Honorable

My pride and ego are pretty much shot all to hell.

The thought that a woman, who graduated with honors with a degree in a field that is pretty much always hiring, couldn’t find any job after experience and glowing recommendations, boggles my mind.

At least it did 3 months ago.

Now? It’s a daily fact.

So, I branched out beyond teaching. I started looking for public relations or human resource or customer service positions. All of those involve working with people, which is a huge part of being a teacher. Not only do I deal with students, but parents, administrators, other teachers. Lots of interpersonal skills are required, so I thought those jobs would work. Except I didn’t hear anything.

Then came lower level customer service positions such as secretary, administrative assistant, front desk at a hospital, bank teller. I even have 2 years of banking experience. I enjoyed my time as a teller, so I was hoping I could at least do that since I enjoyed it and it has pretty awesome hours.

Nope.

Then came other miscellaneous jobs. Even applied to be an admitting clerk at the hospital, on a rotating shift, which means over night and weekends sometimes. The requirements? High school diploma or GED.

Still haven’t heard anything.

What. The. Fuck.

I try to keep the cursing to a minimum, but I’m done.

My patience is run out and I have no idea where to turn.

I’ve tried places like Target and Barnes and Noble-nothing. Verizon? Nada. Macy’s? Nope.

These are jobs high school drop outs can get. Why can’t I get a job? And nothing against if you didn’t finish high school, but I have a degree from a good university with an accredited program. I received scholarships. I won awards. I was on the dean’s list every semester for my last 2.5 years.

I’m smart. I’m willing to work hard and I know how act in professional settings and deal with adults in an adult way.

My resume has been looked over and looks good. My cover letters have been pretty good. I’ve checked up on applications and if they received my resume.

I’ve done everything I know to do.

And it’s still not good enough. I’m not good enough.

And then my mom comes out with a gem. I love her immensely and my parents understanding has been a god send because if they were on my case, I would be more of a basket case than I already am.

My mom has said that it is honorable to do whatever it takes to have money for your family. To pay bills, put food on the table, and buy the things people need. She said I may have to look at fast food.

I’m not an elitist and I’m not a bitch. But I don’t think I can do that to myself.

It’s terrible, but I can’t. My self esteem probably can’t handle that blow.

And I know I keep talking about self-esteem. But I’ve already lived through a year of depression and hiding and not talking to anyone because I was so incredibly embarrassed about my situation at the time. I gained about 40lbs in a year. I lost pretty much all of my friends and have no idea why Mr. A stuck with me through it all, but he did and I am forever grateful and in love with the man who loves me no matter what. But what am I supposed to tell people if I have to work at McDonalds? How do I come to terms with that? How do I go to all my family holiday functions coming up and answer their questions when my cousins are doctors and work in university labs and are teachers and psychologists and math phd’s and upper level management at various businesses? Mr. A’s family is even worse. Doctors with their own million dollar practices, engineer for a weapons contractor for the US, business owners, pharmaceutical drug reps chemical engineers, university professors. If the girls don’t have a job it’s because they’re moms and stay at home. Kids are not an option.

I’m already getting back into those slippery and harmful habits as it is.

I try to make myself work out every day and stay out of the kitchen and the snacks. I try to stay positive. I read all of your amazing blogs and laugh at your funny stories, cry with your heartbreak, and revel in your accomplishments.

But I don’t know if I can do the “honorable” thing and still face people.

How the hell do I go to any event with my husband at his law school and tell them I’m flipping burgers? What if I wait on them? I’m afraid I would embarrass my husband.

But what do I do? Mr. A said he would support me if I wanted to go back to school and we would just live on loans. But how do I know I wouldn’t be in this same position with even more debt than the law school debt we already are developing.

Or do I suck it up? Work with high school kids just so I have a paycheck?

I don’t know how to make this decision or how to handle any of this anymore. I feel like I’m reaching my breaking point everyday no one calls me for an interview or anything. These apartment walls are closing in and I can’t seem to find a way out. One things for sure, I will never be a stay at home mom. I never again want to feel stuck. More power to the women who do it. I envy you.

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26 Comments

Filed under Freak Out Much?, Life After College, What to do?

26 responses to “Honorable

  1. Meredith

    Firstly: Take a deep breath and calm the hell down. Now do that again. And one more time for good measure.

    Second: I had these exact same thoughts when I graduated and didn’t have a job. You feel like a failure even though everything you have done so far in your life points to the contrary. It’s a hard place to be and a sucky place to be. When I got to this point, I went to temp agencies. Though there are drawbacks, there are also a lot of perks. 1) it’s work 2) you get paid 3) it’s experience. If you can’t find a full time position, I strongly reccommend temp-ing. Though make sure you do some due diligence before you choose an agency as some are kind of shady.

    Also, if you simply want to get out of the house, volunteer. It’s good for the soul and your sanity.

    The best thing you can do is keep reminding yourself that you are employable; you have good skills, you’re smart, you are not a failure and you, as a person, are not defined by your job or your current life situation.

    • Thank you. This is just a situation I never thought I would be in. I have days where I’m fine and know whatever the job, it won’t define me, but then there are others and I see my friends getting big jobs (other fields) and I just want to curl into a ball. Thank you for your support. I truly appreciate it and need it right now.

  2. I am so sorry you are going through this!! And I know it doesn’t HELP, but remember that you are one of MILLIONS of Americans who are in the same boat right now.

    That’s why I can say with 100% confidence that this is NOT YOUR FAULT. You are smart and talented. You are just looking for work in one of the worst economic situations our country has ever faced.

    I know it’s practically impossible NOT to feel dejected and rejected. I would feel the same way you do in your situation. But I will tell you – as often as you need to hear – that this is not your fault. It’s not about you. You are an excellent candidate. You are just going up against millions of other excellent candidates for the same limited number of jobs.

    If you do end up flipping burgers – which I agree is a perfectly honorable thing to do – you just shrug and tell people you’re doing some odd jobs while you’re looking for a more permanent position. And then change the subject. Because it’s no one’s business how you keep your sanity during this trying time, or how you put food on the table.

    And keep putting out resumes and cover letters. Even if it sucks. Even if it seems hopeless. You will catch the eye of some hiring manager somewhere.

    Hang in there dearie. I’m pulling for you.

    • Thank you. I know it’s not me, but it still sucks. I’ve stayed relatively positive for the most part, but some days I can’t take it. I can’t face people. I know it is more honorable to do whatever to provide for us than pass up jobs because I’m embarrassed. Thank you for your support. It really does help right now.

  3. Oh sweetheart! I completely understand where you are. I panicked through a summer after college like this. Wound up in grad school, and found my dream job at the end. But my sweet husband wasn’t so lucky. He was unemployed for about a year, including the first six months of our marriage. I just want you to know that something good is coming your way! I’m crossing my fingers and praying for you. You will get there! And you will be happy, and blessed! 🙂

    • I think I feel so terrible because we just got married and everything fell apart. He’s having to take out extra loans so we can pay for things and I sit at home all day. School might be an option, but I’m just a little leery after going to school as long as I did, and ending up in the same place. I hate this job market. But thank you for your words and support, it really does help at a time like this.

      • C and I have been discussing the possibility of him returning to school because his degree (marketing) isn’t affording him a lot of options at the moment, and to tell the truth, he was never really in love with it anyway. We’ve had several big discussions on this, so I know just where I stand.

        Here are my thoughts about going back to school: only do it if you have a specific goal in mind. (PS-“Get a Job” doesn’t count!) I too am leery of the cost of returning to school, and to me, it’s only worth it if you have clear plan in mind. If you honestly feel like you chose the wrong career (because you didn’t enjoy it, or you were honestly bad at it, etc.), then consider switching fields. Otherwise, just wait it out (no matter how tough it is, this recession–and the crappy job market–won’t last forever).

        I’m with you on the fast food thing even though it makes me feel like such a snob! Since you have an English degree, I think I would hit up newspapers and magazines–lots of them hire freelance writers and and copy editors. Libraries would probably be a good thing, too, though I see you’ve been searching out those positions already.

        If you don’t specifically need benefits, I’d post fliers at Mr. A’s school to possibly drum up some proofreading or tutoring business. I might call the local schools and get my name out there for tutoring high school students. I’d get my name on the sub list. (Did you have a reason not to sub? I vaguely remember us discussing this, but I could have been speaking with someoen else…)

        If there really is nothing out there right now (and there might not be), I think I’d start filling my days with volunteering. It looks good on a resume(score!), but it also is a great way to network. Plus, it will give you chance to get out of the house and interact with people other than Mr. A and his lawschool friends (double score!).

        Bottom line: Hang in there. It can’t stay like this forever!

  4. Sarah

    I wish I could send you a hug. I understand the feeling of “Why can’t I find a job? It only requires an GED and me with my BA isn’t good enough?!” I’ve been there with pretty much everything you said. It’s actually why I gave up searching for something while I’m in school. You’re so lucky to have such a supportive family and a wonderful husband.

    It might be worth looking into going back to school (it’s how is handled a sucky job and no other prospects)? I have a friend of mine (http://savannah-delayingtherealworld.blogspot.com/) (who I actually know IRL) is getting her master’s in international education development and is planning on going into the peace corps, etc. for her program. Master’s degrees do really help when it comes to finding a job–or so I’ve been told (and I hope it’s true, or else I’m throwing away LOTS of money for this thing). Or maybe look into any kinds of certification programs that Mr. A’s school might have–less time/money but still a valuable thing to have on your resume.

    Also, have you looked into your local library (biased much?! lol)? Most of the jobs require an MLS, but there are lots of jobs for entry level positions–if nothing else, they might have volunteer positions. Or maybe just look for any other kinds of volunteer opportunities–they help boost a resume and give you something to do.

    I understand not wanting to go to fast food if you can avoid it. When you already feel low, there’s no need to make things worse. Just keep your head up–it will get better. I hope you cheer up soon. 🙂

    • I try to tell myself that maybe they pass me up because of my major and they think I will be gone as soon as I can, when really, if they pay reasonably and offer benefits, I may just stay for the 2.5 years we’re here and try the school thing again when I get home. Annoying. School could be an option, I am just scared of racking up more loans without income coming in. Certification programs is a good idea-hadn’t thought of that. And I HAVE looked at the libraries, but nothing yet. Thank you for the support and nice words. It really does help right now and lets me know I’m not completely alone.

  5. Oh sweetie, I know exactly how you feel. I graduated from college in the summer of 2001 in the architecture field. No one was hiring after 9/11. I was terribly depressed and broke. Now, nine years later my life is very good, but it took a lot to get here. I went to paralegal school about a year after I graduated and now I’m in law school. Just remember that this is temporary. Your life may not be perfect in a years time, but it will get better.

    Have you looked into becoming a substitute teacher? I did that after college when I couldn’t find a job and got calls every day for work. The money wasn’t great, but I was staying busy and it looked good on my resume. I also ALWAYS use some sort of agency or recruiter. They have helped me get every job I’ve had since my subbing days. Most companies use job agencies to hire their employees, so you need to get someone out there looking for you.

    And if you ever need to talk, feel free to send an email. I love your blog and have been right where you are now…sans husband (he came much later in life).

  6. Notes from the Fatty File

    Girl, I was in the same position when I graduated from college nine years ago. I had great grades, great work experience, had just finished a prestigious internship, blah blah blah, but I also happened to graduate during a tough economy (and then 9/11 happened). IT SUCKED. It was so hard to face family and friends and tell them that, no, I still hadn’t found a job. I signed up with the temp agency I used when I was on college breaks and even they were hurting, too. While in college I would make $15 an hour sitting at an empty desk, I was now steaming clothes all day for $8 an hour. Another gig involved dressing up as an orange and handing out Tropicana on city sidewalks. I SHIT YOU NOT. The best thing I did was go to a job fair in my industry and just meet people face to face and say, “Look, I am really good at what I do and I will work my ass off. Hire me.” And I finally launched the beginning of my “real” post-college career… 9 months after graduating.

    Hang in there. It sucks but you can do it. Network like crazy. Go to job fairs. Meet people in your profession. I know many school districts are cutting back these days because of budget cuts, but it can’t hurt to sign up as a substitute teacher or as a volunteer tutor somewhere. Meeting people face to face in places where you want to work is absolutely key to getting anywhere right now. Connections, baby. You have to work them.

    As for being embarassed to tell people that you don’t have a job, we are all our own worst critics. Please cut yourself some slack. You just graduated and you are working hard every day to one day get employed. It will happen. You may have to work your ass off to get a foot in the door, but it WILL happen. Promise.

    • God yes, the connections are CRITICAL. Work everyone you know! Tell EVERYONE you know that you are looking for a job and to keep their eyes out.

      I have a dear friend who’s in a similar position to you (although she is bar-tending to make ends meet), and she doesn’t want to ask anyone to help her. But oh my god, ASK. I am her friend and I would ask all MY friends if they know of any openings. That’s what having a network is all about! If you have Facebook or Twitter, just put it out there – I’m interested in any and every job opening!

      Okay. Enough of the assvice.

      I agree with everyone that this is a temporary situation. Hang in there and keep your chin up.

  7. Yikes, darling. I can’t imagine how frustrated you must be right now!

    So if you can’t find a job, have you thought about volunteering? You can make some great contacts that way and you never know what jobs open up. I know that at my non-profit, we adore our volunteers and give them great references when they move on from us.

    If you can make it work without a paycheck, volunteering gives you something to do and you never know what might happen!

    *hugs*

  8. Aaahhh I wish I could give you a hug right now!!! I really second everyone on the temping. I’ve done that and it’s hard but it does lead to a lot of connections and experience. Also you’re getting a paid opportunity to figure out what kind of environment you like.

    The only thing I would add is to think about your market. I don’t know what part of IL you guys are in but it might be a matter of sucking it up for a really long commute or splitting your weeks between two locations. I had to do this in CA (area around MW’s school had no opportunities so I had a hell of a commute and spent nights in another part of the state with his family… I went to a top 10 undergrad and graduated PBK to give you a little perspective on how pissed off I was about this… and it’s FREAKING CALIFORNIA the world’s 10th largest economy… but I digress). It blows, but it’s temporary and a way to get experience, and a little toughness! It wasn’t the worst thing ever.

    I also second the suggestion to volunteer. It really does lift your spirits and helps you “account” for this gap in your resume 🙂

  9. PS If you’re at all political, there are about 10 million campaigns who need all the hands they can get right now!!!

  10. Oh honey, I’m so sorry that you have to go through this. It’s not you, it’s the economy. Things are really tough right now. I know quite a few people in your same situation, willing to work anywhere and no one is hiring (or won’t hire them b/c they’re overqualified). It’s a rough time right now. But just hang in there. There should be a lot of openings soon at retail places since the holidays are coming up. Or what about bartending? I did that for a while during law school to make extra cash. The money’s good and you meet lots of people. Or just volunteer at a non-profit until you find something you love. That way you’ll be making a difference and have something great to add to your resume in the meantime.

  11. I am so sorry you’re going through this. It sucks. She doesn’t blog anymore, but Breadwinner Wife lived with her parents the first semester or so of her marriage/husband’s law career so her husband could live more cheaply by his school, and they saw each other on weekends. She was looking for a job in PR and finally, finally found one. I wonder if her blog is still up? You might enjoy her archives. I mention it based on Jamie’s suggestion above.

    And I want to second Meredith about going back to school. I think of how many people I know in law school who are there only because they didn’t want to try to find a job in this economy, and were shocked (and still some are in the dark) about how few legal jobs are available, so then they join the ranks of the Unemployed with Double (Triple, for some) Digit Debt, which is far worse than just being Unemployed. But if you have something really specific in mind you know you will love, and you know the real job prospects (and not the inflated numbers schools publish for marketing purposes), I think advanced degrees are a good thing.

    I think temping is a good idea, as is making sure you are CPR/first aid certified and looking for work as a nanny. Parents LOVE people with a background/interest in early education as their kids’ nannies, and most families pay pretty darn well. I also think working the campus angle as a proofreader/tutor might work, although I would look to see what kind of competition you are up against. UT hires honor students to tutor undergrads for free to cheap, for example. Does the university have a temp system? UT does, I’d check there, too.

    For what it is worth, I think your mom is right to say it is honorable. A coworker of mine’s husband was laid off, and he worked at a tire place changing tires to keep his kids’ health insurance and food on the table. He was embarrassed, but he did what he had to do for his family, and he earned so much respect doing so.

    I hope tomorrow is a better day. This is just a phase!

  12. I know I don’t have to remind you how much our situations are alike.

    It took me 6 months to find a really low paying, way embarrassing job, working part time. But, it had been 6 months and this was the first place to offer me anything.

    I took it, and usually hated it to be honest, but a year and a half later I’m full time, received a 50% raise, and have a true title I can be proud of on a resume.

    You know what I realized though after 6 months of hunting? When I was applying for jobs like the admin assistant at the alpaca farm (WISH I WAS KIDDING) I was shocked I didn’t get an interview when they only wanted a GED! But then I realized I was over qualified for 90% of the jobs I was applying for. And the shittier the job, the more crazy applicants that make your resume lost in the shuffle.

    Remind yourself that in this economy, you are actually, most likely, too good for all those jobs.

    I know it doesn’t change anything.

    Hell, a year later I’m still in therapy from my 6 month job hunt!

    Hang in there, email me if you want to vent.

  13. N.

    I’m going through the same thing you’re going through, except I don’t have the college degree yet. I even got a GED and nobody would hire me, not even a temp service. I take out loans and use unemployment to survive. The last job I had was a work-study job that I couldn’t return to. My husband had to go help his parents and he doesn’t earn a lot, and I’m living with my mom. So, I think that the economy sucks. Jobs suck, and you are good enough. You’re good enough. It’s these jobs that are stupid for passing you up. {another tip: You’re probably not getting hired at Target and whatnot because they see your degree and will think that you’ll want to earn more money.}

  14. Oh girl I totally understand. Last year for 12 months I didn’t have a job- with a law degree! And I applied for everything! Then I found myself working retail over Christmas and seriously was like “what happened to my life? I was supposed to get a great job after law school and be super successful and NOW I AM SELLING PURSES!!!!”

    So I kept applying- and I eventually got a job, and you will too. You just have to keep the faith. I know its hard right now, but just keep going. Also – ignore what everybody who has never been unemployed says. Nobody understands how painful it is until it actually happens to you.

    Also- don’t work fast food. Worse case scenerio go be a waitress at a high end restrant with good tips. Or babysit. Or walk dogs. Also, with the holidays coming up tons of places are hiring extra help for retail. I had zero retail experience and got a job over the holidays. Plus I got 50% off designer purses which made the fact that I hated my life.

    • SECOND the retail suggestion. I’ve done it every year. It sucks, I always feel like I’m about to kill myself or strangle someone with a ribbon, and then I get a nice fat check and it’s all better. It’s seriously SO worth it. I did gift wrapping which is nice because it’s hourly salary + tips. I mean, yes, I had to retie a bow until someone thought it “looked like a swan” (WTF?) but they gave me the equivalent of 5 hours wages in a tip. So it’s not so bad.

  15. I definitely agree with the volunteering idea. Not only will it help your resume, but it will also help you build connections and network.

    Things will get better. I know sometimes it’s hard to see it. For now, you should know from all the posts and such here that you’re a wonderful person and that everyone in your blog world family loves and appreciates you. Best of luck with finding something and with keeping your spirits up.

    PS when Ducks was between jobs a couple of years ago, he went back to his old job as a pizza delivery boy. Fortunately it was only temporary!

  16. Lyndsey

    Wow! I am not sure how I came across your blog, but I really feel like the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I am getting married THIS Saturday and am also an unemployed teacher. After college I got a great job at a great school teaching second grade in Alabama. Loved it for the first 3 years, then I met my fiance who lived in Mississippi. My fourth (and final) year of teaching we made a long distance relationship work but I resigned in May and moved to Mississippi to be with him (he is wonderfully supportive like it sounds like your husband is about the situation). I applied at all the local schools and got nowhere—with experience and a master’s degree. Frustrating to say the least. But the real kicker, they wouldn’t even consider me to be a SUBSTITUTE!!!! Are you effing kidding me?? So, now, I am working for my dad who owns, get this…a gas station and a liquor store. We live in a college town so I have applied for every position that becomes available at the university, but still nothing. So I feel your pain. I hate that you are going through the same issues, but in a selfish way, I am glad to know that I’m not the only one. You are in my prayers.

    • Thank you so much. And not all my blog posts are this depressing. At least, I hope not. haha People have said I should substitute, but I did that last semester (I graduated inDecember, so very few openings in January), but it kind of made me hate teaching. The kids tend to be rather hostile towards subs and it was hard to not know all the protocols of each school. Like you, I’m so sad you’re going through this, but at least we’re in this together. We both know we’re not alone in this terrible situation. Good luck to you!

  17. KAB

    Oh my goodness. I’m praying so hard for you right now. This economy has been so tough, but it’s stories like yours that truly speak to the toughness. My husband was out of work for a year and he waited tables. It was so hard watching my business-graduate husband who once owned a huge home-building company wait tables. But, he did what he had to do and it made him and us a lot stronger. Thinking and praying for you today. Praying that a door – to wherever – will be opened soon.

  18. Hey girl! I am super behind on blogging. I’m so sorry you are going through this!!! I cannot even imagine- newly married…new to law school…bad economy…unemployed!!!! If you want to get into the school district look into special ed assistants. I am only familiar with the Oregon/Cali area, but those jobs tend to open more than others??? Last year Doug and I were in the same spot, and I have to believe it’s going to work out!!! I think if I were you I would post a much nastier post! So you are not at all whiny! Your feelings are warranted. You and Mr. A will be in our prayers!!!

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