Every day being a gift, or something

by Jinryu

Tomorrow, graduate applications for jobs 2015 jobs are due.  I’m more or less on top of it– with today and tomorrow to finish things, I should be fine.  There are only about 5-6 firms to apply to in any case, so it’s really just perfectionism and paranoia that’s preventing me from handing things in.

I do not think I am designed to live in isolation.  Yes, [CM] lives with me– but during the day, she’s at the hospital doing work.  During the day… I type.  And I type.  And then I type some more.


Right now, there are mainly three things on my plate.  The first is the College of Law on-line course, which is takes as much time as full time classes in terms of readings and homework.  This is a post-degree certification that allows me to apply for the solicitor’s license.  Next, my thesis.  I’m writing about recent changes in Australian privacy law that changes the conditions that must be met before Australia sends information overseas, and how this relates to similar regimes in Europe.  Finally, the last thing on my plate is applications.

Of the bunch, I would say that applications are the most tedious of the bunch, because I’ve been grinding at this game for a long time now.  In fact, this round of graduate applications is my third time playing this game.  Although I haven’t graduated yet, I had two goes at clerkship applications in the past– once last  year, and once the year before it.  While I am glad that I did make attempts early because it was valuable experience, it’s also getting to the point where honestly, there’s not much more about my game that I can improve.  Someone just have to give me a chance.

I’ve gotten feedback from employers on a casual basis and just flat out asked them: what is wrong with me?  Why won’t anyone give me a permanent position?  And these are people who have nothing to lose by telling me the truth, and are in the position to hire people, but just won’t give me that permanent position.  I’m going to be working more or less full time as a paralegal for the next month or so at least, but I know that’s not going to lead to a permanent position.  Like all the other firms where I’ve paralegaled at, paralegals are largely interchangeable and disposable.

Why haven’t I landed a graduate position yet? The answer is two fold.  First, my accent: with a clear non-Australian accent, I am a flight risk.  My accent is a neutral North-American one, and right away, it tells the employer that I might not have permanent residency– which they would be right about.  So then, compared to local born-students with overseas heritage and languages, I’m a little bit more of a risk right there because if they invest time in me and the government decides not to let me stay, it’s a waste of substantial investment on their part.

The second reason is “over-qualification.”  On numerous occasions, the feedback on my CV was that my extensive experiences not just in law and community work, but in my previous life as a government healthcare administrator, especially in positions of management, made me overqualified for clerkships.  Basically: they weren’t sure I could cooperate with a bunch of fresh grads who knew nothing of the workforce.  They weren’t sure if I could reallly really work in the bullpen with a bunch of people who had no work ethic.  Which is, really, bull: because I have tons of experience working with incompetent people (um, hello, I worked for like 7 years in government healthcare?) and I’ve always made the best of it for everyone involved.  The underlying reasoning which most employers won’t say though is that they want someone who is more naive and more malleable to abuse.

The two above factors combine to be that, with both experience and international know-how, I am a flight risk. I could work anywhere I want and adapt– so what’s to say that I’m invested in a Syndey life?

Admittedly, that’s one thing I’ve changed about my pitch, and it’s what got me the internship in Hong Kong: playing the game and saying that I was invested in living there.  Which was only partly true.   But it seemed to be enough to convince them to give me a chance.  Then again, Hong Kong in general has a much friendlier stance on international background lawyers.

Which, in a way, brings me back to this thing I keep hearing by people in Sydney that Australia is “so multicultural.”  No, it’s not.  Montreal is multicultural.  Canada is multicultural.  Go to a comedy show and see how sensitive people are to racism here, versus in Canada and the USA– multiculturalism here is like North America back in the late 80s and early 90s.  Sydney is all about advertising education opportunities, and then denying Australian educated internationals the opportunities to work that they were promised.  And it’s not just the legal market– it’s also the same with medicine and engineering.


There’s clearly a disconnect between the education industry’s ability to invoke trigger happiness with the immigration department’s student visa guns and their willingness to deal with graduates who no longer have any money to spend on further tertiary education at international rates.  It’s an industry of education tourism, that’s what it is.

I am saying that I am upset because I am not crazy, I have no glaring problems, and I am a mature person who is both willing and able to adapt to work conditions.  I am hungry and I am responsible.  The fact of the matter is that I know I am just as qualified as people who are landing clerkships and jobs, but I keep on getting passed up on because of this stigma surrounding international graduates.  I’m not just making this up.  It’s a thing. And it’s bullshit.


It makes it really hard to stay motivated and spend day upon day writing applications where I actually read it back to myself with a smile, because that’s the only way positivity leaks into my writing.  For the hundredth time, okay, let me tell you why I want to work for your firm, and why your firm is the only one in the world that is with me.  Yes, I tell that to all girls in HR.  Let me tell you about how awesome I am.

Please, go ahead: judge me again. I won’t take it personally.



Anyway, griping.  All that negative destructive energy has exhausted itself.  It’s time to do something positive and constructive: Back to application writing.