I was excited to graduate from college. I’d put in a ton of work and had earned about every form of honors possible. I received university honors for keeping up a high GPA, taking special honors classes, and doing experiential learning. I earned honors in BOTH of my majors by writing an honors thesis that was over seventy pages long. And I was awarded entrance into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s most prestigious honors society due to all the work I’ve done. I felt great; a little sad to leave my friends, but ultimately excited for my future. And then it all fell to shit.
Initially I was all set up to go to grad school this fall. I was planning on attending the #1 school in the country for library science to work on earning masters. Unfortunately I didn’t get funding despite being assured that I most likely would when I accepted my admission (the whole reason I accepted at the time). I applied for so many assistance-ships, but I got nothing. And with tuition + cost of living = over $50,000 a year, I simply couldn’t afford not to have funding. So after a lot of crying, I decided to put off furthering my formal education.
The decision was hard, but I by no means regret it. Getting $100,000+ in debt for a job that really doesn’t pay all that much just didn’t seem like a good idea. On top of that, the current administration is trying abolish the public service loan forgiveness program and hoping to change how taxes work around academic tuition, so it’s about to get even more expensive to get a masters or PhD.
With that decision, I joined all the other college graduates trying to find full-time employment…only I’m a few months later to the party than they were. In theory, I feel like I’m a great hire. I clearly learn well, and I’ve been working since I was sixteen. Plus I’m personable, dedicated, and creative.
I wasn’t surprised to get my first few job application rejections. Rarely do people find their first professional job right away. But as the months have gone on and my (metaphorical) stack of rejection emails has grown taller, I’m losing heart. I know, I know–this all takes time. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to be continually turned down for jobs. The sting is even stronger when the posting didn’t require any experience or even a college degree. It’s hard every time not to ask, “what’s wrong with me?”
Logically I know it’s not just about me. You and the employer have to mesh. Maybe someone else just has more experience. Maybe the timing isn’t right. Who knows? It could be anything on an endless list of reasons. I know that. But, friends, I’m tired. I’m so ready to be done job hunting. I’m ready to leave my temp-job where I answer phones all day and get yelled at about things I can’t change. I’m excited for my minimum student loan payments not to take half of my month’s income anymore. I want certainty.
All of this rejection and uncertainty has often led me to feel like a total failure; like going to college, working, and all the extra things I did weren’t worth it. Again, I know that’s not true, but those evil little monsters in my head sure do try hard to make me believe it. For someone who was so successful and ambitious in the world of academia, not being able to translate my skills and experience into the professional realm is bringing a lot of internalized shame that I need to deal with.
In the mean time, I’m working on reevaluating what I want my life to look like–what I need in my life to be happy and what is a bit more flexible. Maybe I need to be a bit more creative in my job search. Maybe I shouldn’t limit myself to my rural state of Iowa. I don’t know, but I’m ready to know what’s next.