In a week, I will have been looking for a job for six months. I remember looking at schools and the exhausting process of applying for college: writing essays, fighting with my mom about edits, overnights, even flying to a hippy school in California and back to Maryland in the same day. Busy asking questions about study abroad programs, required courses, and class sizes, finding a job really never crossed my mind. Now most of us have found ourselves asking the inevitable: what the hell are we going to do next year? And more importantly, who’s going to pay for it?
For the past four years, we have had it pretty easy. We have people to cook our food, clean our bathrooms, and Security to tell us when we have had too much to drink. For the most part, our worries have been minimal: trying to get A’s, make it to all of our classes, and deciding what to do on the weekends.
For the past four months, I have spent endless hours in the library not working on anything school-related, but on cover letters, emails and job applications. I have probably talked to at least a quarter million people who attended Bates College in search of advice and opportunities, yet still I find myself without an answer to the inevitable.
What I love most about finding a job is how companies think that you have all the time in the world. Many forget that I am still a student enrolled at a demanding liberal arts school trying to balance my academic and social life.
Two nights before I planned to drive to Boston for an interview, I received an email from the company with an invitation for an information session at their office the next day. With 24 hours notice to find a way to get to Boston early, find somewhere to stay, and figure out how to explain to my professors that I would miss class for the third or fourth time that semester, I scrambled to make it work.
The next afternoon, I rushed from my thesis meeting to get to Portland to catch the 4:30 bus. 4:25, 4:26, I still had four more exits. I began to panic. I sped into the parking lot of the bus station, looking in my rearview mirror to make sure that I had not hit any innocent bystanders on the way in. I parked, grabbed my suit hanging in the back, slammed the door, and sprinted to the buses. I had just missed it by a minute.
Furious and feeling defeated, I grabbed two bags of the free pretzels that they hand out, and moseyed over to the waiting room to wait two hours for the next bus. I ended up making it to the last 20 minutes of the event, making sure to snipe a few chocolate chip cookies and cheese and crackers from the buffet table to put me at ease. I never know where to draw the line with snacks when interviewing. They always announce that they have so much food and demand that you to take what you want, but is it really professional to take a plate of cookies for the road or to get chocolate in the middle of your two front teeth in the middle of a conversation with a potential employer? Maybe that explains why I do not have a job.
By the way, although the company said I would hear in two weeks, Human Resources did not even dare to bother to call me or even email me the bad news. Seven weeks later, I finally called them to hear the news for myself. I would like to think that after making two trips to Boston and speaking with alumni at the firm, that they would have the decency to just tell me.
I can safely say that I have checked off all of the possible things that could go wrong in the process. The list could go on forever: I have been told that I have lipstick on my teeth, have had my car battery die on the way to Boston for an interview, been asked by a bus driver on the microphone to get off of the phone because of bus policy while talking to an alumni, gone to New York and back in one day (missing Newman Day and the puddle jump mind you), ripped my panty hose (yes, I have to wear them) during a super day, tripped on my own feet in my heels when merely standing and talking to an alumni, knocking my glass of wine onto myself, and spent two weeks on a stock pitch for a job that I did not get.
A lot of my friends say just wait or tell me that I am killing myself over this, but I decided back in August that I would do everything that I could to get what I wanted so here I am. The numbers have started to look bleak: 100 calls or meetings with alumni, more than a dozen interviews, at least fifty job applications, and plenty of “We regret to inform you” emails, but after a few pity parties and many news articles about the plummeting job market, I look around and find many people in the same position.
According to an article in
The Huffington Post, one in two college graduates are jobless or unemployed. On top of that, median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees have declined since 2000 and the majority of future job opportunities will likely be in lower-skilled positions. Nearly 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or unemployed, the highest share in 11 years.
Before every interview, after double-checking my make-up and hair in the bathroom, I repeat that quote from
The Help, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” I hope that one of my seven crazy roommates finds a job soon, and I constantly picture the day when this miserable never-ending process will come to a close for all of us. Until then, we have to carry on.