction I wanted my career to take.
I quit my job, I left the city and moved home briefly before embarking on the next chapter of my life in New Zealand. My main aim being: further my career whilst living abroad and then travel a little afterwards.
At times, both before and after leaving home, I have questioned if this is the right decision. But I am confident that it is because if I never try it, I would most definitely regret it when I am older. Whether or not it will fulfill what I am looking for is yet to be realised.