So it turns out that despite my optimism in my post about careers for English graduates, I have not been able to find a career that utilizes my skills yet. In fact, I haven’t been able to find any work at all.
The initial factor which I blamed for my lack of success was inexperience. In my first article, I mentioned volunteering writing to get the experience necessary to get hired. However, even to volunteer to be a proposal writer, years of experience are required, and (I know this is my own damn fault) I have a really hard time justifying working for free, especially if I’m not sure if it will actually get me anything. All of the writing jobs available in my area right now require 5+ years of experience. Does that mean I’m just going to be trapped in retail for the next five years while volunteering to write one article a week ? I don’t think so.
The inexperience factor has been joined by two other factors which I didn’t recognize before: the economy and my location. I live in Alberta, the Texas of Canada, and when oil went, so did the rest of the jobs. There are no entry level jobs for technical writers or copywriters. Literally. There is nothing out there that doesn’t require at least five years of experience, but even if there was, living all the way out in Bumbleton, which is outside of the city (because God knows there’s no jobs in Bumbleton), is also a huge obsticle to leap over. The city is so big that if I needed to get all the way across it, it would take me two hours, so even if I somehow got a job on the far side, I could be driving for a total of four hours every day. Although it wouldn’t be ideal, I would take what I could get; however, on the few interviews that I’ve had, employers seemed to recognize that the distance wouldn’t be ideal for them either (What if my car broke down? What if I slept in? What if they needed me to quickly come in and fix something? etc.).
These are only the three factors I’ve identified which are inhibiting my success at finding a career; it’s very likely that there are even more. Thus, after a few months of desperate searching, I decided that instead of a career, I would try to find another retail job as my current job wouldn’t give me more that two shifts a week.
After all of my failure at finding a career, the real self-esteem shredding kick in the balls is that I haven’t been able to get another retail job either. “You have almost a decade of retail experience; why can’t you find work in retail?” Great question, alter ego!
It’s because I have a degree.
How frustrating is that? I mean, I get it. No one wants to hire someone with a degree for a job that usually doesn’t even require a high school diploma because they’re probably not going to stick around very long. They’re right, but it doesn’t make it sting any less. Lying on my resume and saying I didn’t actually have a degree repulsed me because 1. telling lies to get things isn’t cool and 2. do I really want to work in a place where I have to lie about the last four years working my ass off? That should be an asset, not a deterrence. At first I said no to hiding my degree, but as the months went by without any prospects, I began to consider it. However, by the time I was desperate enough to do it, my current job seemed to realize that I wasn’t going to bugger off anytime soon, so now they give me three shifts a week. It’s better than nothing.
The last straw in my job search was getting “hired” by a clothing store, Sirens when I still had my degree on my resume. The manager stood me up for the interview, but when we finally met and he gave me a hiring package, I was so excited. It was a pay cut from my current job, but I just wanted something new! They said that they’d call me with information about my first shift later in the week, and I waited diligently for a week with my phone attached to my hand. They never called. I began calling them numerous times to try and get a hold of the manager, who was always busy or away, and I was told that I’d get a call back, which I never did. Eventually, I gave up.
It was at this point that I made a revelation: if I couldn’t even get a job in retail, I needed to go back to school.
I’m now set to start in a medical office administration program in the fall.
Don’t get me wrong, I love school and I’m excited to go back, but this whole experience has been a disillusioned nightmare.
There’s one last thing which I need to ask myself after all of this failure, do I regret being an English major? No. Never. I wouldn’t trade those four years of my BA for anything. Studying literature is what I am meant to do; I know this. It may have landed me in a rough spot right now, but it’s built the foundation for when I go back to get my masters or a law degree, and enabled me to get TESL certified (which I’ll eventually do) and teach abroad. It will get me a career; it’s just going to take some time.
In hindsight, the only thing I would have changed is doing this certificate program before I did my degree. I would have escaped from retail years ago, and I would have never felt this indescribable low of being educated, but “unemployable.”