This is part of an ongoing series of articles about being employed or unemployed in today’s economy. We are sharing real stories of struggles and accomplishments, as well as advice on what others can do to make it out in the real world. Read more articles from our writers series on The Vine.
When The Melon’s editor told us about a writer’s series on the struggles to find employment, I thought, “um, yeah. I have a thing or two to say about that.” I have been looking for a job since I graduated college in 2007. I have applied for what I would estimate to be well over 500 jobs. Then, three days after the email about the writer’s series, something unprecedented happened: I was offered a job.
Now, there are two clarifications I need to make. First, I have not been unemployed this whole time. I have just retained the same (excruciatingly painful) job as a salon manager I’ve had since Freshman year of college. As much as I hated this job, I cannot even imagine what I would have done without it. To those people that have faced unemployment, my heart breaks for you. My experience with menial wages has been bad enough.
Clarification #2: although I am sincerely grateful for this new employment, with a great company that I’m sure will afford me many possibilities, the position I am taking has absolutely nothing to do with the degree earned in college.
That degree is a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Eastern Washington University. I worked hard for that degree. Graduated with nearly a 4.0. Put myself into debt for that degree. Was passionate about that degree. However that degree, I can’t help but feel, is completely useless.
In my college classes we had discussions about ”the changing face of journalism;” the move to the Internet, the rise of the blogger, etc. But to my recollection there was never a discussion that the field already had one foot in the grave. That seasoned, talented journalists were being let go, and that we would be competing with these veteran journalists for entry-level positions. So when I graduated wide-eyed and ready to take on the world, I abruptly had the wind knocked out of me. Not only were positions to apply for scarce to say the least, they were basically just a race for a rejection letter.
But that was just Spokane, I told myself. My hometown was small. Only one major newspaper, one alternative paper, not much else. Small market, of course I won’t find a job here. So I transferred my job to Seattle and headed west to the big city. Shortly after, The Seattle P-I went out of print. Seattle was now a one-paper town like Spokane. Hmm. Time for a change of tactic… I’ll do marketing writing instead! Copywriting or something. Easy.
Or not. More brick walls. More unreturned calls. More unfortunate “Dear Candidate” letters.
And so on and so forth. Each time I “lowered” my standards for employment, thinking it would be only a matter of time until I received an offer, I was met with disappointment. It began to wear on my self-confidence that a resume with a Bachelor’s and management experience couldn’t even get me an interview for simple administrative work.