Our Broken System

Career troubles were never something I envisioned myself struggling with. I guess no one really does, but I’ve always believed that as long as I do everything right, it’ll be okay. But unfortunately, that’s not really how it works. I’m old enough to know that, but I still had faith that if I did everything I could, eventually I’ll get into my field and hopefully enjoy working there.

Our system is broken, in more ways than one. The way it’s broken for me is that I got my education, gained some experience, and dedicated a decent amount of time working on my resume and cover letters, but despite all of this, of the jobs I’ve applied to in my field, I have gotten zero calls for interviews. I was honestly a little startled at first, not that I expected to get a call about every job I applied for. But my field is tiny, and so any time a job popped up related to what I want to do, I’d apply, even if it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. But so far, I’ve never even made it to that first stage, which is disheartening. When I feel like I’ve met (and oftentimes exceeded) the requirements placed on the job advertisement and I don’t even get to the interview stage, I really start to doubt myself. Did I not get enough education? Did I get too much? Do I not have the right technical training? Not enough experience? Not the right kind of experience? Am I just horrible at choosing writing samples? (I’ll admit, that’s always the part that throws me off the most. I really have no clue what to do about that one).

I graduated with a four-year degree, with honors (quite a few, actually). I worked all throughout undergrad, so even though I was a fresh graduate, I had four years of applicable experience, plus about two years of experience in my field. I got my first job two weeks after graduation. Which was great. But it wasn’t in my field. I stayed there for three years so that I could work on language study and graduate school, but the hostile work environment became too much for me. I placed a round of applications in the spring and summer of 2016, and I only got interviews for two of the jobs (neither of which were in my field even!). I accepted the job I was offered because I just needed an out. It turns out, I’m not cut out for this one either. But I feel like I honestly knew that going in, I was just hoping it was better than working in the terrible environment I was in previously. Is it better? Well, yeah. There are still problems cropping up, which I will be complaining to HR about if they don’t resolve. But the main problem is still that I’m not happy with what I’m doing. I’m not interested in it, and my creativity is smothered. Knowing myself, I just know I can’t thrive and continue on in an environment like this either. Although I’m grateful I have a job at all in our broken system, I don’t think that means that I can’t be dissatisfied with the work I’m having to do.

While working the first job (and into this second one), I started an MA program, which I’m set to receive in just a few weeks. I also took on a more permanent freelance position as Editor-in-Chief of a digital and print start-up magazine. I did this, even though it’s unpaid, in order to gain more relevant experience, hoping to beef up my resume for the field. I’ve been there for almost a year now, which is on top of the 4.5-5 years of freelance experience I had before even starting this venture.

So in the end, I did not expect to receive a BA with honors, an MA in my field, 5 years of experience (including one year as an Editor-in-Chief so far), and not be able to enter my field at the mid-rank. (Not that I’ve been able to get an interview for entry level in my field either). I’m starting an editing post-grad program this summer, in the hopes that this specific training will better prepare me for if I’m able to get something in the field that’s more editing-intensive. I’ve never actually had formal training like that, so I think it will be beneficial to me, even if I never get a job in the field.

I hate that I run the risk of seeming entitled, but I honestly don’t think I’m being like that at all. I don’t expect anyone to hand me anything just because I went to school. I went beyond that in every way I possibly could, and I still am, in order to try and break into the field. So I hope no one thinks I’m just expecting someone to give me a great job in my field because I got a BA. I’ve put so much time and money into trying to better myself for moving into this field. I’ve stressed for countless days and nights while trying to complete graduate school while working full time and working part time on the freelance venture. Obviously, I’m willing to work for it. But now I’m concerned that because it’s taking me a while, in the end, I’m never going to make it into my field, or if I do, it will only be at the entry level. I’m worried that the only jobs I’ll be able to get are the basic entry-level jobs that pay in the 20k range. That’s just not going to cut it at this point. I’m still quite new to the workforce in general, but I’m on a 40k range salary right now. I can’t possibly take that big of a cut. And with my education and experience, I think I’m more qualified than that too. I have big student loans from undergrad to pay off too. And I’d like to not delay my life (in terms of having a family) any longer either…

I know this is just a lot of me venting, but I felt like I needed to get it out in order to feel better. It’s frustrating, and I know I’m by no means the only person having this issue. I just don’t really know what else to do. All I can do is keep applying, but the jobs aren’t that frequent anyway, since the city I live in isn’t exactly a place for writers/editors. My best bet is the university I currently work at, as they have quite a few publications.

Anyway. That’s enough venting. I should try to do something productive.

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