After being stuck at Level 1 over hundred times, working my way up to Level 2 several times and being batted back down to where I started, I’ve made it. I’ve finally received a highly coveted job offer. Granted, I won’t be writing articles or anything like that, but I will be working with a lot of numbers and turning them into stories. My favorite high school teacher was the one who started me on that path.
So if I am counting from when I sat my last exam at the university, it’s been… 18 months. Of course, I was technically underemployed for that whole time and sick for about 12 months and so. It was a particularly trying time.
Yes, the economy is bad. But that doesn’t explain some of the other factors working against me. They are:
- The fact that I am a female of reproductive age
- I am clearly Asian and,
- I have only a little work experience over most new graduates.
Sometimes you bring these topics up and people like to say things like “My friend who is _____ was able to get a job right out of college!” The truth is that they are one person that you may know. But remember, I am not that person and they are not me. There is just no comparison point. Everyone’s situation is different.
I have had an employer note that my English language skills were a problem – I am a naturalized citizen by birth; I went to normal state schools where everyone spoke English and we were forced to read (and discuss) Shakespeare and novels such as The Great Gatsby and To Kill A Mockingbird.
I have been straggled for months on end by an employer who was worried I was an international student with an impermanent visa, who couldn’t speak English properly. I proved him wrong. That being said, they never called or emailed back. It’s quite possible the contract they had with a client they were supposed to work with fell through. Well, that’s what I thought, until I recently saw an ad for a data entry clerk for that very same company.
So my advice is: there is a lot of horrible advice online about how to actually get a job. You waste countless hours doing cover letters, scouring jobs online and writing thank you notes that don’t really matter. My mother reminded me that this was actually bad practice, “If you have confidence in your skills and ability, you don’t need to. It also makes you seem desperate and that you’re trying to get through the back door. You don’t need to.”
In reality, no one came back to me and offered me a job when I wrote thank you notes. For the job I was offered, no one received a thank you note. The only piece that I have come across as being relevant to me was Susannah Breslin’s How to Get a Job If You’re a 20-Something Woman (for my male counterparts Frances Bridges’ How to Get a Job if You’re a 20-Something Guy should suffice). Noted, I am nowhere near as physically attractive as Frances and aggressive as Susannah. However, I did tick the last box: I had (and still have) heart.
“It doesn’t matter how strong or capable you are; if you don’t have a big heart, you will not succeed.”
— Li Ka-Shing, Asia’s Richest Man
I could still make it.
Let me tell you one thing though. Sometimes it isn’t your fault. Though the majority of the world may be smug about having a job, a lot will hate it. In other words, please don’t forget that selling your time is not exactly the best way to do things. And sometimes, the job isn’t meant for you. Take that as a blessing in disguise. I know people say that you should take ANY job you can get, but you should not simply acquiesce into jobs that you will give you health problems. I learnt the hard way.
With the right job, things flow naturally. I can’t say I prepared a heavy deal before the interview (read: not at all). But I really didn’t have to think too hard or bring in skilful subterfuge to answer any of the questions. I felt at ease. I was even smiling after the interview— I knew I did well.
If you’re the right fit, you don’t have to try too hard. It’s a little bit like reaching for a cookie jar on a higher shelf. If you’re tall, you will get it without much trouble. Even if you were short, you could always prop yourself on a ladder or stool and not have to strain too much. Likewise, if you fall over and break your back because you had a rickety ladder and you were too short (or you were just tall and clumsy), then it isn’t for you. The words of my former lecturer ring true: “I am a great believer in providence. You will get the job you are meant to get.”
I would go to interviews, get nervous and bomb them. My eyes would start watering almost every time someone called back to tell me I didn’t get the job. Then, I started to reframe things in my mind. I stopped thinking too far ahead. I stopped thinking about how I would get to work if I got the job. I didn’t think about how I would pay the rent if I got the job. If is conditional. Is, on the other hand, is not.
So for interviews, I would only think up to that one interview only, do a job search and move on. Do not stagnate. You can fall into the trap of taking a break that turns into a huge period of non-productivity. Do something fun – focus on your hobbies, do something new (not necessarily expensive), do things you couldn’t do when you were busy with school/kids/work/whatever. Remember, there are things you can’t change but, for the most part, happiness is a choice.
I guess I’ll be back in awhile— I’ve got to make an appointment with a very special lecturer of mine. Providence is a great thing, indeed.