So, it has been a couple of days since I graduated, and entered the job market. The last time I found myself drowning in the sea of rejection, over-blown egotism and scam artists was a few years ago, before I graduated from community college and the university that I, up until very recently, attended without fail for 5 years. During that time, I elected to not be employed and focus on my grades, and building the skills necessary to move on to graduate school. I also took one year off from college -- partly because I wanted to try to get into law school (which I succeeded, but because I did terribly on the LSAT, I got no funding and cannot afford it), but that fell through -- and partly because I think it is necessary to take a year off and find out what Grad programs align with my research interests (sociology of law, globalism, and political economy roughly). During this time that I am starting in my life, I also wanted to hone some employable skills so and accrue some fresh employment/volunteer experience.
In short, it has been a long time since I was in the job market. The last time, without my high and mighty degrees, I found myself drowning in a sea of despair. I had just dropped out of college, I had a pile of debt and 48 credit hours to show for it, and no recent job experience. This was during 2010, and the job market in Salem, Oregon back then, was quite frankly, shit.
Day in and day out, I applied for hundreds of jobs and had only a handful of calls, and maybe 2 or 3 interviews to show for it.
There is a certain breaking down of someone's soul that is associated with being rejected literally hundreds of times over the course of 4 or 5 months. It is heart breaking, crushing, and confusing all at the same time. Feelings of inadequacy and helplessness rush through you from time to time -- and knowing that your spouse is the only thing that is preventing you from being on the street is even worse. I wasn't working for lack of trying, I spent tons of time looking for work, honing my resume, up-selling myself. I remember perusing craigslist for hours and desperately waiting by my land line for one call, any call. It was maddening.
I only mention this because it serves as a backdrop for my feelings of anxiety and trepidation going into the job market this time. I have had nightmares about this moment in my life for 3 years, ever since that summer that I desperately looked for work. I buried it in my studies -- the frantic drive to meet deadline, the late nights reading a book, the 1 o'clock political science cram sessions -- but somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that I would have to face those feelings, and what I consider a personal failure to find a job.
And now, here I am. I'll be honest, that whole "Wait and align my research interests" is just a cover, I failed the LSATs, I tanked miserably. I thought I was going to go to law school, I have a 3.8 GPA, I studied for hours on the LSAT. I was testing in the mid 155s. I got a 143, and it crushed my dreams. Luckily, after that, I took a few more law classes (offered as poli sci courses at my university) and decided that law school was not right for me. Unfortunately, I missed a lot of critical deadlines for sociology grad programs in my futile quest to fulfill a childhood dream and become a lawyer. I realize now that I would have needed a year anyway, to really develop my grad school app to get more funding, but still I can't help but feel I am retrofitting an excuse to cover my failure.
In the meantime, I must find a way to make money, which means finding a job. I have applied for many so far, and what I have found in the job market (at least online) here in Salem is absolutely appalling. Scam artists fill job listing websites, waiting to get your information and start spamming you, not to mention waste your time and get your hopes up about a potential job. There are "commission only" jobs that sound sort of like pyramid schemes that an unemployed person around here has to look out for. Jobs where you have to pay for a bunch of stuff just to start working. There are all sorts of ways an unemployed person can be taken advantage of, especially those of us who have been out of work for a while.
Which leads me to my next point: many, many applications require exorbitant amounts of experience directly in the field for what seem to be entry level positions. There is absolutely no reason to require 2+ years of direct experience in something your own company calls an entry level job! How else to people get experience other than someone gave them a chance and hired them without experience!
And then, there is the rejection. I know, that is life. That is the game we all play. But there is something so personal about being rejected, even if I know it is going to happen. It just hurts, and to hear it and see it day after day after day, it must be...crushing. I sympathize with all of my long term unemployed brothers and sisters out there. I have been there, I have done it, and quite honestly, it is the most dispiriting thing I have ever experienced in my life. Maybe I am just a sheltered 1st worlder who has never experienced true pain, but to me, being rejected that many times was extremely dehumanizing. Now that I find myself in the sea of the labor market once again, I can't help but wonder if I am chasing a shadow, like during the five months of hell in spring-summer 2010.
Or perhaps I am on the verge of a breakthrough.
In the interim...I am broke, I live with my fiancee's parents. I worry that I am once again facing long term unemployment. The stuff that coffee fueled, sweaty stress dreams are made of.
I dunno why I am telling you all this, guess I am just stressed out an need to vent. Thanks for listening.