JustJobs interviews professionals working in a variety of fields. The good folks there have given me permission to post some of their interviews here. So if you’re wondering what it’s like to work in a specific field, you might want to check in here frequently. I’ll be posting interviews as I get them.
This is the anecdote of one girl as she tries to navigate a world of job searching and interviews. Learning to dream big and prepare for the worst job search results, she discovers the keys to her job search success and her future career.
Several years ago, I graduated from college with a bachelor in history. Although I had originally sought to continue with my schooling and become a college professor, I found that as time went on the opportunities were barred from me due to a number of factors. Left with few options, I rebranded myself and started a job in the science and technology industry.
When people first meet me at my current job, they are normally surprised that my degree was not in biology. The field I work in is geared towards research and tissue culture—not your normal cup of tea for a history and economics major. This was not part of my original plan. Following college graduation, I had taken a year off of school to teach abroad. Although I ultimately found a job there, it was difficult work considering they were not interested in hiring other Asians for their expensive language schools. (We don’t have the ideal look for marketing brochures.) Luckily, I am only a quarter, so the other three quarters of my heritage won out and I landed a teaching job after all. For half of my week I worked with kindergarten children; for the other half I taught high school age kids.
As much as I enjoyed my experience abroad, a year was enough. Because of the way I looked, people expected me to know the language and were let down-or worse- when they discovered I could not understand them. After a year, I made the decision to return to the United States and try to find work amidst the worst of the recession.
Wanting a job, sadly, was totally different than finding one. I had considered going back to school at first, but with stiff academic competition due to the recession, scholarships and assistanceships were tough to come by. If I could go back in time, I would go back and start my masters directly after I finished my degree. Between the cost of a college education and the doubtful possibility of me being accepted, work seemed to be the only option. It was here that my experience took a turn for the better.
After hearing so many stories of people who were unable to find a job, I gave myself a difficult task: the goal of applying to 100 jobs. I reasoned that if I applied for 100 jobs, I would gain at least 5 job interviews and—hopefully—one job offer. Starting the application process with this outlook made me feel better: as long as I had not applied to 100 jobs yet, I had not failed. Twenty job applications and five interviews later, I had received three job offers. Two were working at area pre-schools and one was in working in a tissue culture laboratory. As much as I enjoyed working with children, I wanted a job that would allow me upwards mobility and challenges. With this in mind, I took the biotech job I had applied for online.
I have currently worked at my company for a year. By demonstrating a strong, consistent work ethic, I have risen to Assistant Lab Manager. The laboratory itself is an enjoyable work place. I never have to worry about what I wear or how I look and I spend most of my day plugged into an IPod. Although I get unusual looks from people who hear about my degree and my job, I greatly enjoy it. When I have spare time from my normal work, I go out to work in the green houses. It is not a traditional job for a girl by any means and it is not in my career field, but at this point, I would not want to work anywhere else.
My job search has taught me a few lessons. Over-applying for jobs certainly helped me to achieve the success I wanted in a reasonably short amount of time. Plenty of the jobs I found online allowed me to apply for them as I drank my morning coffee at home, making my job search an easy one. I also was lucky enough to apply for my current job. I did not feel like I was qualified to do it. With so many other people applying for work, I did not think that my application could possibly stand a chance, but it did. Allowing myself to dream big was the best thing I could have done and it led to my current line of work. The other thing that my job search instilled in me was the value of savings. If I had not gotten this job when I did, I would have been forced to take the first job that came along due to lack of funds. Keeping at least six months of living expenses is my current goal. Although it will take me a while to reach it, each month of savings is another month that I can fall back on in case of a lay off. The two months I spent in the job search process taught me a number of valuable lessons and showed me what can be gained by holding on to my dreams.
This is a true story as told to AsianHires.com, where you’ll find a collection of true work-life stories told by members of minority groups (including women) from a Product Merchandiser to an English Teacher.