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Career Angst - Help!


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I need advice, desperately.

 

I am a woman, turning 27 in two weeks. In June of this year, I graduated with an MA from one of the best schools in the US. While I really, really enjoyed going to school and excelled at it, I have no desire to get a PhD and teach college. The getting-the-PhD part isn't what scares me, it's the hyper-competitive academic job market.

 

In any case, the real reason I got this degree was because I wanted to be a more competitive candidate in my field. Well, I live in a city that isn't known for this field, so there are a limited number of jobs which are in any way interesting and/or on my career track. NYC, where all the jobs in my field are, is off-limits to me right now because I don't have enough savings, plus I have this pesky 50k in student loans. What I feel as though I need to do is to stay in my city (which is affordable) for the next two years, advance in my career, and then make the move to New York. Problem is, it's been about two months and I haven't found that job.

 

This job seems like a mirage. Since I graduated, I moved back in with my mother and took the same job I had when I was in college. This bothers the living sh** out of me. Even though I have had two entry-level jobs in my competitive field thus far and supported myself since college until I went back to school, even though I have an advanced degree, I can't help but feel like a horrible loser every single day. The "accomplishments" I've just rattled off ring completely hollow to me. I may as well be 22 again.

 

Some other background: I start a very part-time internship in two weeks. It was hard to get and will serve me very well in the future. I have started getting paid to write articles, something I've wished to do since I can remember.

 

So my question is this - what the heck should I do about my current situation? I don't want to stay in my mother's house forever, but I don't want burn through my savings. I would like to wait to find a good job, but that job doesn't seem to be coming. Should I hold out for the "right" job, or am I kidding myself? Should I just chill the f*** out and coast for a while? Should I temp? Wait tables? Help help help!

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If you're =really= serious about making it in "your field," GO TO NEW YORK. Bribe a friend into letting you crash on her/his couch 'til you find a place.

 

During your upcoming internship where you are now, =work= your network, set up interviews in NYC. Scrape together the money somehow - you'll probably need to go to the city a few times, just to get an unpaid or lousy-paid foot in the door, find a place to live and get a waitressing job nights & weekends to pay the rent. If you're not in NYC, you're not in the game and you're not going to end up there, ever. Sure, there are exceptions, but they have exceptional reasons for not being in the city.

 

If your school is "one of the best", then they have a career placement office and a kick- * * * * * alum network, with gazillions of graduates in top jobs in the city. Plug into that network. (Even alum networks aren't "free" though - when you ask for an informational interview, send a resume beforehand and a letter offering a couple of hours of your time doing something like internet searches, b/c you don't take their time for granted.)

 

Plus, being in the city will make you forget your ex completely, very fast. Every month you wait is delaying your own advancement. There are less-artsy options for employment (still writing-oriented) that'll pay off the debt quickly and from which you can move pretty easily back into your field. But you really emphasized that you went to a top-notch school, so you must know all of this already.

 

It's also okay if you DON'T actually want to make it big in your field, just have a decent job and less-stressed lifestyle. Only you can know that.

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finewhine,

 

It IS scary to leave your comfort zone, but.....to receive reward, some risk is necessary time to time.

 

If you really feel that you cannot do what you want where you are, I hugely advocate moving as soon as you are able to. Can you not find a position there BEFORE you move, by applying, and rent a room or something until you have saved up? Look at your school for connections...do they help alumni out with job searches at all for example?

 

But ultimately, you have to search your own heart and decide what is right for you.

 

Think of it this way, if you stay where you are another couple years....do you think you will still go to NYC, or still be a bit fearful of that moving on...you may never feel totally "financially ready" to move, and 50K takes a while to pay off...don't let the time pass you by while you can be building your career.

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"in order to catch the ball, you have to want to catch the ball."

 

To get the things we want, sometimes we have to go past our comfort zone. Fear is never really there when we're in the middle of the thing we want. It's a trick of the mind designed to keep us on the outside.

 

Reach for your dream. Take a lesser job in NY, sleep on someones couch. Plumb shamelessly every contact you have. Just don't take your eye off the ball.

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Finewhine there are journalism jobs all over the country. It sounds like you might not actually want to move to New York City but you feel like you have to move there, because that is where the best jobs are. Although, living in New York might help you build a bigger network just starting a journalism job somewhere will help even more. To start a journalism job you just need to send out resumes to places you would like to work with a portfolio. If you don't mind moving to D.C. or California I would recommend working with NPR. They offer a great work environment and great internships. The webpage to sign up for internships is link removed. As far as I understand they also have by far the most full time journalists of any network probably in the world. Another neat news orgnization I found is link removed. They let people submit news stories which they host on their own website. They can receive donations through paypal for their news stories. Most of the major news networks have locations in Chicago. I know it seems daunting to start this new chapter in your life, but it sounds like you are well qualified and enjoy doing it so you will have a leg up on a lot of people. Good luck.

 

By the way, I work in the radio and television broadcast industry on the engineering side. We are currently building a station in New York, but we build stations all over the country as well.

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Oh, I'm not in journalism. I'm in book publishing. Thanks for the thoughtful post, though! The same thing sort of applies to my situation, but not as positively as I'd like, unfortuantely.

 

As for everyone else - thank you! I always wonder about the whole, "The only thing to fear is fear itself" scenario. I also fear Ramen noodles and shoes with holes in them.

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Sorry it was my bad throwing Walking off with my journalism guess.

 

How much of an alum network does UChic have in publishing in NYC? If it's not enough to overwhelm you with contacts, then see what you can do before leaving Chicago to open up other networks, b/c it'll be easier to get clearance into Chicago chapters of some clubs than it would be in NYC. If it's your social scene at all then look into Jr. League - I don't know what timing you're looking at, but it might do you good to do some volunteer work if your internship isn't filling your week completely.

 

Are you a little afraid of NYC kicking your posterior? b/c you'll run into some attitude, and more than a few people who don't rate UChic near the top of their mental lists. Not saying that's an objective assessment, just that you'll run into people with other ranking systems in their heads, where what you've been banking on holds nothing for them and you need different coins. You need to find ways to bolster yourself up against that kind of stress, too.

 

But one step at a time ...

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finewhine, I seem to be paritially reading post a lot lately. Sorry about that. Anyways, if by book publishing you mean writing then I still think link removed might be a place you might want to post some short stories. People can make donations to you for your work link removed is an example. Several of my friends have been published authors. They just wrote books and submitted them to publishers for review.

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