I am absurdly underemployed. As one of the thousands of people who graduated college in 2009, I’ve been facing the recession down the barrel during a time when I’m trying to establish a profession for myself. In three years, I’ve been an intern (paid and unpaid), a babysitter, unemployed and, for the majority of it, a baker.
Here’s the thing about baking: there was a time in my life when I thought I wanted to open a bakery. My love for sweets made it seem like the perfect fit. So when I finally had an opportunity to work at a grocery store bakery, I was really excited. I have come to resent this decision–it meant taking shifts no one really wants to work (starting at 2:00 or 3:00 am) and resigning myself to no social life, since my friends are all at work when I have free time. The positive thing that’s come out of this is I realized I’m not interested in baking on an industrial scale.
I was ecstatic when I got my current job. I had been unemployed for a month and a half, so anything that would help pay the bills was a godsend. A little less than a year later, I was cut from 35 hours a week down to 12. This is when I began my current job hunt. A year later, I’m still looking. I’m so tired of the process and I have a few grievances to air with the job application process:
- Applying for jobs is stressful
The sheer volume of jobs I apply for makes the process incredibly time consuming. I’m constantly trolling Craig’s List, Mac’s List, Indeed, and Idealist. When I’m not actively applying, I feel guilty for slacking off. My anxiety levels have been through the roof over the last year.
- Knowing I’m your second choice doesn’t make me feel better
There have been quite a few jobs that rejected me after an interview, but were sure to point out that I was their second choice. When I hear that, it’s just rubbing salt in the wound. The message I get is that if I had been just a little bit better–good enough to knock this one other person out of the running–I would be done with job hunting, at least for now. It’s more upsetting to me than being flatly rejected. I can’t tell myself I just wasn’t what they were looking for. I was what they were looking for, but I needed to be just little bit better. If I had been just a little more charming (or knowledgeable, or whatever…), I would be employed. And knowing that is devastating.
- You want me to do what for free?!
I should have done more internships in college, when I could have almost afforded it. So many entry-level jobs now require experience I don’t have. During college I chose to work in food service for a paycheck, rather than at an office for free. Since at least 50% of people in my class had completed an internship by graduation, I was a step behind. Making up for that in this economy has not been fun.
So I’m angry. I’m disenchanted. It’s frustrating to know I’m smart and funny and even charismatic–I’m ready to put my brains and my experience to work! I’m tired of doing something I could have been doing 7 years ago, when I was 18. My job doesn’t require the Bachelor’s Degree I hold. (No surprise, though, those in Gen Y who are underemployed are more likely to be depressed than even their unemployed peers.) I’m working on my interview skills and trying to become a more interesting person in the meantime. Hopefully a charming upstart is just what the next employer will be looking for.
Minnie is available for dog walking, toilet scrubbing or any other demeaning work you’re willing to pay her for.