…turns out to be a lot of sitting around in my running shorts reading Buzzfeed.
I’m waiting for an email, any email. It doesn’t have to be a job opportunity – I’d take a promotional email from Topshop, or one of those threads that guarantees my death if I don’t send to ten friends in ten minutes. Anything, really, to distract me from having to write a cover letter.
It’s no secret that the job market isn’t great for recent grads. To make matters trickier, I recently moved to a new city, Los Angeles, and my networking circle is anemic.
And I don’t want just any job. I want a special job. I want a job where I am in charge of important things. I want a job that will pay me enough to eat dinner at organic restaurants any night I please.
Is that so much to ask?
Here’s what my average day has become. We’ll start at seven in the morning with me, running shorts on, feeling optimistic. I begin to casually browse my favorite job boards to see if anything new has popped up since yesterday. Some stuff has but it seems beneath me.
I eat breakfast. I watch the morning news.
I start trolling the alumni job board I have exclusive access to through the prestigious small liberal arts college I attended. An hour later, I am sprawled on the floor with a critical theory textbook over my face moaning “fuck-the-english-major” over and over.
I decide that these academic-type jobs aren’t for me. I’m an independent thinker. A lone ranger. In a frenzy, I google anything that’s ever piqued my interest to see if I can get paid to stand next to it and do something. Skin care! Korean food! Kittens! Mountaineering!
Once I calm down, I get down to business.
I find a job that sounds great. I decide to write a cover letter. A beautiful, lovingly-crafted cover letter. One into which I pour hours of labor, agonizing over diction, in which I move commas back and forth in an attempt to really, genuinely convey who I am and how the nuances of my character will work in conjunction with the requirements of this position.
And then, once it’s perfect, I’ll attach it to an email and send.
That’s the last I’ll ever hear of it.
The internet is an abyss and I’m staring into it all day long.
The abyss would like to share some advice with me. The abyss really thinks I should have interned more in college.
I need to take a break. I go across the street to buy some groceries. I pick up some garlic and a bag of rice noodles and hand the owner my money and head back out on the street.
I scan the sidewalk, checking out all these people who somehow have cracked the employment code. They’re buying things with money and wearing well-pressed slacks. Somewhere in this city, someone gives them money to do something and then they take that money and pay their rent and buy food without having to ask their parents for yet another loan.
Now that I’m unemployed, everyone I see is a potential networking opportunity. You never know who might know someone who knows someone who is looking to hire a young lady with very little on her resume. I am extra chatty with strangers.
I walk back to my apartment and start making noodles. While I wait for the water to boil, I spend a few minutes curating my LinkedIn profile, trying to make the three years I spent as a barista sound like marketing experience.
I can’t believe I ever made fun of certain jobs. Insurance salesperson? That sounds amazing. Call center rep? Bring it on.
In college I was so concerned with not selling out. Now I’m not sure what “selling out” really means. In fact, it sounds lucrative and I’m interested. I’d hawk my pinkies if it lead to stable employment. I really would.
My noodles are ready. I’ve made about four servings so I can set some aside for leftovers. I mix the noodles with sesame oil, rice vinegar, tamari, and pepper.
It’s around now that the guilt sets in.
See, I took a year off after graduation to “find myself.” At the time, this seemed both crucial and radical. Now, it seems simply unbelievable. Did I really buy into that bullshit?
I didn’t “find myself;” I just stayed on vacation. Everything was easy and I didn’t have to think very much at all. I didn’t contribute to society. I merely consumed: food, time, resources, experiences, all my savings.
I sit on the couch chewing noodles and thinking about grad school. What’s another 50 thousand dollars of debt? Sure, I don’t know what I want to do with my career, but at least school is better than unemployment, right?
I finish my noodles and go back for seconds. Then thirds.
Then I eat all the noodles.
Nauseous, trying to digest a pound of rice, I click through several Buzzfeed quizzes. My name, I discover, should really be “Serena.”
By the time my blood sugar crashes, I’m feeling awful. I start making backup plans. Okay, so I don’t get a job – I can always apply for an Americorps program. Okay, but if I don’t get into a Americorps program – I can always move back home. But I can’t keep asking my parents to support me. Okay – I can be homeless.
I brace myself for this. Homelessness. I don’t handle sun exposure well. I have sensitive feet. How long will my clogs last under these conditions? Do food banks in L.A. serve kombucha?
Someone calls my phone. It’s my friend Kate.
“Hello?” I sniff.
“Hey lady, how’s it going?”
“Fine. Totally fine.”
“Oh nothing. Really nothing. It’s just – I’m just thinking about college. Do you remember that internship at the library I thought about doing Sophmore year? I should have taken it. Because now I have no professional experience and no one will hire me and I’m going to end up homeless!”
“Seriously? Dude, you’ve been in L.A. for three weeks. Calm down.”
When I get off the phone, I feel better. I clean up my noodle dishes.
I’m doing this blindly, guys. And I’m doing it badly. I spend days scouring job boards but rarely send out any applications. It feels too futile. Why spend hours researching a company and drafting a cover letter if my application won’t ever be pulled out of the spam folder?
Anyway, thanks to my lovely friends, family, and sig. other, by the time I go to sleep, I’m feeling fine again (Note to my fellow unemployed-ies: surround yourself with good people). Optimistic, even.
Tomorrow’s another day. I might just wake up and find ten emails from high-paying, ethical companies all over Los Angeles begging me to please, please come work for them.
You never know.