Work, finally

12 Sep

Dorchester Heights Monument in Boston

My job started last week and things are actually going really well on the work-front. It’s definitely been an adjustment to drag myself out of bed before 7:30am and then spend all day in an office, but it hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought. I like the work I’m doing and even though I’m positive that the novelty of having a job will wear off soon, it feel amazing to have something interesting to do all day where I interact with other people and get paid.

It’s been challenging to live right in the city, as I am not at all a city person and taking public transit during rush hour involves interacting too closely with too many pushy, inconsiderate, Bostonians. But it really isn’t so bad because there are parks and rivers and as I walk to the subway in the morning I can smell the ocean in the air.

More to come about the job and trying to be a somewhat real grown up. For now, I’m just enjoying being busy, not having homework, and the promise of a paycheck in the near future.


Start, Stop, Try Again

31 Aug

I’ve been incredibly absent from this blog over the past month, mostly because it’s been a stressful, busy, crazy, emotional few weeks and I totally forgot that I had a blog. It is amazing to me how much things can change over the course of a month, so I have a lot to report on, both good and bad, and I’m glad that I finally feel like writing something again.

Last night, I moved out of my wonderful apartment where I had been living with my partner. She has severe dust and mold allergies and had been feeling sick in the apartment more or less since we moved in. After several trips to the emergency room, countless visits to the doctor, and the discovery of substantial rotten wood and mold in the bathroom, we decided that we had to leave. I made the terrible mistake of breaking my lease before I had secured another place to live and was screwed over by some people who told me a week ago that they had chosen someone else to move into their apartment with them. Cue emotional breakdown and stressing about being homeless/apartment-less. Then cue friends and family being amazing and helping me to figure out a plan for September. Starting next week, I’ll be staying with my cousin and her husband for a few weeks, then staying with one of my best buds from Jewish summer camp, and then finally moving into a great place in the same neighborhood with three other twenty-something people and a very cute dog that only understands Norwegian.

It was heart-wrenching to pack up my belongings from the apartment I had worked so hard to find and settle into, the place that I had decided would be my home as I embarked on the first post-college phase of my life. Staring at the empty apartment before closing the door and leaving felt somehow symbolic of all the frustration and disappointment I’ve experienced since finishing college, the crushing of all the hope and excitement I had when I packed up my car in Minnesota five months ago and drove away to start the life I had been waiting for.

The good news is that after feeling either stagnant or upset for so long, I’m actually starting to feel excited again. Amidst all this turmoil, there have been some great developments in my life that I’m really looking forward to starting. Since I last posted here, I interviewed for more jobs and then received two job offers! One was for a full-time permanent position that would have fit in with the community organizing fellowship that selected me as a finalist a few months ago. The other was for a temporary (three month) position with the organization I most wanted to work with out of all the places I applied. So I accepted the temporary position, and even though I’m nervous about the prospect of being (f)unemployed again in December, I’m so genuinely excited about this position, the organization, and the possibilities it could open for me. It was a hard decision to give up the fellowship that I originally had my heart set on, but it feels right to be taking this other position.

This whole period of time since graduating has been a continual process of taking action to make changes in my life, dealing with obstacles and let downs, revising my plan, and trying again. Trying again is the hardest part: sending another application after the last 15 have been rejected, showing up for another interview after being turned down after three rounds of interviews for the previous job, going to back to Craig’s List to find an apartment after the one I loved doesn’t work out, or turning to my friends and family for help again when I just want to be stable and self-reliant.  I plan on continuing to write here in the coming months, because who knows, maybe I will be unemployed again, or maybe I’ll actually be fun-employed for more than a few months.

Can’t even wait

26 Jul

Whether it’s waiting in line, waiting to hear back from a job, or waiting for a response to an email, I am always incredibly impatient. I just hate the feeling of having my mind in one place– the front of the line, making a decision about a job– and my reality in another place. In particular, the anticipation of something big happening, or something that I really want to happen, is so hard for me to deal with.  Right now, I’m waiting to hear back from a few jobs that I’ve interviewed for and I feel like my life is on pause as I wait for a decision. Here are some of the ways I’m dealing with my impatience in the meantime:

  • Went home to my parents’ house and am doing laundry for FREE (seriously though, laundry is so expensive in my apartment building, I don’t know how anyone can afford to have clean clothes)
  • Doing my homework for the HTML/CSS class I’m taking
  • Reading (after a brief break, I’m now reading book #13 since finishing college)
  • Checking my email constantly
  • Checking the websites of organizations I’d like to work for and hoping that they’ve recently posted the perfect job for me and will quickly make me a job offer that I can weigh against other potential offers
  • Alternating between thinking constantly about what I will do if I am offered a job or if I’m not offered a job and not thinking at all about the important decisions ahead
  • Trying to read the whole Internet
  • Worrying about other things, some more important than others (my knee, my car, global climate change, gun violence, hate crimes…)

But mostly, I’m just feeling impatient. Like I said in my previous post, I am completely shocked at how time is passing and it feels like it’s been so long since I left college and started this phase of my life. I waited so long for college to be over and to get here, and it’s not that it feels like a disappointment or that it wasn’t worth it, it just feels like more waiting, deeper levels of uncertainty, and bigger decisions on the (maybe not so) distant horizon. I’ve put so much out there at this point — applications, networking, connections– and now, I think I just need to wait for some of it to come together.

Time flies when you’re funemployed

23 Jul

One of the strangest parts of being unemployed is that I have no grasp of how time is passing. Every other period of my life so far has had a clear timeline: the school year, summer vacation, camp, internships, trimesters, programs,  breaks between academic terms. There were moments of uncertainty about what was coming next, but I always knew how long things would last and when I’d be on to something new. I was always aware of how time was moving and what I could look forward to in the future.

Right now, I have no idea what is coming next and it feels like time is moving so slowing, quickly, and confusingly all at the same time. Aside from a few small things, I have absolutely nothing planned for the foreseeable future. I am seriously shocked every time I glance at my calendar and realize what today’s date is. I cannot believe that July is almost over and that in just a few weeks, I will have been out of college for 5 months. One month after that, my first student loan payment will be due.

Someone asked me a few days ago what I was doing this summer and I paused for a moment as I remembered that summer is a distinct period of time that we are currently inhabiting and that I am, for the first time, not really doing anything this summer (aside from looking for a job, networking, etc). As someone who thrives on planning and structure, it’s been a good experience for me to create structure for myself rather than relying on other people to make it for me. At the same time, it’s hard to do this in a new city, without a car, and while trying to save money.

It’s odd to be trying to find ways to pass my time after so many years of finding ways to utilize my time. I think that what I’ve realized in these past few months is that I don’t really want either extreme. I don’t want to be toiling away, working so hard that I’m counting down the days until I can rest again. I also don’t want to be bored, trying to fill my hours with something that resembles productivity. Both of these states happen when I’m not content with where I am, only now, I’m not sure when this period is going to end.

And so my summer  of funemployment continues, without much of a plan, but with a deep desire for something to change soon. I know that changes in life are always a combination of action and patience; taking steps to make things different and waiting for something new to happen. I’m trying to sit with both of those realities right now as I keep trying to find a job, a community, and a direction while waiting for things to finally come together.

You do not currently have an interview

19 Jul

“We received many qualified applications for this position. We reviewed your information carefully and will not be considering you further at this time.”

“We decided to go in a different direction.”

“Unfortunately, we have filled the position and are no longer interviewing at this time.”

“Although we were impressed by what you have to offer, we are unable to offer you a position at this time. We received applications from over 100 candidates, most of whom would make a strong contribution to our work.”

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer you a position at this time.”

“If you see another suitable opportunity posted in the future we would encourage you to apply.”

“You do not currently have an interview.”

These are some of the many ways that I have been rejected from jobs. I suspect that I’ve been rejected by even more, but they never responded so I can only guess. Before I go any further, I have a confession to make: up until a few months ago, I had pretty much never been rejected for anything. I applied early decision to college and was accepted there, I was chosen for fellowships that I needed in order to do summer internships, and I was hired for all of the internships and leadership positions I applied for while in college.

The only instances of rejection that stand out in my memory include when I was 8 years old and auditioned for a community theater production, when I was in high school and I didn’t make the Junior Worlds Ultimate Team, and a single scholarship in college. I can admit freely that I was devastated by each of these rejections, despite the apparent facts that I had no acting experience, was never going to be a superstar ultimate player, and someone else probably needed that scholarship much more than I did.

As much as I don’t believe that the United States is a meritocracy, where anyone can make it as long as they are willing to work hard, I’ve always harbored a belief in my own personal and inevitable meritocracy; if just work hard enough, harder than anyone else, then I have to succeed. This isn’t because I think that I’m completely exempt from the workings of the world, although the privileges that come along with being a white, middle-class, cisgender, and able-bodied person do shift the workings of the world in my favor. Rather, it’s that I hold myself to such a high standard of achievement and I place much of my own sense of myself in those achievements.

So, with this track record and fear of rejection, I remember thinking a few years ago about applying for jobs and how disappointing it must be to not get hired for a job you really want. What if it’s the perfect job and you don’t get it? I didn’t know if I could handle being rejected for my “dream job.” Clearly, I did not understand how the job search process worked or the state of the economy.

Now that I’ve applied for many jobs that I really wanted and been rejected by all of them (so far), I’ve developed a different attitude towards rejection. It still hurts to be told, at least indirectly, that my skills, hard work, and personality aren’t right for a job that  I think I’m perfect for. Often, I do take it personally and wonder what is wrong with me. Other times, I respond with anger and resentment towards the people who were hired or even towards friends of my who I perceive as working less hard than me to find a job and still get one (sorry friends, I really do love you, but sometimes I can’t help envying you).

But on the whole, I’ve realized that I just can’t afford to respond to every rejection with so much emotion. I would never stop being upset! And how am I supposed to feel confident in myself if I view every rejection as a personal failure? So I’ve become more hardened toward rejection, more nonchalant about that little email or phone call informing me that this job opportunity is not the right one for me. I won’t lie, it has been challenging but ultimately very important for me it to deal with this rejection. I hope that I don’t continue being rejected indefinitely, but I’m glad that I am being forced to view myself through my skills, potential, and passion rather than through my job offers.

Good advice

13 Jul

I’ve received some great advice about looking for jobs and being unemployed. I’ve also received some ridiculous and misguided advice, but mostly it has been very helpful. I’ve compiled some of the best advice people have given me, either through personal conversations or things I’ve read on the Internet. The single most important thing I’ve learned from looking for a job is to be open to what other people have to say. Not necessarily if they are telling me to do something I know I will never like or blaming me for being unemployed, but most people have something to teach you if you’re willing to listen.

Smart motivated people will find jobs

Someone I was networking with told me this and even though I think it should be amended (smart, motivated, educated, privileged people socialized to be assertive, outgoing, and confidant will find jobs) it has been a good mantra.

Only work 3 hours a day on job searching

I probably don’t follow this advice most days, but I definitely should. If you work on finding a job every second of the day, it is likely that you will be miserable and frustrated. Working intensively for 3 hours on networking or applications is much better than 6 hours spend searching for job openings that you may not even apply for and have little chance of getting.


I’m a serious introvert, so pushing myself to talk to strangers, acquaintances or intimidating people is hard for me, but I’ve been told multiple times to talk to anyone and everyone who could be helpful in finding a job. I’ve talked with family members, family friends, my friend’s parents or relatives, alumni from my college, people from former internships, and literally everyone else that I can possibly think of. Not everyone has hooked me up with a job opportunity (but many have referred me to something), but it’s just helpful to meet people in my field so I can get a better idea of exactly what I want to do. Also, people are usually very open to talking about their jobs and how they got there so networking is not actually as scary and I made it out to be.

Get out of the house

Any excuse to leave the house is a good one. It can get super boring and kind of depressing sitting around at home all day.

Get a monthly pass for the subway

This vastly improves the changes that you will leave the house, but it really only applies if you depend on public transit. Getting a monthly pass has been great for me. It means that I don’t stress about spending $4 round trip any time I want to go somewhere.

Prepare for Plan B

My college’s career center was mostly useless, as it is primarily aimed at people pursuing corporate jobs, but it did provide one piece of wisdom. The website has a guide for preparing a plan B, or “What do I do if I’m not hired right out of college?” I’ve been more of less following the 6-month get a job plan, broken up into 2 month increments that include getting ready (working on resume, starting to network), remote job searching (looking for opportunities, applying), and on the ground searching (actually meeting with people, networking like crazy, interviewing).

Don’t blame yourself

It’s really easy for me to start wondering what I did wrong and why I don’t have a job, which just isn’t constructive for me. This article, Open Letter from a Millennial: Quit Telling Us We’re Not Special, completely breaks apart the idea that our generation is lazy and entitled and traces our economic hardships back to the expectations and mistakes of our parents’ generation.

We are not the generation that finds itself in creative abandon. We are not the generation that goes off in search of personal fulfillment and the satisfaction of a job well done, only to come back millionaires. We are the generation that takes whatever work we can get, that knows no matter how hard we try we might not succeed. We know our lot, and it’s not nearly as bright as yours.

Being broke is not the same as being being poor

Many young people like myself with little or no money complain about how poor they are in their period/state of unemployment. I totally get this; not having money is awful and frustrating and scary. But there is a big difference between being a privileged person who currently has no money but will eventually live a financially stable life and being a person who has been systematically without money their entire lives and has little hope of getting out of poverty. This test from Jezebel is a good way to tell whether you are poor or broke.

 If you got arrested, do you have someone that could bail you out of jail? If the answer is yes, then you are broke and not poor. “Poor” is not a game. You are “broke.”

Live the broke as f*ck lifestyle

But since I actually am broke,  Autostraddle’s Broke as F*ck: The Lifestyle Guide has provided lots of important advice. She suggests cutting back  on everything, being on top of your shit, and finding a way to be happy and take care of yourself despite the lack of funds. There’s no need to glorify or glamorize being young and broke, but there is always something to be learned from a tough situation:

Do what you can, and live like you must, and give up what you should – but keep what you love. Being broke is something you will hopefully grow out of, so get something out of it while you can. Learn something about yourself and the little fire inside that never goes out.

Job Search Roller Coaster

10 Jul

Sadly, it took me a while to get back here and write something, but now there is lots to report on! I’ve noticed so far that some days and weeks are exciting and encouraging and other days and weeks (and months…) are just miserable. It’s this constant roller coaster of getting my hopes up, even when I remind myself to not get my hopes up, and then kind of crashing and feeling awful and frustrated. Last week was definitely a high point on the job search roller coaster. I had three interviews, two great networking meetings, and heard about a potential job opening with an organization that I used to intern with and would love to work for. I felt like I had some good momentum going and might actually have some choices to make in the next few weeks.

Although the downturn hasn’t fully happened yet, I felt really low this weekend when connecting with some old friends and trying to explain my job search. It’s hard to communicate effectively to people how hard I am working to find a job and how difficult it is to get a job, especially in the non-profit and public policy fields. When I tell people that I’m looking for a job, I don’t know how to explain that I spend every day working on applications, searching for job openings, calling and emailing people, going to networking meetings, and getting ready for interviews.

I think it all comes down to this sense of shame about not having a job and not having a clear path. Up until this point in my life I’ve always  known what was coming next and I’ve always excelled by the traditional standards of achievement (graduating high school, getting into a good college, getting good grades, etc. ). Right now I’m really grappling with deviating from the path I’ve been on, or told I could get on, and trying to sit with the uncertainty of my life right now. I’m still self-conscious about being unemployed and sometimes don’t want to talk about it, so I end up making it worse for myself by not telling people that finding a job, is a full-time job if you’re serious about it.

This is exactly what happened last weekend while I was hanging out with friends I hadn’t seen in four years who either had a job or were close to getting one. I felt so bad about not having found a job yet and didn’t want to appear lazy or unmotivated that I barely said anything about all the interviews I’ve had, all the interesting people I’ve met, and the fellowship that I’m currently a finalist for. The effect was that my friends didn’t learn much about where I am in my life and I felt even more ashamed about my situation.

Things could obviously be quite a bit harder for me, so I want to check myself before I continue to White Whine here, but I do think that in a competitive capitalist society with a stagnant job market, being unemployed is seriously looked down on and unemployed people have to confront all kinds of negative stereotypes about themselves, whether those stereotypes come from the people around them or themselves. I hope that people who are fortunate enough to have found or kept their jobs can understand that  most people are not unemployed because of their own shortcomings. Even more than that, I hope that people like myself, who don’t have a job, can find a way to be confidant and proud of their accomplishments rather than give in to the feelings of shame and disappointment that society projects onto us and that we internalize.