We’ve all seen the news articles and heard the stories, “millennials are just unemployable”, “they won’t work hard”, “they’re entitled”, “they’re lazy”. And we’ve seen the looks on the faces of the interviewers when they see our “lack of work experience” as we tell them how proficient we’ll be, all the while our eyes begging them, “please, just give me a chance”.
After the 10th interview, it starts to get to you. And then, you begin to question yourself.
“What if I really am unemployable?” “What if I never get my life together?” “What if where I am now is the only place I’ll ever be?”
But I worked so hard.
After working so hard in school and moving on to graduation, you’re filled with so much hope. You think of all your accomplishments. You think of everything you’ve done. You worked internships, you participated in school activities, you did well in your classes… and now here you are relegated to the bottom of the barrel.
When I graduated college, I wanted to beat the odds. I wanted to be the one to get that job and prove to everyone that it is indeed possible to start working full-time right after college, but that never happened. I worked an internship for six months straight out of college while all my classmates began working full-time jobs. After it ended, in my mind, I just knew that I was going to get a full-time job too. And then, a year went by and nothing happened. I never heard back from the jobs I applied for and it left me with a lot of doubt. Was I not good enough? And then the light started to dim and the fear set in.
Had I done something wrong?
Since about my sophomore year of college, I worked internships. Some paid, some not, but I worked hard regardless. I made a lot of great friends and met some wonderful people. I got to experience things that I never would’ve been able to do on my own and got to meet people that I could never meet in my day-to-day life. I gained work experience and skills that they just don’t teach you in school. And with graduation on the horizon, I was 100% ready! I had a game plan. And then, December 18th finally came and I graduated college with high hopes. I just knew I was gonna get a job fresh out of college. I was gonna beat the odds! And it didn’t happen.
Working that internship for six months filled me with emotions that I wasn’t sure how to handle. I endured the embarrassment and of feeling like a failure. In my mind, I had done something wrong and I had to fix it. I kept replaying over and over everything that I had done. Where did I go wrong? I worked so HARD. I made all the right sacrifices, I put my life on hold and still Nothing. So my sole goal became to somehow get back into school to fix my mistakes.
But that never happened either. Reality set in quickly, I couldn’t afford to take the GRE which meant, I couldn’t go back to school. Nobody was hiring me, I couldn’t go back to school, and I had put my loan payments on hold for the second time which meant the interest was adding up.
I was terrified, embarrassed, and hurt.
I sat and listened, for months, as people went on and on about how successful their lives had become. I listened as people mocked me for going to college (and gaining debt) and not being able to find a job to pay it all back. I had come to the realization that I had “gambled” on my life and hadn’t even considered that I could lose simply because of the hand I was dealt.
For Two Years, I sat back and I watched everyone else move on with their lives while I just felt stuck in one place.
When I started getting those call backs, the light began to burn lightly again. That hope, that I once had, was slowly returning to me. (no exaggeration) I went on at least 15 interviews and didn’t get a single job. Some of those interviews were second and third interviews for a position that I would eventually be passed over for.
Then that day came.
I got an interview for a job that I was convinced I wasn’t going to get. It was a long shot by far and after the trial and error I had already endured, I wasn’t sure I should even go. I was fully prepared to call and cancel it. But I told myself, “one last time, this time it’ll be different”. I interviewed and they told me, “we’ll let you know the outcome in January”.
My heart sank.
It sank because I knew that January would come and I would once again be told, “we’re sorry but we’ve chosen a more qualified candidate but we wish you all the best in your job search.” However, the letter I got was much different this time. This time, it was congratulating me on the position and asking me if I would accept.
Me. Someone with only internship experience. Someone who had been out of work for Two Years. Someone who was completely and utterly unsure if she was qualified for the job. They wanted me.
I say all this to say… Don’t dismiss your accomplishments. No matter how big or how small or how “insignificant” they may seem, they matter. You have also Worked Hard! And though you may not be where you want to be yet, you’ll get there. Your journey is yours alone. We will each travel different paths.
Keep driving. There’s nothing wrong with your GPS.
And Never let anyone tell you what you can’t do. I was told there was No Way I’d get a job in my field. But now, I’m actually working in my field of study and standing firmly in my career at 25.
Keep pushing. Keep going. Keep fighting.
In the grand scheme of things, I know two years is probably not a long time. In fact, there are people who have been out of work longer than I can even imagine. But the reality is, in that moment, whether it’s six months to a year, if you’re not “seeing” the progress, it can seem like forever. A Waiting Place. But it’s not over yet, you still have to keep going. Keep fighting. Keep moving. Don’t forget your dedication and don’t forget your drive. You have earned every single accomplishment you’ve ever made and you have so many more places to go and things to achieve.
Enjoy the ride. While you’re in your “Waiting Place”, learn something new, do something you’ve always wanted to try, or pick up a hobby. Travel if you can and if you can’t, a “stay-exploration” can be just as fun as you experience parts of your city you didn’t know existed. Make new friends, network, connect with people. Be productive. Keep yourself busy. And spend less time on social media.
Social media will force you to hyper-focus on everyone else’s journey and make you feel as if your own in less significant. Limit your time there. You won’t be in your “Waiting Place” long.
I know it’s rare that I just take a moment to talk about me personally, however, someone, somewhere, is feeling what I was feeling this time last year. They’re feeling that mix of desperation, regret, loneliness, sadness, and failure. They’re thinking of everything they’ve given up and everything that they turned down. It’s not a good place to be and it’s not a healthy place to be but it’s a place that we’re all capable of going when we’ve forgotten that bright light and we just need some reassurance that it’s going to be ok.
So here it is, your “sign”, your “message”… It’s Going To Be Ok.