September 22, 2010 by Leah
The number one thing I could do to help get us out of debt quickly would be to get a job. I have been looking for a job in the Long Beach/Los Angeles area since late March, when I applied for a financial position at a utility company. This company turned out to be quite unique (actually it was a public entity) in that they emailed me at various crucial points in the process, including: when they received my complete application; when they started interviewing; and when the position was filled. I believe I even got a brief personal note from the supervisor of the open position letting me know that my not being in Long Beach yet was a detriment but that my qualifications were excellent, and wishing me luck on my job search. Then things got a little trickier.
Part of this is my fault – I haven’t been treating the job search as a 40-hour-a-week job because I’ve been too busy traveling and having fun and sponging off my husband (or being stressed out and uncertain about housing or driving the dog 30 miles away to his veterinary specialist or having slow-food emergencies). I would say that, since March, I’ve applied for about a dozen jobs in earnest (sought out the organizations and the job openings, submitted resume, cover letter, and any other requirements) and another 20 in ennui (click the button to forward resume to an employment agency courtesy of monster.com or careerbuilder.com). Of those applications I actually put effort into, I have had the courtesy of an email notification that my application was received from a handful, if that. It’s kind of appalling.
I also went and signed up with a temp agency when we were still living in the hotel (we lived in an extended-stay hotel for our first six weeks in Long Beach). My “rep” has offered me four jobs, the best of which paid $18 an hour and all of which were glorified (or not) data entry positions and not in Long Beach.
Obviously I’m an ingrate and didn’t take them, but I have several years of experience and a master’s degree, which is not bad for someone who just turned 29. I don’t want to be sitting in a cubicle giving myself carpal tunnel and watching the clock in some crappy industrial park miles away from where I live my life. I want a job that will make giving up my current lifestyle seem worthwhile. I want a job that will make me feel like the company, the community, and I are all benefiting from my signing on.
There have been job opportunities during this search that have actually really interested me. All of these have been professional (in fields like finance, marketing, ticketing, and management) and in either the non-profit or the public sector (except for a cool-sounding Big Oil job – for which I later discovered I’d sent a cover letter with a typo, which I assume was immediately trashed for that reason). The biggest heartbreaker was a fantastic opportunity where I got three interviews in quick succession (phone, in-person, in-person with a team) and never heard from the organization again.
It feels horrible having no closure from these people. I’m left with lingering doubts – and even guilt. It’s like I had a one-night stand with an internationally recognized arts organization. I’ve been cut out of the final round for other jobs, but when the person doing the hiring calls to let you know that he has hired someone else, and you have a pleasant chat and there are no hard feelings, it’s much less awkward when you run into each other at Kaladi [Brothers Coffee] the next morning.
Other people’s bad behavior aside, it’s taken me a few weeks to get over this one, but I’m ramping up the job search again. I’m trying to spend at least some time on at least three days a week looking for jobs, and I’m unearthing some openings. I’m also getting all the freaky emails from firstname.lastname@example.org promising me no up-front costs (seriously?) and a guaranteed $2500-per-week salary for working a few hours from home. The job search is such a bizarre time in one’s life.
My last major job search was directly after college. Summer of 2003 (if anyone remembers THAT dismal job market) in Manhattan. My parents had given me some money to start off with, but after dozens of applications sent and a few encouraging strings of interviews (apparently my shiny new English degree overqualified me for being a paralegal in a Midtown office) I ended up getting a temporary data analysis job thanks to the sister of a friend. I was completely miserable, but I was determined to stick it out and make it in the city. Long story short, that didn’t happen. I decided grad school (a master’s in ethnomusicology, specifically) was the way to go and moved back to Anchorage. Which is where I found myself six years later, with some great professional experiences and an MBA under my belt. My, how plans change.
This time around, the job search is really different. Aaron and I are obviously doing just fine, financially, in that it is clearly entirely possible for us to live beneath our current means (particularly once I stop scheduling trips). We are living with the specter of a lot of student loans, but if we don’t pay them off before we have our first child (which was kind of the original goal), the world won’t come to a screeching halt. The biggest motivators for me finding a job now are a) I’m a bit bored and have no friends here, b) I’ve been feeling a little wobbly, psychologically, without a professional identity, and c) the more time I spend unemployed, the harder it’s going to be for me to get a job. I’ve been worrying that I won’t find a job here and then I’ll accidentally get pregnant and then by the time I’m applying for jobs again I’ll have been out of the workforce for a decade.
So, I’ll keep plugging away at the job search, but I think at some point I’m going to need to go freelance (as what, I’m not sure) or start my own business so I’m not tied to a traditional job. The problem is that Aaron is also no fan of being a wage slave, and right now it’s his cushy government gig that’s allowing me so much freedom.