Life is Busting out ALL Over!

Unemployment

Posted on: November 10, 2008

I am currently starting month 3 of unemployment. I prefer to reference it as “Looking for the best fit” thereby taking the power from those who hire and giving it back to me. But it is what it is and I still am looking for a  job.

This is not the first time I’ve been unemployed. My senior year of college, after a very INTENSE 3 day long interview (with spies everywhere!), I was chosen hired as a Chapter Consultant for my International (Canada, counts) sorority. It was spring of 2000, and while my classmates in my major were experiencing the joys of the dot.com boom and everyone who wanted a job got 4 thrown at them, I turned my back on it (foreshadowing the rest of my life) and took a stipend below poverty level paying, thrown out to the wolves, 20 hour work days, on the road for 40 days before my next break, making friends with strangers and after 4 days doing it all over again job. The stories I can tell would blow your mind, although sadly it’s not the partying kind of stories – even though I was 21 and 22 I could not drink while I was working (role model and all), they are the stories that make you think, “What kind of self respecting person would choose this for themselves and how the heck did you do it?” I look back at the experience and wonder how I did it as well and I’d tell you I’d do it all over again, but not twice in a row.

But that job is not the point of the post although I could probably extract a ton of posts out of that year. I was hired on a contract. And my contract ended when the typical college school year ended. I completed wrap-up training, headed down to Atlanta with the other 4 women who were hired along with me and to this day are my best friends for sort of a last hurrah, and was back in this very house, in suburban Chicago by May.

The job market I returned to was very different than the one that had greeted us college graduates the year before. The dot com boom was a bust, money was being lost, and the word recession was actually being used and not whispered. Now, had I known what I know now, I would have just gotten some random job, lived at home, and studied for my GREs so I could apply to grad schools then instead of waiting 6 more years to do what I knew in my heart I was most interested in. But instead I had two factors influencing me. One, was that I was a college graduate and felt like I owed it to my family, who supported me not only in my choices in college but also my choice to go off the map for a year, and get a job that had something to do with my degree. The second thing that influenced me was the call of the city. Most of my good friends, from home and school, had moved to Chicago and started living an ‘adult’ life while I was flying across this country with only two suitcases to my name. Their stories of how great it was and how fun it was kept me going during my year on the road but made me want to be right there with them.

So the stage was set for me, I needed to find a job in advertising/pr/marketing.  Now funny things happen when the economy goes south. Most companies trim their budgets, the first to go is usually their ad or marketing budget. The agencies which are hired by these companies watch as their contracts are lost or cut, and they have to do the same in their budget. Employees are let go and they are certainly are not looking to hire new ones. Those agencies? Yeah, pretty much the only outlet in which I was qualified. I sent out easily 100 resumes to jobs, jobs beyond the agencies, jobs I was not qualified for but made a case for it. I heard NOTHING. Not even one phone call to interview. Then, in mid-summer, one of my friends invited me to go with her to our sorority’s alumni dinner in Chicago. I was reluctant, I had spent such an intense year working for our sorority, I just wanted to back off of it for a little while. My friend was a personal banker at the time and thought it would be good for networking. She promised we’d go out for drinks after so I agreed to go. As soon as I was introduced at the dinner, I became a dog and pony show, they all knew who I was from announcements in the magazine and so forth and so I was peppered with questions all night long. My worst nightmare. Then, at the end of the evening, I started speaking to a woman sitting next to me. She worked for a marketing agency, slightly different than what I had studied in school but she told me it did not matter. She was looking for an assistant and asked me to send her resume. So I did. Nearly a month later, we were sharing an office. My unemployment lasted almost 4 months. I was unemployed no longer and 2 months after that, I officially began living my own “adult” life in the city.

7 years and one master’s degree later, I am here. Back in this house, unemployed. The economy is so far south it’s freezing its’ ass off in Antartica and the very industry in which my degree qualifies me for, higher education, is now losing money in endowments and subject to hiring freezes. My timing has never been a my strength, eh?

I am one of the two people in my program who still do not have a job. I get calls from my grad school friends, loving calls but calls in which the underlying emotion is: “What are you doing? Aren’t you freaking out? I would sooooo be freaking out right now! I’m so glad I got my job when I did.” Granted they are all a lot younger than I, but I can tell that my ease with my situation puts them at ease too, and might make them a little uneasy when they think of how they would handle the same thing.

Being unemployed is not fun. I’m not on vacation. I don’t think about how much easier this would all be if I had just gone to grad school earlier in my life, that’s too easy, to live in regret. This is not the point at which I thought I would ever get to. (And that’s always a backhanded compliment to hear: “Out of all of us, I never thought you’d be the one without a job”) I don’t dwell on the fact that I’m 30 and living at home with my parents because those are just facts, and facts do not define me. Frankly, I’m increasingly grateful for this opportunity I’m living now. I have been able to get to know my parents in a deeper way than my childhood and teenage years allowed. I understand them now, as people, and most importantly, they really understand me. I know decades from now, when they are no longer with us, I will be so thankful for this time and the opportunity I had to live, share and laugh with them, as we currently do.

I’ve had a lot of interviews since I’ve been here, some jobs I would have been okay with having, some I just wanted so I’d have a job, but my heart was not in it. There was one position, where I thought my heart was, and I was a finalist. I got the call last week that I was their second choice. I was disappointed but I know that I’m getting closer. Two days later I got a call to interview for a position in which I couldn’t write a better job description for what I want.

It will happen, I know it is going to happen. I’ve just crossed the 3 month mark and if history is any indication, it will happen sooner than I think. And if it doesn’t? Well, I just continue to appreciate this time I do have and continue on. Because eventually… I know it will.

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Synopsis

musings and panic attacks of a Chicago girl embarking on a new life in Texas. Only it's not always June and it's not in song.

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