Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Job 2: Not This Time, Maybe Next Time

Though I’m posting this blog entry after having been hired, I wrote this post during the summer of 2013 during a discouraging time in my job search.

The two-year-old that I babysit for is a complete delight, and every now and then she teaches me something important. One day during lunch I was working really hard to get her to eat her tortellini. She didn’t want it and wasn’t about to be fooled by my coaxing. Instead she put on a serious face and told me, “not this time, maybe next time.” The only thing I could do was laugh and laugh.

When her mom got home I relayed the story and found out that this was a phrase from the family’s potty training book. The book tells stories of successes and close calls in a toddler’s efforts to learn to use the toilet. Its healthy, shame-free approach asserts that it’s okay to miss an opportunity to use the potty. If you don’t make it this time, you can do it next time.


I had a job interview recently for a fantastic position recruiting and coordinating volunteers and serving in administrative and supervisory roles in a refugee resettlement program. My experience working in resettlement and my degrees and my skills and my interests and my commitments and my passion for multicultural settings made me a great fit. I used my connections – someone knew someone at the organization and put in a recommendation – to make sure that my application materials were noticed. The interview went fine, and I had a great connection with the interviewer who was impressed with my experience and knowledge.

After I didn’t hear anything for a week, my hopes started to sink. After a week and a half I began mentally and emotionally disentangling myself from the role. I quit planning a new schedule and quit brainstorming program development ideas. After two weeks, I received my rejection letter and it was over.

Another difficult job search experience to add to the rest, and this one hit particularly hard because it seemed so promising. One morning as I was feeling discouraged and trying to recognize and honor the disappointment of another crushed hope, this phrase popped into my head: not this time, maybe next time. A helpful lesson from a two-year-old turned into a helpful mantra as the search continues.  

Job 1: The Search

Though I’m posting this blog entry after having been hired, I wrote this post during the spring of 2013 in the midst of my job search questions and frustrations.

I have seldom been as disoriented as during my extended job search. I’ve done all those things that one is supposed to do: I tailor each cover letter and resume to reflect skills and experience relevant to the opening. I network by phone and in person, meeting people who may be able to offer advice or connect me to organizations and managers who could hire me. I look broadly and apply widely, keeping an open mind and trying to be flexible.

Still, nothing. So discouragement creeps in. Then hopelessness. I can’t catch that vision that I used to have, that passion to work with people for social change. Instead I ask,
Was it worth it to go to graduate school? Why did I choose seminary? Was Chicago the wrong decision?

I think of all the things I should have done. I should have gone into a STEM field where there is a shortage of women instead of into helping professions where the market is saturated. I should have chosen my internships more strategically, picking opportunities that could lead to employment rather than opportunities that fit my interests. I should have done a part-time program so I could work full-time while I studied. I should have… I should have… I should have…

I struggle to fight off the negative self-talk as internal voices say that I am not good enough, I am not kind enough, I am not smart enough. If I were, I would get an interview. If I were, someone would hire me.

And so, the search continues.