Well That Escalated Quickly

As you may recall, I had to move out of my parents’ house last week. Thankfully I had requested the week off of my part-time elections job, because last week was bonkers. Before I start explaining why, it might be important to note that the Saturday before I had spent the whole day applying for UT Austin jobs. It took me all day because I was tailoring all my cover letters to each specific job based on the information I was provided about the job listings. You know, as is typically recommended.

As silly as I know it sounds, I have tried to avoid applying for jobs that require a cover letter in the past. It always seemed like a lot of work to me when I have hoped my resume might speak for itself. Honestly, I could kick myself for being so clueless. In total I have already received three interview requests thus far from just the ten applications I completed last weekend.

I had the first two this week, one on Thursday and one on Friday. Thankfully they were both offered virtually! I was able to complete them in between work (at my tutoring gig), packing and moving boxes, and cleaning out my parents’ house. I only got good vibes from the first one, but I know from experience that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The third interview I have is scheduled for Wednesday, August 14th.

However, I also received word on Thursday morning that I have finally been offered the temporary part-time Office Assistant position which I applied for in April. It’s not official yet; they still for need me to take a drug test (which I have nothing to worry about, for the record). But I had already been debating whether I would take this position or not after learning in June that I would only be allowed to work about 25 hours a week.

Yes, there is a possibility it could become a full-time position after six months, but how can I know if I would really be happy there long-term? It’s in a criminal justice-type department, so they’re likely to be really serious and strict in the way I’ve not enjoyed at the elections office. They’ve not told me exactly what I’d be doing since I had the interview, if they did at all. I cannot remember much of the interview since I wasn’t too optimistic about my odds and did not think about it much afterward.

Now here’s where things start to get complicated. As the Fall 2019 semester is about to start, there are not many good options for apartments in Austin available anymore. I feel like the options are only going to continue to get worse, so I have been considering accepting the part-time job and keeping my fingers crossed that a full-time one will come through in the next couple of weeks. But if one doesn’t, I’ll need another part-time job to supplement my income if I am going to uproot myself from the two part-time jobs I still currently hold.

With that in mind, I applied to a writing tutor position at a community college nearby yesterday. It did not require a cover letter, but since I have gotten the hang of writing them I wrote something and I got a call a couple hours later! I now have an interview lined up for Wednesday, assuming that I am able to find out if the hours as an Office Assistant would be flexible enough to allow me to also work about 15–19 hours somewhere else.

I also realized as a consequence of needing to go to Austin so quickly, I would not have much time to do a proper final two weeks at either job. Thankfully, my presence at these two places is not absolutely essential. There is still enough time to find a replacement before things start to get busy this fall. But if I am going to need my supervisors’ references, I might run into a little bit of trouble. I have a feeling both will be understanding based on how well I’ve gotten to know them. I hate that I’m leaving them both so soon, but I need a full-time job and even if one is not immediately on the horizon just yet I will now be living where I want to finally start my life.

I know that I am moving to Austin this month no matter what, but it’s hard to look for apartments when you’re three hours away and do not know how much income you will have for living expenses. The common sense thing is to rent somewhere cheap, but most leases want you to commit for close to a year and I would rather move into a place that I know I would be happy living for at least a couple of years. I am ready to start making a place a home of my own.

So here are a few things that will be happening over the next week as I prepare to start a new job in Austin at the earliest around August 15th.

  1. Turn in resignation letters to both of my job and complete some courtesy hours. I already submitted my resignation to the elections job, which is a job I hope I don’t need to keep working past this week since it’s now so far away and pays so little. At the writing tutor gig my supervisor is on vacation, so I hope he is able to check his email. Ideally I would like to work as much as possible this week at this job so I have one more really good paycheck to help me with my first month’s rent.
  2. Finish fixing my car. I had to have my brakes fixed this weekend, because they were in really bad shape. I was also told I’d need to have four-wheel alignment and a CV axel (?) either fixed or replaced really soon or my tires might be in trouble…? The service repairman explained it all, but I am not good with cars so the technical talk went a little over my head! But I have worried about my car giving out on me, so I’ll pay for these things for the peace of mind.
  3. Ask about hours at Office Assistant job on Monday. The person I am potentially interviewing with Wednesday has requested I find out what kind of hours I would be available to tutor.
  4. Complete drug testing. That shouldn’t take long, but it needs to be done Monday as well so the processing is completed quickly and I am able to start that part-time job August 15th.
  5. Look for an apartment! Once again, I am not sure what my budget could allow, but I do feel I find something right now so that I am not in a bind mid-August and worrying about a place to live on top of starting a new job.
  6. Apply for more full-time jobs. There have been a few more listings pop up on the UT Austin job board and it might be a good idea to apply to a few more in case nothing I’ve already interviewed for comes through. I can also start to look for specific companies based in Austin that might have full-time openings right now as well.

My mind is still blown by all these developments this week. If I hadn’t been forced to move out of my parents house this week, I may not have considered gambling with my current job situation and used the time I can live with my aunt and uncle to save. But I can’t help but feel this is the right move. I am so ready to live on my own and officially start my professional life. Moving is not fun, so I feel like if I can avoid unpacking right now just to pack up again in a month or two it will be worth it.

End Note

I will continue to work the blog this month whenever I can! I’ve been doing some blog maintenance while I think about what I want to produce. I hope I’ll be able to breathe new life into this blog this month. If you poke around, you may discover a few changes I’ve already made and make guesses as to where my blog focus will be once I am able to properly jump back into it next month if not sooner.

Thank you for reading!
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I Am An English Major Looking For Work

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?

Thank you for reading!
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