Wednesday, May 26, 2010

America's New Past Time

So as I officially finish my Master's in Public Diplomacy, I leave with a true sense of accomplishment and, well, mastery. Time and time again, for the last two years, I have been assured that my hard work, diligence (and expensive tuition for a BA and an MA) will pay off and I will have no problem finding a rewarding and lucrative career. So far, it seems like someone lied to me. The hours I have spent on cover letters and resume tweaking have resulted in maybe one call back. Hiring practices are getting more stringent and complicated; employers want a cover letter, resume, references, salary requirements (what if I've been a student and shamelessly been working for free or next to free hitherto?) Then the interview process involves at least 3 rounds, with projects that are assigned. And if you are lucky enough to get the job, much less actually have a human being look at your resume, out of the 700 other applicants, you get a measly wage.. because they can- your so grateful for actual employment. As my friend Paul Rockower observed, only in America is looking for a job, a job in itself. So true. Sending out hundreds of resume packets, calling every professor, former employer, internship for leads. Attending every job fair, emailing every friend of a friend, only to receive the infamous "Dear Candidate, Thank you for your application. We regret.." email. This while Sallie Mae sends me daily reminders that my loan deferment is about to run out. Tick, Tock. And all my friends, family, advice columns, professors offer me their advice, all of which I have heard a thousand times and has yet to help me get a job. Fortunately, my classmates, professors and alumni have been really accessible to me.  Trying oh so hard to be supportive and helpful, some suggest I go to law school instead. This is usually when I lose my patience. I thought going to college mean security. I thought grad school would pay off. Society told me if I work hard and get an education I would be okay!

I get some sick comfort in a recent NPR report that top law school graduates are having the same trouble finding jobs as I am. I am not alone. I know that I enjoyed my program much more than I would have enjoyed law school. The contacts I made, my wonderful classmates and professors, and a industry a truly believe in were all worth it. But it seems my friend Denise was right when she observed that our society tells young people that they have no choice but to be in debt for the rest of their lives. One can barely survive without at least a Master's degree today, and you'll never be able to pay for it.  I'm trying to remember that it's only been two weeks since I have graduated and it takes the average person six months to find a job in a good economy.  Welcome to America's new past time: job searching.

In case you are reading this and know of a job opportunity, here's my resume. ;)


Paul Rockower said...

Manifesto of the Happily Unemployed:

Take note, o' KKMPD

John Brown said...

Katherine: Had the pleasure (wrong word) to post your comments on today's PD press review.

Wishing you every success in your life & career.

Amelia Arsenault said...

If it's any consolation - ignore the annoying comments about how you should have gone to law school. My sister graduated from law school last May and only got a job a few weeks ago! The job market is picking up - it is just taking a while to filter down.

Katharine Keith said...

Maybe I would feel better about being unemployed if I actually got unemployment. Point taken though Paul. Can I stay in the MPD program? Cuz then I wouldn't have to feel guilty, I could life of student loans and I could be doing what I love in LA! Now THAT's the life!

Anonymous said...

Have you tried the State Dept's Career Entry Progam? Google it, I think you're an ideal candidate.

Most PD related work is obviously DC-based, and it's tough to get HR to look at a resume without a DC address on it. One of the disadvantages of one of the nation's prominent PD programs being in LA, of all places. :-/

Anonymous said...

I saw your post via John Brown's circular. I don't know exactly what you're looking for, but perhaps you might consider an open post with the British Council:

Good luck with your search,
Andrew Kneale

Katharine Keith said...

Thanks for all the good advice! Yes, the downfalls of looking for a PD career in LA... but I think the programs location has its advantages, one of which, I think, is being outside the DC bubble. I spent my summer at State and liked it very much but I think don't think that means PD is (or should be) irrelevant outside DC.