Hello hello hello readers.
David B. over at 20-Somethings in 2013 approached me a few weeks ago to do a short feature on my post-college life. He does profiles on millennials in the workforce and asked a few of us to talk about our career goals, job hunting, funemployment, etc.
You can check out the article on his blog here. Or, read my story below. (Or just ignore this post altogether. I’m fine with that too.)
I graduated from the University of Chicago in 2010 with absolutely no life plan. As a psychology major with vague interests in journalism, health, and event planning, there were many different directions I could take, and yet — nothing really jumped out at me. I applied for dozens of jobs but received very little support from the career center at school. Eventually, I abandoned all hopes of working and living in Chicago and turned my sights back on my hometown.
Applying for Job #1
The summer of my junior year of college, I interned at a small health company just outside of DC. I got the position through a friend of my mom and spent three months writing health articles for the two company blogs and attending health fairs. It was fun, and I was good at it. So, when I began my hunt for jobs in DC after graduation, I contacted them to see about any available positions. They were hiring! Two phone interviews later, I was a salaried program manager with full benefits and business cards on the way.
Working at Job #1
When I started work that August, I was unnerved by the dull repetitiveness of each day. I woke up at 6 am to fit in a workout before showering, changing, and gulping down breakfast. In the car by 8:15 to get to my suburban office park by 9 am sharp, where I worked under fluorescent lights in an airless cubby until at least 6 pm. I remember leaping from my seat at 5:01 after the first day and wondering why others weren’t getting up to leave…
I was lucky that my coworkers were young and fun, but the lifestyle of the workplace simply did not suit my personality. Every night, I would fall into bed mentally exhausted yet antsy from lack of activity. A 6 am workout does little to erase the wiggles from your legs when you sit for nine straight hours.
I did that for two years.
Moment of Clarity
Until I realized I was unhappy sitting at a desk.
It was not in my nature to drive to an office in the suburbs.
I did not like working for managers who underappreciated my strengths and were quick to criticize my weaknesses.
I did not like my time to be dictated by anyone other than myself.
When I was able to pinpoint my dissatisfaction with my job, it became infinitely easier to figure out what I DID want in a career. I wanted positive feedback and flexible hours and creativity. I felt grateful to be employed and didn’t feel entitled to job choosiness, so I stayed with that company far longer than I should have.
Though many millennials would have killed to be employed and have a regular paycheck, I simply couldn’t go through the motions another day. I started looking for other jobs — applying to any company that hinted at creativity, flexibility, and work/life balance.
I got lucky because I found the perfect job.
Working at Job #2
Today, I work as the social media specialist and content creator for an online reputation management company from the comfort of my couch at home. My new employer also supports me as I write my own blog unemployedkat.com and practice SEO and online marketing techniques for my personal brand.
I know not everyone will find such a great fit so early in the process, but if there is one piece of advice I would offer to confused millennials who are job hunting I’d say — figure out what you don’t like to figure out what you do.
In the end, I opted for flexible work hours over dental insurance and accepted a lower salary to eliminate my stressful commute. There will be drawbacks to any job; you just need to figure out what you can live with and what you can’t.
My current work situation isn’t for everyone, but it’s ideal for me.