I have come to realise that my 20s were pretty mental.
It’s true. I have just had the maddest year, and it is all about to come to a juddering halt when uni officially finishes with the hand-in of my MA portfolio, but the path I took to get here started when I moved to Edinburgh at the tender age of 20 – a nice even 10 years ago.
So, since this is the first post I’ve written in a long time – too long, but I plan to keep things current from now on – it seems appropriate to take a look back at the events that led me here, to this very blog post and the upcoming completion of an MA from Glasgow Caledonian.
Right then, I graduated from Napier University in 2001 (I think) with the BSc in Multimedia Tech after going straight in to the 3rd year. I didn’t do honours for various reasons, not least of which was that I was totally skint, living in Edinburgh and in dire need of a full time job; part time work in Argos only just covered the rent.
I went full time in Cash Converters on Leith Walk for a while and one day, when I was walking out the door at the end of my shift I got a phone call. Totally out of the blue a mate from college called to say he’d been promoted at his work and they had tasked him with filling the vacancy he left behind. So there I was with a job as a web designer.
That was for a mobile content company which shall remain nameless, and we did some pretty mad stuff back then – much of it I will not put on public record! Web design led to multimedia production which also involved creating affiliate newsletters.
The newsletters were the trigger for the career change. We were about 3 years in, and after various, um, let’s call them ‘failed strategies’ the company was in trouble and I started looking around for new jobs; there were none.
After sending out one particularly witty newsletter the manager (my mate from college) came chuckling out of his office and said “You shoulda been a journalist, Gilmartin!”
It was a career I’d considered way back in high school, but somehow I just fell in to IT and multimedia. That was the moment I decided to make the switch.
I applied for a journalism course, pulled a sickie to attend interview and started that August. It was an HND, and the first year was crazy in good ways and in some pretty bad ways. 2nd year was better, due in no small part to the birth of my son – but that did put paid to any plans I had to go to uni.
So by 2007 I have two HNDs and a degree, no relevant job prospects, and extensive experience working for broadband tech support call centers….
In 2008 I moved from Tiscali to O2, having resolved to save some cash and go get a degree and a job doing what I wanted to do.
Now, something I definitely will put on public record is that O2 was great fun to work for. I loved the guys in that team and am still in touch with many of them. O2 was good to me; it was well paid, they gave me plenty of opportunities for growth beyond a mere phone monkey, they sent me to Leeds for 5 days, which was nice, and they hooked up their staff with free Sonisphere tickets last year – which was even nicer!
I was sad to leave O2, but last September was the beginning of that degree I promised myself I’d go and get – MA Multimedia Journalism. Now the exams are over and it’s just portfolio I need to hand in. It’s been a good, difficult, challenging and enjoyable year.
I look back on the near-ten-year journey tht brought me here, and a few paragraphs doesn’t do it justice. The memories and the people are the important part; more important than the piece of paper from any uni. I think it really is true that it’s not where you’re going, it’s how you get there that matters.
So what of the next 10 years? Well, get a job or set up on my own, watch my kids grow up, and who knows what else? I’d like to bump into some of those characters from the last 10 years whom I lost along the way. Mick Walsh, and Nessa Illott from Cash Converters (remember Pint Fridays, guys?), Paul Reilly, the college mate who got me the job – get in touch Paul, I think it’s your round.
I was never happy with my Napier degree – it was too easy. No challenge. I’m happy with the MA. Ultimately I just want to live on my own terms now. When you’re in your late teens and early twenties you want to set the world on fire. I just want to set my world on fire, and fiddle while it burns.