Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Failure to Launch...

"whaaaat! you mean after 4 years of college, plus that other two years of college, 51.75 credits, 1320 hours of labor (just from berea), 55 convocations, 5 clubs, 4 honor societies, 1 city commission, 3 university governance committees, and 2 student government assemblies ya'll are just going to hand me this degree? uh oh! somebody must have slipped up! ...lOl." ...but seriously, even though it took me 12 years to graduate i'm incredibly grateful for the education that i received at Berea College, Ecosa Institute and Michigan State University - SPARTANS. Thank you so much to the three of these institutions for the valuable education as well as the degree! : )

That's right.... THIS girl FINALLY graduated from College! = )

Now that I've had a good month or so to recharge and eradicate some of those end of the semester college behaviors: (e.g. frantic work-a-holism, untidy living space, and diet of processed foods, etc.) I have begun to work upon taking the next toward finding work. I lucked out and happen to be in a unique position where I am house-sitting for some administrators on sabbatical, which gives me the freedom to sort out and list my expectations for the next step in life. And it's been good. I know that had I rushed to try and find a job during the hectic time we're all faced at by the end of senior year; it would just have been a disaster. But we'll get into that some other time.  It occurred to me that since there seemed to be a recent trend of graduates who were having difficulty finding employment, and all of the websites I consulted about freelance work for public relations professionals suggested that I blog what I'm an expert about, I thought that I'd blog about this.  You want to know what it's like for a recent college graduate to find work, then I thought I'd just give a few highlights of how my own personal journey works out, complete with implementation strategies for job seeking and so on...

I'll try to include little tidbits about my background as well, so you can see how that may or may not impact my capacity to find, or create work.  Hopefully, now that I no longer have a boyfriend to invest all my time writing "Dear John" letters to, I will be able to remain consistent with it.  But enough about that.

Are you intrigued yet?  You should be.

There's a lot of info embedded into my personal story that may or may not leak out, which you may find utterly captivating.  But I didn't want to provide too much info too soon because I want you to take me seriously.  Is it weird that this is where the beginning ends up?  Didn't we all go to college so that we could finally be taken seriously?  I was kind of a late bloomer and didn't realize until it was too late that I was walking out of one form of institutionalization into another form, when all I really wanted to do was develop technical proficiency and learn to replicate work that I found inspiring and innovate.  But sometimes life can have other plans...

Anyhoo, enough of my cryptic rants.

I spent day 1 of the "actively seeking employment" process trying to identify jobs within walking distance of where I live.  I don't have a car and in order to save up for a car I'd need some source of income.  I applied to work at the college since I'm still in the town where I went to school, but I received that crushing email a couple of days ago telling me that the position had been filled.  I looked on the staff vacancies page in order to see if I could find another position that would fit my desire to learn as I work and meet the requirements I would need to have some kind of a respectable work/life balance.  I noticed that the site had a vacancy posted that was similar to what I'd applied for; administrative assistant position.  But after I read the position for the evening coordinator position I realized that I was probably less suited for this position because the night shift required that I have pool maintenance experience, which admittedly I just don't have.

It was very tragic.  : )  I was really looking forward to getting that job.  Event planning, coordinating logistics, keeping detailed spreadsheets of budgets, integrating new task management software, and cloud sourcing the student scheduling were all areas that I would have been proficient in.  I also had much higher administrative skills assessment scores than most of the other applicants.  In fact I was told that I was 1 of only 5 applicants out of the broad number who applied to be interviewed, so although I was crushed not to get the coveted 8-5 office position, I certainly could not take the rejection personally.  As incredible as my resume was and how smoothly the interview went; I knew half of the interviewers and had done some exceptional work with them before, and I had prior experience in public relations, marketing and sales as well as working for an athletic facility.  So I understood that if they didn't select me for the position, it wouldn't be because I wasn't qualified to perform the job, it was because someone else who applied the position must have blown them away. 

After receiving the email informing me that I didn't get the position, I contemplated whether it would be prudent to reapply for the evening position.  This was partly because the realistic part of me worried that they might question my judgment, but the optimistic part of me wanted to believe that I might just be able to convince them that I had such a strong work ethic and commitment toward good sportsmanship and my work ethic that I could objectively put the prior rejection aside.  And either way I was prepared to sell myself as a person of strong moral character.  I was going to have to be really sincere about it.  Oddly enough, the dis qualifiers in the second listing kind of came as a relief.  I was in the process of working out whether I would genuinely be able to set the prior oversight aside and after much prayer I rationalized the hell out of going for it again.  I've since rationalized that I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity not to potentially make an ass out of myself, even though I am just slightly bummed I didn't get a chance to go for the position again.      

"Fall down seven times, get up eight"

~Japanese Proverb

So after a dear friend of mine and beloved barista talked me out of applying as a bus boy position just to have some revenue coming in, stating; "it will suffocate your soul..." I checked my bank balance to make sure that I had enough savings to cover my bills for the upcoming month (approx. $60 in utilities and $30 for a pre-paid phone bill).   Then I spent today going through the local chamber of commerce directory to see which jobs might have the kind of work experience I might be interested in, if I were working as a co op or externship so that I could modify and customize my cover letters.  I also bookmarked the Americorp site in case any of these potential employers might be persuaded to create an americorp position if they like my work and want to keep me around at minimal risk.  I mean I really don't need much to live, at least until the fall anyway.  I have veggies growing in the garden and I am a phenomenal shoe-string foodie and cook; perhaps I'll post pics of some of my summer meals later.  I just need enough to sustain my Ale 8 habit and occasionally buy medication which costs me $40 a month.

Ideally I'd like to be able to save up enough to pay back my student loans or pay a deposit and traveling expenses if it turns out that at some point I need to leave.  But that's it.  My clothes, although professional come from clothing swaps and thrift stores.  With my medication I'm no longer allowed to drink beer (I know, sad day).  So right now, I live simply enough that don't really need all that much. 

But unfortunately because I haven't really set any standards for what I want to aspire toward, aside the whole work/life balance thing, I have way too many options and also NO options.  If I'm willing to relocate, the world becomes my oyster.  But I must admit that after spending 4 years running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and spreading myself thin, running clubs, carrying study groups, supervising students, and eeking out innovative and cutting edge research and design projects, I am having to relearn how to function without the college... I am learning how to chart a course without an already established list of responsibilities or predetermined roles.  I have been trained to be a worker, to follow orders, to strategically plan and carry out functions, but I have not been taught how to find the kind of jobs that are going to value what I have to offer, which kind of freaks me out.  What am I, if not a work horse?

I spent the first month after graduation just trying to figure that out.  I learned a lot during that process of emptying myself of all of those preconceived notions of what others think I should be.  But what I realized afterward, is that as much as I enjoyed taking that much needed break, I knew that I needed to have a stronger understanding of that so I would know how to sell myself to take on my new roles.  But what is my new role?  And this is where the job search comes in...

One of the two major things that I'd been doing to pass the time here is that I started the ONE service project I am giving myself permission to take on.  It's called called the Yellow Ribbon Project that I'm using as a research platform to develop a self help resource guide for vets.

I'm using this project to learn more about social media marketing strategy so that I can learn how to build an effective brand. I have other reasons for doing it, which I find to be more important, but I don't know that I'm ready to discuss those reasons here... well at least not just yet.  ; )

Interestingly enough, this project has taught me some really valuable principles that I hope will prove helpful during my job search.  The first little helpful bit of advice that really resonated from my work online was this:

|  Job search tip no. 1 comes from Simon Chan: "DON'T BE A PERFECTIONIST - Don't let the quest for Perfection lead to inactivity. Just Do It and the lessons you learn from your mistakes will allow you to make the next version way better than if you sat there trying to make it perfect the first time... " - Simon Chan


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