It has taken me so long to write this post. Probably because I have been utilizing my time to workout, paint and study french, which I was unable to do whilst living in London.
I'm back living in Finland and I have to say that I'm relieved to be back. London wasn't for me after all. It's a shame, because I used to love that city. Then I got to see the other, more real side of London and realized that I didn't like living in London anymore. I still like London, it's a great city to visit. And there might come a time when I have to live in London again, but in the mean time, I'm glad to be back in Finland <3
This post inclued brief information about my work experience in London.
Finding a job in London.
This entirely depends on what your profession is. If it's in customer service, then no problem, you have lots to choose from. If you want to work for a business company, I'm quite positive you'll be able to get a proper position (depending on your education) in no time. I would imagine that even those who are Humanitarians or Artist, will be able to get some kind of work that matches their degree.
I got a job interview even before I graduated from makeup school. I went through the interviews and style checks and got a job five days after I had graduated. I was a freelance makeup artist and a consultant for different makeup brands in department stores. So even as a makeup artist, I was able to find work in no time.
here comes the unpleasant part, when you get that job from your chosen
field, there is chance that you have to get a second job as well. You
see London is a very expensive city, and unless you already have a lot
of work experience and a fancy degree, chances are, you have to start from
the bottom and work your way up over the years. Now I imagine that it's
like this every where in the world. However unlike in Finland for
example, where the odds of getting a job in the field you are
educated-trained in is minimal, in London the chances of getting the job
you really want are high. In Finland I'm unemployed because all the consultant positions have been filled and there are no new positions opening. Here the demand for eight consultants per makeup brands is zero. In Finnish department stores they only need maybe four consultants, and usually they only have two consultants working per day. One for the morning shift and one for the evening shift. I suppose it is a tradition in Finland that once you get a job, you hold on to it until you retire. Anyway, it's not like that in London at all. New positions open all the time. And many places offer internships. So no matter what field you are looking to get into, I'm quite positive it won't be way too difficult.
Rate of pay.
London just raised their minimum wage from £5 to £6-something/h. I can hear whole of Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium laughing. It is a laughable rate and the UK really expects people to live on that rate. Sure the taxes are lower than in Germany, but the people in Germany get paid atleast £10/h, or so I hear. I tried my best to live on that £6-something pay, but as it turned out, I couldn't. In Finland my pay as a waitress was little over £11/h including evening-weekend-sunday allowance. In London my flatmate from Germany said that her parents wouldn't let her work for £6-something because it would be exploitation. It is exploitation, many people in London have to get by with minimum wage, work long hours in a cold, stressful enviroment and no such thing as after 6pm evening allowance exists. It was shocking for me to discover that there were no evening, or weekend allowances and you didn't get double pay on sunday (every sunday, not just bank holidays). Not to mention travelling in London is very expensive. Depending on where you live, you could end up spending 3h per day just travelling to work. And if you can't afford to take the tube, you'll spend even more time travelling to work because bus routes are long and they stop very often. And the fares....I was paid £46 per day and the tube zones 1-4 was £43 per WEEK. So there you have it.
I can't speak for all the sectors, but customer service and teaching pay you the minimum wage. Which means that teachers or waiters for example usually get a second job to do on the side. I have read about my friend's adventures in our uni town as a lecturer-groundskeeper-receptionist. I keep thinking that in Finland he wouldn't have to be a groundskeeper-receptionist because he would be able to get by as a lecturer no problem.
Having to do two jobs means that you don't have any freetime. You pretty much go home to sleep and eat. And this will probably go on for years and years until they promote you in your dream job or something. And I have to mention this, it says a lot about the country when you constantly see people, grown adults, living in shared houses. They simply can't afford to get a flat of their own so they have share a house with 2 people or more. I wonder if this has something to do with the rate of pay in the UK..?
It is pretty much up to you to decide whether the low pay and two jobs is worth the effort. I was wasting away in London so I decided to leave. For me there was no point in staying in London, selling makeups for minimal pay whilst in Finland I would be able to do the same thing and actually get paid for it (or so I thought, there are no open vacancies at the moment). So the day I left London was a happy day for me and I don't regret it.
Basically to survive in London, you need to get an estimate of your rent, bills, council tax, food and travel expenses and see if you can survive with the pay you are getting. There is no way to sugarcoat things, especially if you are coming to London from an affluent society. Living in London is rough.
Finding a job in London is easy, I have heard many stories about people moving to London and getting a job at Boots or Sainsbury's without previous experience and are still living in London. I read many stories Finns had written on this forum about moving to London. It was not that surprising to read that all of them had had a nasty beginning in London. And it usually involved housing. Anyway, even I who had just graduated from makeup school got a job as a makeup artist- consultant like that. So it really depends on the career you are pursuing. Naturally artists will have it more rough because even in London, it is difficult to earn money as an artist or as a ballerina. A friend of mine was a business student, he was an intern for a year and now the company has send him to Shanghai to teach english to the employees there.
I also have to mention that not all people who come to London come from affluent societies, many people who come to London had to leave their home country and so they have nothing when they come to London. One of the really positive aspects of London is that it's not afraid of foreigners and immigrants. All the staff I met in most of the Boots I worked at were immigrants and many of them were managers. I found that inspiring. It was wonderful to see that even people who come to London with little or no previous work experience can get a decent job and have the possibility to move up. The only thing that really bothers me is that as kind to foreigners as London is, it also shamelessly exploits them. But then again, fleeing one's home country and getting a shared flat and a job in London is the most wonderful thing ever happened to some people of London. It is and I am very happy that London accepted me with my quirky accent and made me feel like a Londonette.
I can say without a doubt that the opportunities in London are indeed endless. And
even though I'm not in love with London anymore, I still find the experiences I got, priceless.
I tried to keep this post short like the living in London post. After all I can't say too much about working in London because I only had the makeup consultant job. I did some research and asked people about their experiences, but all these people work or worked in customer service. I don't know anybody who gets a high pay rate in London. But hopefully you got the idea of what working can be like in London.
As for me, I have my eye on a new job, that could pay off all my student loans and possibly get me my very own flat in Helsinki <3 If I get this job, I could also be able to paint and work as a makeup artist without having to worry about where the next paycheck comes from.
I have an interview next month in Amsterdam and I'm praying that I'll get to the final stage of that interview day. The interview process of this company is very demanding and long, and of course I wish that they hire me, but at the moment I'm concentrating on getting to that final stage of the interview day. I have a month left to prepare myself. Wish me luck!
Thank you for reading and enjoy that sunshine, it's spring!