Friday, January 10, 2014

New Beginnings into the New Year

Since the summer my main goal has been to find a job that fits my aspirations and attitude about how I can help make the world a better place...blah, blah blah. Pretty noble idea but in practice it takes hard work rather than just passion for what you ultimately want to happen = be employed!
I've heard and seen a lot of my colleagues before and after graduating college get in a funk. As much as I empathize I can't help but feel a twing of annoyance. There's is overwhelming mentality that nothing is possible when it should be the exact opposite. It derives from this idea that just because our economy and employee-employer dynampics has changed in the last decade that the world has turned against us. But the truth is this is how it is for those of us "starting out," the twenty-somethings, recent grads or high school educated that have been working for a fews years (or not).  In my experience I've seen and heard more excuses and haven't seen enough action. You do have to think outside the norm and it requires a little more effort than what is "obvious" to 'most people.' Sending out cover letters and resumes via email isn't going to cut it and neither is waiting for a inevitable negative response if you aren't doing something else of substance to elevate your applicable status. 

This is not to say that it isn't difficult and stressful because it is, VERY much so. In the last six months I've had quite a few outbursts of anger and tears but when I remember to put my situation into a broader perspective, I realize that I am really trying and putting myself out there, I'm trying everyday to make new contacts through networking or casual interactions with people OUTSIDE my HOUSE and BEDROOM, making endlesss cold calls, volunteering with organizations that are doing what I want to do professionally or have a mission I strongly believe in, etc, etc.

Its not going to be easy and I think for most young people or people who recently lost their jobs have no idea that they have pigeon holed themselves into thinking one particular way instead of being open to the bigger picture. It was challenging the first month out of school after embarking on an amazing two week 4,700 mile roadtrip cross-country to only ended up miserable in New Brunswick, shaking up with five immature college students in a "boarding house" and a job working with people a few years out of college who haven't experienced much outside of college. Poor management, lack of maturity, disrespectful attitudes and ill mannered behavior I was fed up and came home to Jersey City after two months. First "failure" post-graduation and it seemed to get perpetually worse after that. I kept applying for jobs the way I had been - online - and slowly branching to cold calling, sending my materials via mail, and other ways of connecting with organizations posting positions online. In the meantime I was writing and editor for a blog that I thought was a "hired" to help a start up magazine get exposure and maybe get paid to write. Didn't last long considering a number of the reasons I had left the job in New Brunswich seemed to reappear with this new "job" - turns out was an internship which was never brought to my attention in the interview process. So after two hits in a row that was reason to give up right? Wrong. 

I continued to seek other opportunities within my community. I volunteered with the League of Women Voters helping them with planning and organizing an event that led to meeting a contact that hooked me up with a temporary position at The Brennan Center for Justice. In addition to volunteering with the League, I applied for to be a member of a Development and Fundraising Committee with a Dress for Success affiliate called Suits for Success in Jersey City. The Development Director saw great potential and offered me the position immediately. The perk for her was that I helped them with their annual Gala before my official work for the Committee started. I also helped out at my church: teaching Sunday School, volunteered for the Silent Auction at the GCVV Cathedral Arts Festival, joined a small prayer group, serving the homeless and hungry at the Breakfast Plus Program and joined the choir for a few events. In the mist of doing all the craziness and constant changing/evolving/reinventing myself in the process, I landed an interview for a more permanent position and was offered the job. It did take them over two months to request an interview but the point is I never gave up. 

With all that being said my temp position as Development Associate with The Brennan Center for Justice (BC) was such a good experience both in the field and to see how a well organized and successful nonprofit works internally. Through my horrific experience canvassing over the summer opened my eyes to the need for people like myself that can get others to contribute financially. While at BC I pushed myself to overcome the uncomfortable feelings that araise when something is new and put myself out there. As a result, I learned a lot and proved that I am unique.  Luckily for me, within the 1 1/2 months I was conducting gift processing, "interviewing" staff, making new contacts and investigating both the general and specific aspects of fundraising I found my calling. Not to mention the working environment at BC helped solidify what I really need to succeed and be inspired to do what I want to do: supportive co-workers. I'm so gratefully to have met and work with everyone on the development team at BC: Thanks to Anna, Vivien, Jen, Jaemin, John, Diana and Charles for such a great experience!

Fortunately for me, I started my next job at the Community Health Law Project. Ironically - and unplanned or expected - I landed my first two positions within my field: political science. But the best part about the journey after graduation up to this point is that everything is really up to me. I have control over how I deal with my decisions and that I also learned that when I don't have control that if I'm open I can learn so much more than if I let fear steer the wheel.

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