Adulting Is Hard: Career Choices

I went six weeks after graduation with no job offers. Not one. In that time I applied to about 25 positions across the East Coast. When I finally got one — hired on the spot — it was as a host in a new restaurant…which is not even remotely my field. But I took it, because I was bored and because I was running out of savings to pay for basic life necessities like rent and food. Not to mention my student loans. I took the job, with the private understanding that it would be a transitional, temporary thing to help me get by until I could find something closer to what I really want to do. (Full disclosure, I’m not entirely sure what I really want to do. But that is beside the point.)

Anyway, it’s 3 months later and I’m working 35-hour weeks (sometimes less, sometimes more) at this restaurant, where I have somehow ended up as the lead hostess/administrative assistant to both the general manager and the special events coordinator. I’m there 5-6 days a week — it was more in the beginning, I think my longest stretch was 16 days without a full day off — making $11 a hour. I’m good at it, I like my bosses and my coworkers. But at night and on weekends I’m still applying for other, more career-type jobs. Still no offers on that front.

…Enter a rep from the Literacy Lab, who finds me via the AmeriCorps website, where I still have a profile from back in undergrad. They send me a generic email, ask me to fill out an application to be a literacy tutor in Washington, DC. So I do. Think nothing further of it, because that is the way things have been going for me.

Then last week I get a call during my break between double shifts. It’s the rep, asking to set up a quick phone interview. We set it up for this past Monday evening. It goes well (despite the dodgy cell phone service due to a thunderstorm here) and she asks me on the spot to email her with my availability for a final interview. We arrange it for next Friday morning (eight days from today).

But wait.

…Enter my boss this morning, who comes up to me and offers me a position as an official admin/office assistant. It’s essentially a management position, with a pay raise and benefits like free meals and a key to the office where I would basically be running the show in the mornings until he gets there. I tell him I’m very grateful for the offer, but I will need a few days to consider it because I have a final interview for another job next week (which I had mentioned to him in passing last week) and I don’t want to accept and then have to quit in two months to go to this other AmeriCorps position.

Assuming the best-case scenario and I am offered the job at the Literacy Lab, here’s a pros and cons list of both offers.

AmeriCorps:

  • pro: gets me to DC, which would make it easier for me to find another job/internship there once my service is over next year; great networking opportunities during and after my service
  • pro: education award for my student loans at the end of my service; benefits are included (which I will need when my dad’s insurance kicks me off in November)
  • pro: gets me back to working with kids instead of stupid adults where I have to smile even when they yell at me about parking meters
  • pro: closer (if not completely compatible) with my desired field of IR/politics/foreign service/whatever
  • con: I would have to move again on a very tight budget, to a city I’ve not visited for over a decade (semi-pro: I have friends there and family nearby)
  • con: it doesn’t pay that much (semi-pro: I have a second, part-time online job lined up to start in September regardless of what happens with either of these)

Stove&Tap:

  • pro: a raise ($15 an hour) and more responsibility (but not so much that I would be drowning in it), with guaranteed hours and free food
  • pro: it’s comfortable and secure and I could do it until I find a job in my field (someone has to call me eventually, right?)
  • pro: I don’t have to move again for a while (since I’m living with a friend, my rent is insanely cheap) and I’m finally sort of getting used to living here; plus, Marie just moved to Philly and Marc is moving here in September
  • con: I really dislike living in the suburbs and I don’t really have any friends around here (see my other post)
  • con: I am terrified of getting complacent and stuck in an industry that I know won’t fulfil me professionally or personally…I didn’t go to grad school in the UK to end up in the restaurant business

So…what to do, what to do. Obviously I can’t give my boss a final answer until I find out the results of my interview, which wouldn’t be for another two weeks at least. However I don’t want to put him off for too long, because that’s rude and unprofessional. I’m at an impasse, with nowhere to go at the moment. And I hate that — I hate the waiting. I’d rather just make a decision and deal with the consequences and outcomes. But I cannot in good conscience pick one or the other without all the relevant facts.

I guess I’m going to do what I always do, for now, since I can’t do anything else.

Call my dad. And call my best friend. Maybe not in that order.

Keeping Myself Honest

I’ve been thinking a lot about my bucket list lately. At the moment, it looks something like this:

  • Get a college degree (including study abroad)
  • See the pyramids (visit Egypt)
  • Learn a second language (with relative proficiency)
  • Swim in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Fall in love, get my heart broken a little, move on
  • Learn to enjoy avocados (including guacamole)
  • See John Williams direct a live performance of his music (i.e. the music of my childhood)
  • Go to Hogwarts with my sisters 

Look at all those items crossed out. I’ve been fortunate in the last decade or so. If I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t really have any regrets about any of that. But I’ve been thinking that I don’t really need a bucket list in the sense that people usually mean it. Generally, a bucket list means…possessions acquired, destinations visited.

I’ve just got…things to do. Things like:

  • Be a better sister and daughter than I was yesterday, last week, last year (always in progress)
  • Be honest and straightforward whenever possible…don’t give or take bullshit, but remain sensitive to people and situations
  • Be more body-confident, including figuring out things like what makeup works for me and how to wear high heels for 6+ hours if necessary (partially complete, but also an ongoing struggle)
  • Make the world a nicer place than it was yesterday, even if that means giving a homeless person a dollar or telling someone I like their outfit
  • Keep an educated mind at all times; stand for what I think is right, but be open to debate and change; do not open my mouth on a subject unless I have something constructive to say
  • Never, ever again let anyone shame me for being a nerd
  • Tell my friends and family I love them (more often)
  • Pay off my student loans…hopefully while doing something that I enjoy
  • Get back to (or exceed) the level of happiness and mental health that I had during 2014-2015

So I’m writing these things to do here, to keep myself honest about them. The internet is forever, right? So this will be here to remind me. It won’t be easy. It won’t be pretty. I probably won’t ever cross these off this list. But I think I can have a damn good time trying.