it is weird to think that a month ago i was living in new york city obsessing over not having a job and unsure of how to even start. while i knew that i didn’t know everything about the field of social work and how to evolve into a community activist, i didn’t realize that i didn’t know how to get a job.
i guess i should start off by apologizing for my annoying and pest-y personality and more importantly, begin by thanking the countless number of classmates, colleagues, professionals, and strangers that not only put up with my endless amounts of questions, but also went out of their way to help me. because trust me, i needed help, even if it was only reassurance that i would one day get a job, a boost of confidence after an interview, or just the motivation to start. you see, school taught me a lot of things about myself, how to study for an exam, and different ways to help people…but it didn’t really teach me how the real world works. and so, after graduating from school, i started a new program called ‘not school.’ and so hear i am again, learning. learning how to pick the best insurance program, file my taxes correctly, and develop my own therapeutic style. i am learning how to not be a student while still taking in and discovering new information on a daily basis. i guess that is life, right?
what i learned was that for me, starting my career, and searching for that first place of employment wasn’t so much hard as it was scary. i got so caught up in taking the “right” path, that i forgot that i could create my own. without boring you with all of the details of my two month (panicky) search for employment (it includes updating, editing, and improving resumes, cover letters, and interviewing skills, following-up until being borderline annoying, and taking risks), i will tell you that i was able to cross off number fifteen.
it is funny to me that the lessons i learned about applying for a job were actually lessons about how to be successful in living. one of my 24 goals for the year was to find not only a job, but a way to pursue my passion, fulfill my personal goals, and work to have a positive, meaningful, and lasting impact on the people i have the opportunity to work with. i’ve made one step in the right direction. and sometimes the first step can be the most important. and sometimes it can be the hardest. today was meaningful because i got a job. because i got to cross a number off of my birthday list, because i get to start working on that second step.
in case you are applying for a job. or want a new job, or are scared to quit your current job for what you love. or maybe it is not about a job at all, maybe you want to do something different with your life, or improve your life. or even just make a small change. maybe you just want something to read.
regardless, here is what i learned:
1. ask people who are better than you. who know more than you. who have done it before and succeeded. who have done it before and failed. but do more than take or consider their advice, make it your own. while i believe it is helpful to hear about what worked for other people, most importantly, i think you have to find a way to make it work for you.
2. you have so much to learn, and there is so much more that you could be. failure and rejection are good things. to be honest, i still don’t like either (i can’t imagine that many people do), but it is all about perspective. my absolute dream job is still out there, but i am glad i didn’t get it yet. i have room to grow. i hope to never become my best self or even be the best. while i most definitely want to succeed and even excel, i hope to always be getting better and have room to improve.
3. you are not somebody else’s story. over the last few years i have worked hard to learn how to avoid comparing myself to others, but it is something i work on often. i think everyone needs to find their way, in their own way. to be clear, i took and followed a lot of advice. all of it was so incredibly helpful and appreciated. but it was also easy to get discouraged and disappointed when it seemed like everyone else around me was getting hired or having their lives fall into place. but that isn’t what it is about. be happy for their successes-genuinally happy- and get motivated to create your own. i’ve learned that comparing myself to others makes me forget that i’m on my own journey and typically has the effect of making me feel inadequate or lessens my happiness. libraries wouldn’t be as wonderful as they are if they were all filled with the same books. write your own.
4. i think people are nice. i also think people are generally willing to help if they know how to–and if you let them. so let them. i facebook messaged all of the people i went to school with and asked for advice or suggestions, i asked people to edit my resume, read my cover letter. i emailed my old supervisors and mentors and asked how they did it. i emailed strangers, threw myself out on a limb and was honest and specific about what i am passionate about and hope to accomplish. i asked people to help me. and they did.
5. i don’t know how many times i have had to respond with “yeah, i know i won’t be making a lot of money, but i sure will be happy.” sometimes it is a justification and other times it is an explanation. but mostly, it is just true. the truth is, i would choose to do this on a daily basis for free. because i think people matter. and i think how we treat people matters too. success can mean different things for different people, and for me, it has never been defined by having a big paycheck. i know plenty of wonderful people who do define success by their level of income, and that is completely, absolutely, fine. what matters it that you picked it. i get to wake up every morning excited about what i am going to do next and i like that. do what you love. love what you do.
6. i only applied for the jobs i really wanted to have that way i wouldn’t be disappointed if i got one and not the other. i was qualified for some, and others weren’t even hiring, but i submitted my resume everyone anyway. i never knew if being selective was a good thing or not, but it ended up that i got exactly that kind of job i was looking for. you don’t have to take every opportunity, and you should know that there is a way to get to where you want to be. but the only way to get there is to start. and now is always the best time.
7. don’t be afraid to take risks or try something new. you only get this life.