Monday, May 4, 2009
In this morning's job hunt, I have been thinking of the major differences in having a job and having a career. I went to a top, New England, liberal arts university. I studied art. I was involved in campus activities. I had a near-full time job to support this education. But it was just supposed to be a job. Four years after graduation, I was still working there - managing, sure - but still working at this job that was just supposed to be what I was doing to pay the rent and buy supplies during my senior and post-bacc years. It was never supposed to be a career. It's just something I fell into.
And, when that job ended, I found another retail job and another and another - always at nicer and nicer shops, as a manager and then an assistant manager with the move to New York. But it wasn't supposed to be a career. And, to be very honest, my gentle readers, I hated it. Especially once I got to New York - it's a different world, and everyone knows you have to know the right people to get the right job. In lots of other places in the world, a retail career is honorable. The people who do it are smart and talented and generally well-informed. And, while that is often the case in America, it's not the way you are treated while working in a retail shop - especially, in my opinion, in New York City. In New York City, the people who come into the shops, especially the high-end shops, are, in general condescending and rude. Of course, I had some amazing clients. I wouldn't want to lump everyone together. But, in general, the ladies that came in, black AmExes flashing, were not the most respectful people in the world. Though many of them were less educated than me, they had married well and somehow that made them better. Their career was shopping, looking pulled together and popping out good looking heirs to the black AmEx card ...
So, I had this retail career. I fell into it. I never imagined it. It was physically and mentally exhausting. It gave me a crazy schedule and seriously cut into my social life. And when things fell apart (a long story for a different time) at my last retail position, I was done. I took a deep, scary breath. I signed up with a temp agency. I re-wrote my resume to emphasize education and the office skills that being a manager in a boutique can give you. And I temped a little and I got a job - a job that I thought would be my new career, as Operations Manager of a start-up cosmetics company and photo studio. And, though the hours were crazy and there were many things to complain about, I truly loved that job. I felt like, finally, I had found what could be a career.
And then they laid everyone off.
So I am looking for a job. And when I open up my browser in the morning and find postings, that's all they are. They are jobs. There is nothing out there that could be a career. Not for me, not right now. And I know these are hard times. And I know a lot of the big companies have hiring freezes. But, in my mid-30s, should I just be looking for a job? No. I don't think so.
So what's a girl to do in these times? I'm not desperate, not yet. I am collecting unemployment, I am crafting, I am looking, daily, for a job that will at least fit for now. And I am about to finish my first college class in twelve years. And I have fingers crossed that the fall semester will bring me at least one more class. And then? Perhaps, in my mid-30s, I will have found a career?