Monday, May 19, 2014

Little Steps

This isn't what you think it is. Trust me.

This past weekend was, for many colleges and universities, graduation. Which, aside from the fact that it made me realize I've been a year since my own trip across the proverbial stage to get my BA, is a time for new graduates to just bask in their potential. And there's a lot of potential in almost all of those pictures currently flooding my Facebook feed of caps, gowns, and shiny new diplomas.

I'd like to know when I got quite as cynical as I have because my response - and congratulatory status update - included mention of getting slapped in the face by reality.

Because it is coming. Whether you, as a new graduate, want to believe it or not, it is coming.

Unless you're one of the few that have been hired back by the place you did your unpaid internship at, it's a tough as shit job market out there. I have a degree in chemistry, and it took me roughly a year and a half to get a job. My friend, who's a teacher at an all girls Catholic high school in Rochester, took about year after her masters degree to find a position. My other friend is currently still jobless, and she's been out two years.

Nobody is going to hand you a job when you hand them a resume with your credentials on it. You have to apply. You have to get rejected. You quite possibly have to go all the way to Chicago, IL, take two civil service exams, and then come all the way back home to realize, yeah, that might not happen either though you're more than qualified.

It sucks, it really does. It feels like a never-ending uphill battle. In some cases, it really is. But you have to keep trying. Even getting a first interview is a big step. But it's also a little step. And the important thing to remember is that what you might end up doing is not something you would have dreamed you'd do in the first place.

Case in point: I never thought I would work with hot mix asphalt cement for the same employer my father has worked at for thirty years. (Does this mean my father was the one to get me my current job? No. He suggested I put in an application, and he sent it in for me, but the rest of it was my doing. We also do very different things for the same company.)

But it's a job. I enjoy going to work every afternoon (hooray for second shift! Seriously, I love it.) and I find it interesting. Did I also swear to myself as an undergrad that I wouldn't ever work in a lab? Yeah, I did. I also swore I'd never willingly look through scientific literature articles and materials post-graduation, and hey, I do that on a regular basis, too. With excitement.

Times change. Situations change. And you, yourself, will need to be a little flexible at first. It's not going to be perfect, but it's going to be something. You just have to keep trying, and take it one little step at a time.

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"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz