By Paul Rodger
Charlie Raymond is a London born and raised author, now in his 30s, reflecting back on his lively post-university years of work and career-building in his debut novel Hired, Fired, Fled. Discussing what he sees as the challenges to today’s graduates, Raymond believes ‘I understand what students are facing, as I’ve never really stopped dreaming of the perfect job, or a contented workplace, of beating the rat race, and of travelling the world as much as possible (which is very much like graduates of today).’ Getting to know the author a little better, his experiences, and his thoughts on university, job searching, his book, and life in general, here’s what he has to say.
Q1. Firstly, how does it feel to have finished your debut publication and be launching it?
CR: It feels like the end of a long journey and the beginning of an even longer one. The writing began almost 6 years ago, but really picked up pace in the last 2 years. Now it’s edited and in print, it’s a proud moment and feels fantastic, but it’s also daunting; I know the battle has now begun. I’ll need to work hard every day to get this book into people’s hands across the world.
Q2. You said in your book you didn’t particularly enjoy university, questioning its lack of preparing people for life after graduation. If any, apart from your degree, what positives did you take away from your time at university?
CR: Not much, beyond the ability to use a degree to find work, which is clearly a huge bonus, and one that can’t be ignored. Yes, I had good times and met good people, but I didn’t feel challenged, or as though I was being prepared for the real world. It was sort of like kindergarten: easy, care-free education you should do, but don’t have to do, with similar levels of dribbling, and munching on fish fingers.
Q3. A lot of people take a gap year after uni. You took yours before – how would you compare the different timings?
CR: I’d say it’s best taken before uni, if you can, but it doesn’t matter much either way. If you can go, go, be it before uni or after. Travel is the greatest way to understand your place on Earth, to open your eyes to other ways of life. All I would say is, don’t just travel the east coast of Australia, or somewhere safe and easy. Challenge yourself. Immerse yourself in something alien. And switch off your phone!
Q4. Describing pursuing a career in print journalism in 2008 like ‘becoming a candlestick-maker after the invention of electricity’, what advice would you offer to students looking to enter into the industry today?
CR: Enter with your eyes open is all. It can be a great career, filled with variety, but it’s tough, and the pay is usually terrible. That said, I loved restaurant reviewing in Dubai, writing travel articles around the Middle East and Europe, and I even loved working on some business news – but only some. In any career, you need to think very carefully about not just the good days, but also the bad, the average, and the mundane…A lot of industries are being disrupted, so you never know what a career will look like in the future. Do your research, and have a think about how that industry might look in 5/10/20 years from today.
Q5. Would you still uphold the ‘oyster theory’?
CR: Yes, certainly. The Gulf is open to expats. China is open. Africa is open. The entire EU is open (at least for now). The Caribbean is relatively open. And of course Australia and New Zealand are open to people under 31. Much of the world is open. It’s not always easy, but it is do-able. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Do your research, and get going.
Q6. Aside from ‘purpose’ and ‘happiness’, what else do you feel is important in crafting a career?
CR: Variety. I like a balance between office time, and time spent outside, on the move, meeting people, at events, at conferences etc. The most important thing, though, is who you’ll be working with. Be sure to be surrounded with good, driven, friendly people, and you’ll be a step closer to being happy, whatever the industry. Negative energy, angry people, and lazy idiots ruin a workplace.
Q7. Having carried out so many diverse jobs, is it ever a wonder to you how you maintained your focus on film work, and later journalism, for so long?
CR: Not particularly. Obsession is master of all. It’s almost impossible to shake, as you fall in love with a goal, or a way of life, and can’t see another way of behaving. I can always move sideways within media, but my core interests are served within the creative industries, such as variety, travel, and being surrounded by great people, so I reckon I’m lumped with it for life!
Q8. What are your hopes following the launch for Hired, Fired, Fled, in terms of reach and appeal?
CR: I think this book is, as I say on my website, the book I would have read at a much younger age, as I wouldn’t have wanted to be preached at…I would’ve wanted to read a book that’s accessible, raw, and (hopefully) humorous. And I’m not alone – I think it has appeal across the world. Millions of students, graduates, and career confused people should be able to enjoy my story, taking from it what they will, be it a direct lesson, or a thought-provoking idea. Therefore Hired, Fired, Fled should – fingers crossed – have worldwide potential. At least that’s the goal. Let’s see how it pans out over the next year or so.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);