Escaping the City

JOE BATES doesn’t want to give in to the temptations of corporate employment.

careers joe bates London Music the city Times Top 100 trader unemployment

It’s third year, I’m an arts student and I can’t stomach the City. So it’s pretty much ten months to poor o’clock.

I am not looking forward to it. Moving from what is effectively a castle to what will almost certainly be a dive is unappealing to say the least. But more off-putting still is the idea that in a month or so I’ll be applying for a job that could become my career.

For lots of us, this is the expectation. Leave school, maybe take a gap year, get a good degree and find a good job with a stable career path. But it’s a well-worn track than does more than just leave me cold: it scares the bejeezus out of me.

The problem is that careers seem to be more than something you do, they start to define who you are. People who go into trading don’t just get a job, they become traders. I don’t want my job to say more about me than all of the other things that make up my life (particularly since I’m likely to get a fairly rubbish job).

It’s like being back in freshers’ week, when the ever present question ‘So what subject do you do?’ seemed to primarily be a means of pigeonholing me in with my fellow music students. But at least I do actually really like music. What if I end up working shifts in a bar? It may help pay the rent, but it’s not how I want to self-define.

The real problem is that, like many artsy tossers with more knitwear than sense, I want to follow my dreams. I really want to make music for a living, meaning I inevitably will spend years calling myself ‘self-employed’ when what I really mean is ‘unemployed’.

This grim destiny means that the job I’m looking for next year is more a job to tide me over – to pay the rent while I try to eke out a reputation as a composer. And while I may feel this is a more noble path than that of a city slicker, I fear it’s the opposite.

Getting a job for the sake of the cash allows you to live comfortably and use your spare time to further your hobbies and interests. I am deliberately going for badly paid jobs and then hoping to persuade people to pay me to do my hobbies. I actually want them to pay to see the music I wrote in my spare time.

So it’s more than just a life of ignominious poverty that awaits – it’s one laced with the arrogance and pseudo-superiority that only those in the creative arts can muster. Maybe I should just give in, buy a suit and pick from the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers.