I feel like I’m out alone in choppy unemployment waters, on a raft with just enough food, water and hope to survive until I hit land, yet I fear that my boat could tip at any moment.
Okay, it’s a little dramatic. The point is, I feel like one of the few job seekers out there (all of my friends are either employed or stay at home moms), worried that I’ll never find a job in this tough economy, and conflicted about my next steps.
Nearly three years ago, I realized that I would be better off working in something other than teaching. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the job, but there was always something not quite right for me in it. I decided to go back to school and get a Master’s degree in communications.
What I could not anticipate was that during my two years of study, the economy would tank, communications jobs would become sparse, and it would become almost impossible for an entry level applicant to find a position. To further complicate things, my May 2009 graduation coincided with a scheduling conflict. My husband and I would be moving to the Bay Area from Los Angeles in October. I had to either find a part time job/internship or wait out the long period.
I got an internship for which I could work remotely almost right after graduation and then another when we moved to the Bay Area. Regardless of the fact that I have had a couple of internships (and I’ll be discussing some of the issues with these sometime soon), looking for jobs has been a challenge to say the least. Every day, I summon up the courage and patience to slog through multiple job listing sites and try to send out at least two applications a week. Often, there aren’t enough interesting jobs to even do that.
I have not yet become what is deemed a “discouraged worker,” or someone who is unemployed but hasn’t tried to find a job in the last four weeks, but I fear that this could eventually happen. I have plenty to be discouraged about. First off, according to the Boston Globe, the unemployment rate for people with at least a college education is about half of the rate for the national average, which is 10% right now according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Secondly, there is some evidence that shows that the longer you are out of work, the harder it is to get a job. Someone who has been out of work for only 45 days will be hired before someone who has been out of work for nine months.
I’m in a constant state of uncertainty and confusion about what to do. On one hand, I need to get experience, and getting paid would make me feel like my very expensive Master’s degree is actually worth something. On the other hand, I’m pregnant and only getting closer and closer to the due date, and I don’t know what will happen after baby if I do get a job. I want to have the luxury to be a little picky; a part time flexible job that gets me the experience I need and that is somewhat close to home would be ideal. The ideal is extremely far and few between.
During the week, I take my puppy for walks after everyone has left for work. I chat with the retired folk in the neighborhood and try to enjoy the fact that I can putz around in my garden, read what I want to read, learn how to landscape, experiment with Photoshop, and study what I want. At the same time, I feel exasperated, dejected and wonder what the hell I’m going to do with myself.
My husband tried to comfort me last night by recounting his job search story during the last recession. He struggled to find a job, and people comforted him by telling him it was the economy. He told me that he noticed a large change when the economy started to swing back into shape, and that I should anticipate the best. I hope he’s right.