Job-Hunting on a Budget
It’s often been said that looking for a job is the worst job there is, and IMO, part of what makes job-hunting so emotionally arduous is that it requires us to aim high, and commit to our magnificent potential…even when we’re, to paraphrase Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, “feeling kinda temporary” about ourselves. You may feel like sh*t, but you still gotta sell. If you can’t sell, you can’t get a better job, which of course ends up making you feel worse. Party. Good times.
Not to mention, many of us–myself 100% included–have had to job-hunt while we were b-r-o-k-e. That’s a special kind of good times, that’s not at all heartbreaking and frustrating. Because of course to get a great job you have to convince gainfully employed humans that hey yeah, you’re awesome, you’re just as cool as them, though you may have one change of clothing to your name, and are looking up “eviction proceedings nyc,” as you “eat” delicious meals of sliced onion cooked in butter-spray. That last moldy onion in your otherwise barren fridge. This is when you have to remind yourself that it’s always darkest before the storm, and tell yourself as much inspirational
horseshit pep talk as necessary to git ‘er done, as they say in Indiana.
And a big thing you’re going to have to remember, if this blog post started off funny, and is now making you feel kinda anxious, is that it’s okay to ask for help. Full stop. Think about that for 5 minutes and take it in: asking for help is NOT weakness, it’s daily life. The people you admire, whom you think never took a false step? If they’re not total liars, they’re going to admit that they had a lot of help achieving their goals. Anyone who tells you, “I did it entirely on my own,” seriously needs to STFU because hello, even our Greatest Generation had help beating the Nazis. The only thing you ever do completely on your own is masturbate, and okay, I know, even I can’t believe I went there, but whatever, it’s been a long day.
If you’re trying to job hunt, or if you’re already in the midst of a search, and you’ve got a huge interview coming up, but no money to make it happen, okay, chill, deep breath, don’t panic. Instead of hyperventilating, instead of deciding that the fact that you’re broke means you’re a bad person, and you don’t deserve a good job, shut up, and start identifying all the people/institutions in your network who might be willing to help. For example, my college has a private Facebook group wherein people contribute money and/or emotional resources to others in need. People have gotten help making car payments, paying their rent, with groceries and the like.
So if my college has this group, what kind of resources might your college/grad school have? Have you at least contacted your main alumni association and set up an appointment? All these people can do is say, “No,” and what if they say, “Yes?” Don’t be in such a hurry to reject yourself. If your alumni association isn’t helpful, what about local religious organizations, friends, family? Have you Googled volunteer groups? Just how determined are you to change your life…?
Some of you are mortified just thinking about this, but you need to understand something: in any person’s career, there are only a limited amount of transformative professional moments. Therefore, before you decide, “Well, I can’t afford to attend this interview, so I better cancel, and once I save up some money, I’ll try to figure something else out.” Hmm. You sure about that? I’m guessing probably securing this interview took time and effort and determination. I’m guessing it didn’t just happen. If you turn this down, understand that what you’re really turning down is yourself. And those rejections are (emotionally) costly. Not to mention, if you turn down an interview, the only thing the interviewer knows is that now you’re not reliable. People talk.
So, listen, what the hell do I know,* but do me a favor: If you’ve got some opportunity coming up, and you’re too broke to travel, before you kick it to the curb, take 5 minutes and think creatively. Could you Skype or Facetime the interview? Can you borrow money from a family member, and pay them back in chores or childcare? Does your city/state have any resources for working professionals? HAVE YOU ASKED?
Because I don’t even know you, but I know that your potential deserves to flourish. Ask for the help you need to galvanize that potential. It’s hard enough to change your life, and get a job you love, without rejecting yourself.
*I mean, you know, I’ve only coached TV news anchors, and famous actors and people in the Obama White House FFS, but don’t mind me.
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