When I think about my long-term goals for APW, one of my dreams is to carve out more space to talk about Careers. If the collective wisdom of APW at times serves as a surrogate big sister, there is no area of my life where I more desperately needed a big sister in my twenties than in my professional life.
I remember standing in the NYU elevator the month of graduation, talking to someone with a liberal arts degree about their excellent, safe-sounding job that they were about to start in a few months. I was about to have my BFA, and had lined up a place to live in a dicey neighborhood in Brooklyn. That was it. No job, no resources to speak of. I can’t actually remember how I paid my bills that first month or two, though I do remember not having any real idea what a resume was supposed to look like, and realizing I’d never used Excel. I also remember what it was like to show up at 7:00am to sit on the floor of the hallway outside the temp office so I could be ready to take any job that came up last minute (and make a desperately needed $30 if nothing came up).
It seemed that most people in my life who were able to offer guidance had gotten a graduate degree, then a job, and with a few job changes here and there, kept on the same track till retirement. I, on the other hand, couldn’t even figure out what in the hell kind of graduate degree would be a good fit for me, or what track I should get on in the first place. It sucked. It sucked a lot. Now, at thirty-three, it’s easy to say that those ten years of working as a temp, a cupcake icer, a receptionist, a real estate agent, an intern, an operations manager, a temp again, a research associate, an office manager all make sense because I’ve created a job I like, but…is it ever that easy?
Increasingly, it’s not just art students, and people that don’t quite fit the mold who are lacking a clear and easy path to follow. It’s near impossible to nab a job that you’ll stick with for the next thirty years, and even people who took the safe route are ending up with graduate degrees in hand and no clear next steps.
So in Risk month, it seems fitting for an open thread discussing careers. Let’s be each other’s supportive big sisters and answer questions, share stories, and commiserate. Hell, maybe you’ll meet your professional soul mate in the comments, you never know.
Photo by Corey Torpie Photography