You guys, I am so fucking tired of feeling worthless because I don’t have a full time job.
More than that, I’m so fucking tired of feeling like it is going to be a long uphill battle before things get better.
As you all know, I’ve been employed part-time or doing contract work since I graduated in March of this year. Some of it has been very fulfilling work–I really do enjoy teaching, and have found ways to enjoy it even when the material in question is something awful like SAT prep, and I’ve had a few interesting freelance gigs–but it isn’t enough.
Now that the busiest part of the year for test prep has passed, I’m back to barely scraping together enough hours to pay my rather minimal bills, and sometimes missing that mark altogether. I spend a huge chunk of my time chasing down new work: I am completely set up to take private tutoring jobs online and in-person, I regularly apply to new tutoring agencies/afterschool centers/etc, and I badger my supervisors at PrepNow as often as I can within reason, and I taught a tutor-training workshop for them just yesterday. But despite my efforts, I’m running hard just to stay in place.
And frankly, tutoring was never supposed to be the long-term plan, at least not in this unstable, messy, never-know-if-I’m-going-to-get-enough-hours-this-month kind of way. I wanted, by this point, to have some kind of job with a completely reliable paycheck. But as much as I hate to admit it, I’m just not getting any closer to that. I told myself that if this was still so unsteady and frustrating by the end of the year, I’d change course somehow… and it’s starting to look like that’s pretty much the case.
Outside of tutoring, I regularly apply to just about any full-time position that is remotely suitable… grant writing internships, content writer gigs, internet researcher jobs, administrative positions at science-y or education-related companies, teaching or curriculum-writing jobs, and so on. I’ve pretty much completely given up on the usual suspects for those short on skills/experience–retail/food service gigs–because I got tired of complete radio silence and/or assertions that I’m both “overqualified” and “lack experience”. I also have given up on arguably the only job that my education technically prepared me for–lab technician–because I also never got callbacks on those jobs, probably because the last lab job I had ended poorly and my ex-boss is a well-known young superstar researcher at UCLA, but also because I’m hardly unique in being an advanced-degree-holding scientist out of work.
Usually those full-time job apps go nowhere, but occasionally I get an interview. And often those interviews go very well… and then nothing comes of it. Just last week, I interviewed for a content-writing position that seemed like a perfect fit. The interviewer and I got along brilliantly, which I took as a good sign as she would have been my direct supervisor. And technically, it isn’t too late for that job to come through, as I’ve yet to receive a “no”….buuuuut last Monday they said I’d hear “by the end of the week” and when that didn’t happen and I checked in by email yesterday, I was told I’d hear by “the end of the day”. Again, nothing. Best-case scenario, I’m clearly dealing with a company that doesn’t care about this position or that doesn’t know what they want, which is bad enough, but more likely I’m just out.
I really want to be a hopeful, optimistic person about all this.
I want to say that it’s okay, the next job will work out. I’ll get more experience, and eventually someone will want me. Or I’ll make up my mind to pursue a path that involves more schooling, and I’ll start down that path and THEN I’ll have a job. But realistically, I spend so much of my time and emotional energy chasing down scraps of income and applying for/interviewing jobs I probably won’t get… that I’m not actually doing any of the things that will get me out of this hole. Despite repeated promises to the contrary, I’m not writing a science blog. I’m barely even managing to post here, because I don’t want to just get on here and whine and I feel like that’s all I have to offer a lot of the time.
I feel like I’m being constantly bombarded with reasons to despair. There is a steady stream of bad news about the economy, unemployment, the state of science funding, the state of education funding… all of which make me feel like even if I totally had all my shit together, I might STILL be fucked. Adding to that a daily dose of begging for work… is it really surprising that I’m worn out?
So anyhow, I didn’t write this post just to whine. I have a plan, sort of. It may not get me any closer to stable employment, but it just might make me start to feel like a useful human being again. Maybe.
Provided the above-mentioned content-writer job fails to come through, I am going to spend the next month not trying to get new work. If I get handed new students or freelance work through any of my existing gigs/relationships, I’ll take them. And if any full-time job opportunities that I’d actually be excited to take fall into my lap, I’ll go ahead and apply. But otherwise, I’m going to spend my time producing content.
Yes, this was what I was supposed to be doing anyways. I’m not actually creating any new free time in which to write, I’m just making the conscious decision to stop spending that time fretting about not having enough work and scrambling after any whisper of work that passes my way.
The goals here are pretty modest. I just want to have a few more decent clips to send people for writing-related jobs/gigs/internships/etc. And I know that a month isn’t a very long time and at the end of it I may very well have to go back to applying for everything. And most likely, come January I will be frantically applying for summer internships and/or academic programs for next year.
But honestly, I have to try SOMETHING different. I only really get one shot at this, because the TINY financial cushion I am harvesting to pull this off will be depleted very quickly.
Here goes nothing…