Monday, October 20, 2008
I haven't posted much about my job search because, let's be honest kids, to do so would be indiscrete. This is the Interweb. Anyone can see the smack I'm talking. But now I can unleash the sordid truth about post-MFA job hunting because I shall hunt no more again forever.
I started applying for jobs before I'd even graduated. I was getting phone interviews before I even left Missoula. I was looking into marketing, copywriting, editorial and management positions. And the fact that I was getting calls back convinced me that I wasn't entirely out of my league. Inevitably, the interviews would root out the truth: that although I had two master's degrees under my belt, a way with words, a wicked sense of humor, and all the pluck of a Disney heroine, I haven't had a real professional job in over five years. Which means I haven't had real professional on-the-job experience in over five years. And a lot has happened in five years--in technology, in the job market, in fashion...
It didn't help that I was competing with so many other, more qualified (experience-wise) candidates. The development coordinator position for which I applied back in September drew 140 applications. The editorial position with a fantasy gaming position drew almost 200. I should be pleased that I even snagged interviews for some of these jobs, even if I didn't end up getting the job. But it's hard to shake the feeling that there must be something wrong with my face if I can't close the deal in person. Job hunting foments insecurity like nothing else. You ask yourself silly questions like "Am I really qualified to do anything?" or "Why don't people like me?"
So it came time to reassess. Yes, I was tired of not having enough money at the end of the month to do the things I wanted to do. I was tired of the constant credit card debt I had to accrue to make up the difference between my intake from freelancing and my rent and bills. It's not like I have a huge overhead. I'm not a big shopper. I have, like, three pairs of pants that fit. My shoes are old and worn. My computer is five years old and I won it in a contest. I don't even own an iPod. I don't need a lot of gadgets. I don't even eat out very much any more. I don't take extravagant vacations. I don't need a lot of money. I just want to be able to buy a non-yellow cheese every now and then. I want to eat my non-yellow cheese on nice crackers--not saltines. And, unfortunately, I had a taste of that good life back in the mid-90s, when jobs were plentiful and I got one right out of college. For six years I had a professional editorial position with benefits (back when I was young and healthy and didn't need them) and paid time off. Since it was my first job, of course I took it for granted. I whined and complained about the trivial problems that one will have with any job. The inter-office pettiness, the "low" pay (apparently, at 23, I thought I should be making six figures), the humiliation of working for the man, blah blah blah. Now that I've been spit back out into the job market and seen what it's like, I would give at least one kidney and a good portion of my liver to crawl back into the warm, wet, wonderful womb of that first job.
But the past is the past. And now, after all those months of tailoring cover letters and resumes and going to interviews and wringing my hands, good friend Amy emails to tell me there's an open office assistant position where she works. The hours are flexible. The pay is more than enough to keep me happily cheesed. The employer is a respected institution of higher education. It's temporary (there's a hiring freeze in state agencies) with the potential for permanance (should the hiring freeze be lifted). I would have the time and the mental space to write without having to worry about bills. I might even be able to start saving money again. Really, it's like manna from heaven, dropped in my lap. I had an interview this morning. I start on Wednesday. And I will be the best office assistant who ever office assisted.