I mentioned this past week that I was resuming the job search this month and wanted to share my process here on the blog. Before I get into the specifics of my search, I thought it might be a good idea to give you a bit of context about my past experience looking for full-time jobs post-graduation before I talk about what I’m doing now.
I don’t know if I’ll regret putting all this out there, but I want to because my fear is that there are a lot of people out there like me who are similar situations. I’ll be happy if anyone learns from my mistakes or becomes motivated to pursue any of their dreams that they may be putting off for whatever reason.
Let me just start by saying I’ve always been intimidated by the prospect of searching for jobs. I don’t find it particularly fun or exciting, especially after having a few times come really close to bagging the dream job only to find that there was someone out there that was better qualified (or as my inner critic spins it better liked).
Something I’ve had to learn is not to let rejections set me back. Hank Green recently made an extremely inspiring video called “My Worst Job Search Fail” on the vlogbrothers channel that put the job search into such a healthier perspective for me. I’ve embedded it below because I think it contains an important message for anyone who is looking for a job.
First A Little Context . . .
I attended Iowa State University from 2011–2015 and decided to major in English because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but felt like an English degree would prepare me for a wide array of careers that require strong communication and analytical skills. As a backup plan for the chance I would not immediately find a job post-graduation, I had applied to a Master’s program at UT Dallas, where I knew my brother would be soon studying.
At UT Dallas I studied Emerging Media & Communication from 2015–2017. I had been really attracted to the described coursework and hopeful that I might be able to make myself a really unique prospect for a social media job in book publishing. Instead, I discovered a hidden passion for the theory and research, graduating with the intent to apply for PhD programs after a year in the real world.
I still didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do or what would make me the most happy, but I was open for anything. I wanted to be snapped up by someone who saw my potential and wanted to make me their mentee.
As someone who was always a strong student, I didn’t spare a lot of thought thinking about what was a realistic career path for me. All I ever cared about while I was a student were my grades and impressing my instructors. A part of me knew that I ought to have been thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life while I was in college, but I was overly idealistic (hello). I felt like finding a job was entirely a matter of luck, presenting myself as a good worker and smart person would make it easier for the right job to fall into my lap.
Originally I would’ve loved to work in publishing; it’s why I started book blogging in 2015. But over the years I’ve come to my senses about the reality of publishing and decided it wasn’t for me. Nowadays I would love to see myself writing for a living, whether that be as an original content creator or some sort of digital publication. I could also see myself managing some business / company / organization‘s social media and other communication platforms with great pleasure and passion.
You really have to be a good sales person of yourself in order to get your foot in the door most places. If you are someone who takes great pride in work done well and are a fast learner but has trouble being aggressive in competitive environments where you have no contacts and no formal experience. It is exceptionally hard if you lack direction.
So I’ve been flailing.
How I Spent the First Half of 2018
I quit my retail job in January after a busy holiday season in which I worked so many grueling hours and gained extremely sore feet in the process. This job was very physically demanding, so much so that my feet were always in pain and my body always tired. It was also emotionally draining. All I wanted to do when I finished work was sleep, eat, and find comfort in the mind-numbing entertainment of Netflix and YouTube.
What is most devastating is that I was never supposed to be at that retail job for long. I always meant to continue looking for and applying for jobs that befitted a college graduate. But during my sporadic days off, it was hard to do anything that made me feel fulfilled or productive, never mind looking for jobs.
So in January I decided to take a gamble on myself. I felt I needed the pressure of having no money coming in to move me into finding a proper full-time job at long last. It wasn’t the best motivator, considering I was still unbelievably fortunate enough to have my parents’ financial support behind me. But the time has helped me come to terms with reality and the options I never seriously considered before.
It’s also allowed me to work on my own health. My feet are back to normal (can you believe they went down a shoe size?) and exercise has been a regular and enjoyable part of my daily routine. I’ve even been able to tackle my unhealthy relationship with food. I’m feeling more content and in control of my body and its destiny than I have in years.
What I’m Doing Now
So my dad works in the Department of Homeland Security. He never went to proper college. He worked his way up from border patrol and ICE all the way up to the highest level possible for a man of his age and his background. Most recently he received an overseas position in Israel where he’s done well. I’m really proud of him. But from an early age, I knew I never wanted to do what he does.
That’s part of the reason I never seriously considered looking into government jobs, especially as I continued in higher education and became more liberal-minded. The Peace Corps is the closet thing I ever imagined myself doing related to government work.
So imagine my surprise when I made an account for USA Jobs and found that there are actually some really amazing job opportunities that fall under the umbrella of the U.S. government. Jobs that take into account educational achievement alongside work experience. Jobs that are not even specifically to do with immigration.
I’ve bookmarked several positions that I’ve found using the job board database, taking into account the requirements, qualifications, and locations that best suit me. Every day I find something new based on preferences I can adjust on my profile. It’s not the most user-friendly database, in the sense that it’s not immediately clear to me if it’s possible to exclude positions for which I am not qualified (e.g. engineering, medical…), but it’s been easy to find a way to swiftly navigate all the open listings.
I also intend to look for jobs at U.S. embassies around the world, as apparently (according to my dad) those can be easier to get because they have less applicants. It’s still a dream of mine to visit Europe, Australia, and Asia one day. I can scarcely imagine a better way to get overseas than to be able to go specifically for a job. Even if it’s temporary position, I’d be willing to do it for the opportunity to travel.
I don’t know how long it will take for my applications to get noticed or receive enough interest to result in interviews, so in the meantime I’m also applying to some local part-time jobs for the city where I live. I already have an interview for a recreational center position. I’m also still investigating opportunities to teach overseas. I get a lot of satisfaction in helping others, so teaching people who want to learn (in any capacity) still feels like something I would love to do.
❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧
I’m aware I previously said I wanted to make my job search into a series of posts, but I’ve been inspired by the way Czarina @ The Blacksheep Reader integrated her job search updates into her Weekend Reads posts. I’ll try to keep you all updated each week with a short summary covering places I’ve applied and interviews as they come.
Do you have your dream job?
Do you have any tips for first-time job seekers?