Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sometimes, the job search feels like this. But other times, it's strangely OK.

I wish I could claim credit for this fabulous graphic, but I can't. (Credit goes, I think, to a photographer named Jonas Eriksson; his site is here and well worth checking out.) I stumbled across it when I was looking at blogs like mine to see if I could shamelessly steal anything from them. Mission accomplished! 

So, yes, it's been a frustrating several months. At the same time, however, I've learned a TON. Here are three things the job search process has taught me about myself and the world in general:
  • If you need help, ask for it. I know, it sounds painfully obvious, but it took me months to realize it's fine to ask family, friends, or even complete strangers to lend a hand. Provided you're polite, most people are eager to help however they can. I've had so many encounters with fantastic people I would never have met if I hadn't shamelessly asked them to help me out. For instance, I found out about La Cocina on Yelp, decided it was somewhere I'd like to work, looked them up, and emailed a woman named Leticia to see if she'd talk with me about similar organizations in the Bay Area. A week later, I met her and we spent over an hour brainstorming places I could apply, and she continues to email me occasional job postings. I still haven't gotten a job out of the encounter, but it's improved my life in many other ways. (Example: the Street Food Festival has been on my radar forever.) How cool is that?
  • I am even more disciplined than I thought I was. Since September 2008, I've spent at least six hours a week doing job-search-related work: searching for job postings, emailing Williams alumni, drafting cover letters, contacting people for informational interviews, and, more recently, working on this blog. While sometimes this effort makes me want to roar like that lion in the photo, it's also been great to find out that I have the willpower to carve out a place for myself in the world.  
  • Rest is important. I sort of like setting my own schedule, but if you're never technically at work, it turns out that you're also technically never NOT at work (take that double negative, George Orwell!), which is exhausting. Lately, I've been trying hard to take one day a week to take a walk, explore a new neighborhood, draw, write, cook, or do something else totally unrelated to work or the search for work. I'm not living the life I had in mind for myself right now, but I know I'll get there eventually and in the meantime I should really enjoy being alive, healthy, young, and in a fantastic city. Besides, it totally shows if you've mindlessly cranked out four cover letters in two hours, and no one's going to hire a mindless person. Or so I'm told. 
With that in mind, I'm going to see if I can find that secret garden on Harrison Street that I keep hearing about. Wish me luck!

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