By Paul Rodger
With graduation season looming fast, as anxious waits are gradually rescinded by long awaited – or perhaps not – exam result releases, thousands of undergraduates across the country on the cusp of postgraduate-hood will have the same question on their minds: “what’s the next step after graduation?”
For some, this will be a daunting position to be in, with generous student loans coming to an end, the false sense of security and insulation that being an undergrad largely offers, as well as the four years or so to consider your next move that have inevitably elapsed. On the horizon, the “real world” is beckoning. Some will be focussed on post-graduate study, others choosing to take some time out, while many will be looking to thrust themselves into the world of work, gripping their hands for the first time on the first rung of the career ladder.
These experiences and more have all been part of the eclectic, fervent career pursuits of author Charles Raymond. Documented in his debut publication Hired, Fired, Fled, released earlier this month, Raymond charts in humorous, lively and detailed anecdotal style his life from adolescence into manhood, and the trials and tribulations of life after university.
Graduating in 2000 from the University of the West of England in English studies, in the following 15 years Raymond went onto ply himself in 14 different jobs. Having thrown himself into sub-Saharan Africa at the age of 18, landing in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, he ostensibly claimed to be a tourist and subsequently landed a job as a safari guide. After university he went onto work across an eye-opening range of positions, including a catering assistant on a film set; a ski resort pick-up driver; a production assistant (not once, but three times); an assistant director; a waste disposal man; a publicity and promotions assistant; and – of course – a Caribbean booze cruise manager, to name a few.
What is clearly striking about Raymond’s book is his diverse working background, carried out across several countries and continents, from Zimbabwe to Vancouver, and the sub-zero heights of the French Alps to the sun torched metropolis of Dubai, and everything in between. Yet as much as his work reflects the knowledge that travel can offer, Raymond poses a structured, personal philosophical approach in his writing; inherent in the reflective paragraph style and his perpetual vision and goal of not just successfully landing a career, but finding the satisfaction to go along with it. Finding freedom in dodging the rat race and instead pursuing a career with a considered, arms length approach, Raymond demands ‘why the intense need to conform?’
Instead opting for what he dubs the ‘oyster theory’, that being the idea that “the world is your oyster”, Raymond jettisons himself across the globe. Gaining invaluable career building wisdom along the way, from the people he meets, highs and lows felt, and the disconcerting oscillations in job stability, that – without giving too much away – culminates in the daunting prospect summed up in two words many couldn’t bare to hear: career change.
Not one to be deterred however, Raymond continuously strived in his application conquests, bolstering his CV in the process, and finding contentment and perspective in some of the lesser thought of places. A personal favourite, chapter 21, where he works as a waste disposal collector in his home city of London, a position he describes as ‘punishment, reparation, and escape in a simple, repetitive task’. Taking time away from his career aspirations, having been caught up in a culmination of disappointment and stress, and choosing to switch career paths from film back to his initial pursuit of journalism, he returns to the career fray once again. Offering affirming advice, Raymond asserts: ‘I noted that knowing yourself, and knowing what to do with your days are inseparable. That’s the first step: know yourself’.
With tongue-in-cheek humour, gripping angst, and weighted notational advice balanced alongside the narrative of Raymond’s dynamic background, Hired, Fired, Fled offers an upfront and relatable compilation of life post-study, and the jarring and jubilance that comes with the turbulent pursuit of career-building – serving as a highly recommendable read to anyone graduating, or people entering into their penultimate years of study.
*Hired, Fired, Fled is available in paperback from Amazon.co.uk for £8.99, or on Kindle for £2.99d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’).appendChild(s);