June 24, 2016.
That was day I happily quit my office job and said sayonara to my coworkers. I recall my projectmates being shocked that I announced my exit only two weeks prior. My previous projectmates knew this would eventually happen as I had told them all about the courses I was taking and expressed excitement in the material I was learning. Only a month before did I earn my Master’s degree in hopes of making a smooth career shift into a different field. Or maybe a career pivot.
At the time, I was so certain of myself and the direction I was heading towards. Before I began working the regular 9 to 5, I wanted to take a hiatus. And I prepared for this for several months before my last day in the office. Having worked three years full-time and schooling part-time, I deserved a nice, long vacation before diving back into the dreaded ocean of corporate life. I didn’t realize the career switch wouldn’t go so smoothly as planned.
Thirteen months. THIRTEEN MONTHS! As of this writing, it is August 1st. A year ago from today I was enjoying myself in Korea, Couchsurfing at an English teacher’s apartment, and being a tourist in Seoul with a new friend I had met back in Budapest. August 2016 was one of most exhilarating months of my life. Now it’s August again. Things have not gone to plan.
The plan was to quit job, travel, then start new career. The reality is that I am having trouble landing a job in the field I want. I have had help from several sources. Former classmates from high school and graduate school referring me to their companies. College career advisors. Folks I met at job fairs. I even randomly bumped into the President of my alma mater and he tried to help. Still no luck.
I have been trying to stay sane the entire time. Emphasis: trying. I bought $10 courses online to learn or relearn useful skills. I had spurts of #gymlife. I Netflix and chilled by myself and caught up on a number of shows. I vlogged at one point. I worked at four separate places part-time. I’ve gone to church. I’ve avoided church. I embraced mealtimes with friends. I stopped trying to hang out with friends. I spent nights talking to the ceiling and asking why. I have nights where I sleep soundly, confident that the job offer is coming really, really, really soon.
If I were to guess how many job applications I have submitted, I would say around 300. At the beginning of my search (in late September), I was very, very selective of where I applied. But now, I just really want a job for a company that fits my academic background. I just want to start somewhere.
With all of this anxiety and free time, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching. I’ve asked myself questions regarding the importance of a career and the concept of work. We go to college and we take courses and we earn a degree (really, a piece of paper) with the hope that this accomplishment will lead us to obtaining an occupation related to the major courses we took. What if I end up not getting into the field I want? What if I run out of patience? Am I a failure? How important is it for me to work in this field? Why is it important?
And it’s the “Why?” that I believe we should all determine an answer to. For me, my answer is that I really wanted to take part in improving the health of the people and serve in some capacity to bring the idea to a reality. It is a career I envisioned since my undergraduate days.
But I took a step back. A few steps back. I needed to remind myself of the bigger picture. What I didn’t include yet in this story is that, after all of my travels and meeting people from various parts of the world and not landing a real job in months, my worldview changed and my idea of a career and work also changed.
I am going to admit that my mentality shifted these past 13 months. I used to want to be that guy that could change the world with what he did. Maybe I would create devices that saves lives. Or performed research that led to important scientific discoveries. Yeah, that would be cool.
But I have found what is more important to me than work. That is my family and making sure they will be financially secure. That is being able to visit the Philippines as often as I can. That is having the opportunity to travel the world. That is being able to spend time with friends before we all become preoccupied with other aspects of life. I have a lot of respect for those who are true work-a-holics who are dedicated to their craft and put career first. I used to think that would be me. Not anymore. I just want to live a simpler life, make enough money, and relaaaaax. Is that a bad thing??
So what is my current status with job offers? I have a few I have been waiting for for some weeks now. Luckily, these are positions for companies related to my actual field. Suprisingly, after all of this job hunting, only in the past two months did I start gaining traction with job interviews for my targeted field. I should also add that I have been waiting for several months for a job offer with the government but, due to the hiring freeze (and possibly budgetary issues), I have been put in job purgatory for those positions. Basically, #FDT. You should know what that stands for.
And yes, I have also thought heavily about the unfortunate, yet very possible, chance that I do not get a job offer from any of these companies. I could do teaching. I could go back to software development. I could go back to school. I could keep applying and waiting. The point is, there is no dead end unless I decide to create one. I acknowledge how fortunate I am to live in this country in which I have choices. I still have so much life to live, so much to learn. What’s important is that I keep the big picture in mind. I have a lot I’d love to accomplish within a certain timeframe – unrelated to this career chase – which have not been discussed in detail in this post.
It’s been a rough job search. I know of examples of folks in my position who waited around a year to land a job in their field so I know my case isn’t unique. I’ll keep being patient and wait. I’m not worried about not landing a job, I’m just anxious to finally start.
Keep me in good spirits.