Sometimes I look back on my life and hate myself for taking t.v. shows, movies, and books too seriously when I was younger. T.V. was probably the biggest culprit leading to my lack of financial reality. Take Friends, for instance. For a while, at least, Monica is a chef and Rachel is a waitress living in a New York City apartment that would probably go for around $4,000 a month. I should mention I know nothing about NYC real estate except that an old college friend lived in a closet-sized studio for $1,200 a month. I know that times are way different than they were when my parents and grandparents were growing up, but I thought by 25 I’d at least have a career under my belt, much less a place to live by myself without roommates.
In grad school, my friends and I had conversations about a common dream we’d all had since we were kids: having our very own grown-up place. Our dreams differed slightly, varying from apartments in a dream city of choice to a small farm house sitting on about 50 acres that was still in driving distance to a dream city of choice. We’d all yearned for independence, privacy, and a magical bank account that kept our conservative-yet-adventurous lives possible. We may pass on designer duds splurges but that doesn’t mean we’ll forget Berlin is only a plane ride away. Alas, those idealistic dreams were just that: dreams.
I know I’m not alone in my struggle to find a full-time job in the career of my choice. I have friends I graduated college with in 2011 who didn’t go to grad school and are still looking for “career work”. It’s come to the point where a Bachelor’s isn’t enough to get a job – employers are now looking for Master degrees. The library field is basically at a standstill for hiring but that doesn’t stop universities from accepting us and spitting us out to the job market. In all fairness they do tell us to be open to relocation and look for untraditional jobs we can utilize our skills in. I have a problem with this – I am a purist at heart when it comes to wanting to be a public librarian. That is what I went to school for. If you want to tell your students to think outside the box for using our degree, you should tell them before they become paying students. One close friend I made did end up getting a job before graduation and I think we were all thrilled for her – we all knew how hard she had to work for it, and her success story kept our optimism flowing.
I have been actively searching for a library job since May 2013 and I graduated in August 2013. Every month I submit at least 15 applications, with a couple months even up to 30 applications nationwide. I won’t lie when I say I’ve felt sorry for myself on numerous occasions when I add up eight months of over 160 applications with only two interviews to show for it. I’ve always lived by the philosophy of “work hard, play later”, thinking that my college nights spent in my apartment studying/working on top of working two jobs would pay off with a career. I thought, they’ll see my work history along with my education and know I have a strong work ethic with exceptional time management! It’s that easy! Months later I’m still unemployed in the library field and work at a retail store an hour away from where I live. I can’t say that feeling sorry for myself has helped me at all other than sometimes you just need a good cry to get yourself back together again.
The thing about college is you have to get loans in order to go. I’m months out of graduation and still looking for work – these $350 invoices mailed to me don’t make me feel any better. I’m to the point of confusion and frustration that I bought a For Dummies book: Personal Finance in Your 20s. Trust me, when it comes to finances I am definitely at a Dummies level of understanding.
So far my favorite bit is when it discusses living within your means. They say how in your 20’s you probably won’t get a high-paying job so you need to live within your means and give an example along the lines of “If you make $40,000 a year and only spend $30,000 you can save a pretty good chunk of change. But if you make $30,000 and spend $35,000 you will always be in debt.” hahahahahahaha – oh, sorry, I was just laughing at the possibility of getting a $40,000 a year job.
I’ve definitely learned that you need to take life one day at a time. I’m fairly certain I’ll have a job offer soon, even if it’s just part time. Life is about readjusting depending on your changing circumstances. Maybe it wouldn’t kill me to live with roommates again, and I could save those hundreds of dollars a month on a real trip to Berlin every few years. Luckily I’m not completely detached from reality and do have a strong work ethic – I believe you should work for everything you want in life so you’ll truly appreciate it.
In my retail history, I’ve been surrounded by coworkers who are approaching/older than 30 sharing an apartment with roommates. Women who are trying to become lawyers, teachers, dentists, journalists, and even opera singers. There are success stories, and stories like mine that are still in progress. We know our plot, but we’re still working on getting through the conflict to get to the climax.
Now pardon me while I go buy some lottery tickets.