Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gainfully Unemployed

Well folks, I'm finally doing it. After loads of coaxing from family, friends, and MSN's Career Section, I'm finally committing myself to blog-writing.
The biggest reason behind my slow-poke reluctance to begin this thing is simply that I needed to find my focus. Decide what, specifically, I wanted this hypothetical blog to be all about. Because being unemployed, at least for me, can make you a bit of a scatter-brain. (I can hear my sister chuckling now, "Sis, you've always been a space-cased, scatter-brained nut") I mean, once I finally realized the hours upon hours of nearly complete free time I had on my hands, suddenly I thought I'd become Super-Woman! Its like Saturday-morning syndrome on 7-day repeat. With the whole day spread out in wide expanse, my mind sees no limit to the things I could do! Browse the recipes on Smitten Kitchen, read the New York Times - AND the New Yorker - cover to cover! Deep clean the apartment, explore real-estate prices in Ohio (pretty good right now)! Make jewelry for my friends, learn how to make Pad Thai, watch the Opera online! Run down the Ave with a spoon on my nose! And that doesn't even begin to cover all the types of job opportunities I can read about/research/apply to...

Basically, I have a million and one interests and I could write about all of them. But that would only lead to more scatter-brainy-ness and if there's one mantra I'm trying my hardest to follow during my unemployment, it's to stay focused. And really, this is where my life is at the moment, in between the pendulum swing from college graduation to employment. And boy, do I have a lot to say about it.

It's just over two months since I moved back to Seattle, and really started searching for work (although I had been looking long before that). Now, I'm completely aware that my status is far from unique - especially among my peers - and I plead no sympathy from anyone. I cannot recall a time when I've complained about not finding work, and truthfully, at times, I enjoy the freedom it brings. The opportunity to reflect. Re-focus. Re-orient myself. Yet somehow I've managed to keep myself busy. On average, I submit 3-6 resume/cover letter combo's per week, and apply more informally to numerous other's. I'm in constant contact with former colleagues in Minnesota, and potentially helpful professionals in my fields of interest. I'm browsing job postings, news updates on the economy, and career-oriented blogs daily. Not unlike so many recent college graduates. Yet, unlike so many of them, I've remained more or less optimistic about my chances of not only finding a job - but finding a job I wanted. The beat on the street continues to be doom and gloom among so many unemployed 20-something's (maybe that's why I've been keeping myself indoors?). I can trace that pessimism all the way back to April, in my Senior Thesis classroom, when our professor - a man who had the responsibilty of pushing us through the last course of our undergrad careers - devotes two whole lectures to the unstable, near-depleted, and all-but warlike job market we were about to enter. While I agreed with his point that we must at least know what we're facing, it seemed to only spur self-pity among my classmates, a far from productive attitude. If even half of professors across the nation delivered the same depressing address, it would come as no surprise that so many 2009 graduates have curled into the fetal positions (most likely, on their parents' couches).

Rather than that dismal picture on the state of things, what I hope my nation's Class of 2009 retains from college instead - what I try to keep in my mind's forefront - is the ability to show resolve, resourcefulness, and ingenuity. We got ourselves through 4 years of grueling exams, months of paper-writing, and more pages of reading than will ever be necessary, all while developing a social circle, involving ourselves in extra-curriculars, and working evenings and weekends. And besides those select few who made it through solely riding Dad's coattails, that's gotta say something about us! It's true that there may not be anything to show for it just yet - besides that cheap piece of paper - but moaning and groaning won't help me get a job. Instead, I'm using this time to develop my skills, explore other niches, and re-focus my attention so that I actually become a better candidate for employment. Could having loads of free time actually give me, dare I say, an edge on my less-resourceful competition? Ok..I can't prove it just yet, but this liberal arts girl isn't afraid to try.

That's why I'm calling this my gainful unemployment, because there really is a way to make something from (almost) nothing. Stay tuned...