The Agony of the Job Hunt

I finally feel comfortable enough at my new job–as a communications assistant at the real estate investment company CA Ventures–to write about how my job search after graduation. If you don’t feel like reading further, I’ll sum it up: not fun.

For Rebecca and Danisha.

Before moving to Chicago, before getting a job.

Before getting my first big break, I spent some time working as a barista. I went about eight weeks without being employed though, just looking for any type of work. I’ll admit that I was being picky about the part-time jobs too. I didn’t want to be a server or bartender that had to work late Fridays and Saturdays because I didn’t feel comfortable yet in the city to get home by myself so late at night. However, most of my previous part-time gigs were in food service and I had even less interest in going into retail.

So I scrolled through postings on Craigslist, LinkedIn, Indeed and any other job site to apply for jobs that I was sometimes not even qualified for. A majority of the days, I felt extremely discouraged.

After graduating, I felt like I had a pretty full resume and positive experiences that would help me on the job hunt. But as the summer sweltered on, I had less and less confidence that I had done enough in school. I should have produced more, written more, joined more clubs or made more connections, is all I kept thinking. I wasn’t getting any calls from the places I had applied to or followed up with. I hardly had any interviews.

Finally, Barnes & Noble did call me and hire me for their cafe. Thank goodness because I needed more human interaction. I still spent most mornings on the internet looking for more applications to do and more leads to follow. I needed full-time, fulfilling work for my wallet and my mental health.

Six weeks later, I got a call from CA to come in for an interview. Hooray! It was already September and I was exhausted by the hunt. After my first interview, although I knew it went well, I didn’t think I would get the job. There was still the gnawing feeling that I wasn’t good enough yet for full-time work in communications or media. But they did call back.

Here we are in the new year, and I’m happy to report that my first job is working out well. It’s something different almost everyday, and even though I whined all summer I realize that I got lucky. I landed a job, and in the grander perspective of time, it wasn’t that long after graduation. Some of the work is related to what I did in college, and some of the administrative tasks aren’t. But a job’s a job.

I don’t think there’s a problem feeling discouraged and disappointed during the post-college, job search. I think it’s only a problem when you give up. If you stop searching for a day or even a week, fine. But you can’t give up entirely. Applying to everything helped me. If I could do at least 50 percent of what was being asked on the job listing, I applied. Even if I knew I’d be in a stack of 100 other applicants, I tried, and I’m glad I did. I’m one of the lucky ones.

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