Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Diary of the Unemployed: Part 2

You know when they say if you’re angry about something you should write a letter and never send it? This is one of those times. I would love to be able to go back to school, go to the administrators, and ask them one question… “Why did you set me up to fail?” Or maybe one more… “Why the fuck did you accept me in the first place?”… but common sense has gotten the better of me.

In his recent State of the Union Address, Obama talked about how further education is the keystone to a brighter future, and how important additional schooling is these days. I wish I could agree, because this hasn’t been the case with me. What little feedback I’ve heard from applications and interviews, when I don’t hear “completely not qualified” is “way too overqualified”. There has been no middle ground.

Alas, it would actually seem as if my additional grad schooling is making it harder for me to get a job in this economy. After working for eight years and holding a graduate degree, I have had no luck finding anything, even entry level jobs. Some companies have said “we will not even make you an offer because your experience warrants a higher salary than we can offer”. They could care less when I say I’d be willing to negotiate and accept a low salary. In this economy, companies are going for less educated workers that they can train, instead of experienced and educated workers that are perfect for the job.

The other feedback I get, when I’m not overqualified, is that I’m extremely underqualified. Not that I don’t have the necessary skills or abilities, but often that I lack corporate experience on my resume. As an entrepreneur, I worked years with myself as a manager. But for some reason, this seems to signal to companies that I would refuse to work in a group or under someone else. Yes, this is the feedback I get.

I don’t know how these trained and educated HR “experts” don’t realize that I always ALWAYS had to answer to someone. Yes, maybe I didn’t have a “boss”, but I always had clients. And things had to be done their way or I’d be “fired”. There was no unwillingness or inability on my part to work the standard corporate life, I just found greater success on the freelance, consultant basis. After trying it for a few years, it turned out to not be the lifestyle I wanted, so I put myself in a position to learn about corporate life to make myself more valuable to a company I could achieve more with.

So why is it I can’t find a job? I was one of the top students in both my undergrad and graduate classes (3.5 and 3.7 GPAs respectively). I ran a successful small business that allowed me to live a comfortable lifestyle in New York City. I applied for just about any internship or job I was qualified for, even those that were geographically undesirable. I attended info sessions for just about any company hiring within my skill set. I TAed for professors and held leadership positions in student clubs. I made lots of friends and connections with alumni. Do these sound like traits of someone who has been unemployed for a year and a half? And that doesn’t even count the months of school in which I was applying for jobs.

For one, it should have been a major warning sign that after my first year of grad school that I couldn’t find an internship. I had a lot of interviews but no success. Other students were getting these positions, and were being compensated well. I even started applying to unpaid internships, and got rejected from those. Something should have set off a flag when companies aren’t letting me even volunteer my time to help them. But the school just assured me that the economy was bad and things would turn around the next year.

Which it didn’t. And after a while, reassuring does nothing but make us angrier. A year passed and I was still looking for work. But this time it wasn’t like I had another year of school to look forward to. Nope, I was out on my own. No student loans to pay the rent. In fact, I had to start paying them back, on top of all my expenses. At least I had just enough saved up to support myself, but it really sucks just scraping by when most of your friends have signed six figure contracts. At this point, I’m done with all the self doubt and depression that comes with unemployment. I’ve done everything in my power to find a job. So that leaves me to question, why did my school let me get into this position??? I don’t like to point fingers, but at some point, I feel they need to take their share of the blame. No one told me, or gave me any such indication, that I might not have the right experience for an MBA job. If not having corporate experience is such a big deal to employers, why wasn’t it such a big deal for the school? Is it because I paid them a fuckton to take classes there? Were they struggling to fill seats? One student unemployed isn’t going to kill their rankings, so why not just let an unqualified applicant in? I’m sick of being the victim here, and I feel the school owes me an apology. A very expensive apology. I’m starting to wish they never accepted me in the first place.