(Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the “real world”.)
If you’re lucky (or if you majored in something business, math, or science related), you’ll make it through the harrowing process of applying to jobs, not make a fool of yourself or your ancestors during the interview, and actually land your first real job.
Against all odds, this even happened to me.
Want to know how I got the job I have now? I replied to a post about an internship for a local business and more or less manipulated them into giving me a full-time job.
However, as a result of being untrained, a brand-new graduate, and lacking in experience, I make a miniscule amount that isn’t even be enough to sustain myself after recently taking on my own expenses.
I am poor, I am discouraged, but I am stumbling through these first steps into the world with mountains of bills and a yoga mat with which to calm my anxiety.
My job also has next to nothing to do with my major. The most writing I do in a work day is limited to boring ad copies about discounted balloons and formaldehyde-free nail polish.
Somehow, the writing skills I honed apparently transcend the English/Communications gap and make me qualified enough to undergo sporadic training in search engine optimization, social media, and various forms of online advertising and someday take over all of my boss’s client cases.
I’m also mysteriously expected to be an expert on these subjects without having sufficient training because both of my bosses have other businesses and are literally in exotic, far-off lands every other week. I spend almost all of my days completely alone in the office.
Not only do I not have any coworkers, but I also, as a result, have very few friends as a result of living in a new city (but more on that later).
I’m also the only woman in the entire company (which technically isn’t that dramatic because it consists of three people), so when my bosses are there, it’s nothing but raised toilet seats and cigar talk.
What I’ve learned in my first month and a half at my new job is that because you, as prospective future graduates, have no experience, your employers will completely and utterly take advantage of you. For example, I don’t get benefits, I don’t get sick days and I’m expected to do an enormous amount of work for very little pay.
It’s not fair, but life’s not fair.
I’ve also noticed that even when you do finally sink your teeth into corporate America, people just seem to expect that you’ll have another job on the side. People will be like “Oh, you just have the one full-time job? Well why don’t you do some freelancing?” or “You should get a waitressing gig or go back to working part-time at Auntie Anne’s. You could use the extra money.”
Yes. Yes I could. But I am proud.
I take pride in the education in which I invested four years of my life, and some part of me refuses to take a job that is so far beneath what my education has prepared me for.
I spent the entirety of my teenage years filling fountain sodas, arranging underwear in rainbow color order, and dealing with endless grumpy (and sometimes downright crazy) customers. When I finally clutched the padded folder that held my diploma, I vowed to never again seek employment in a minimum-wage retail setting.
Never. (No matter how many free pretzels I miss out on.)
Photo: Hey Paul Studios (Flickr)
Kim Dreese is a recent graduate of Lycoming College, where she foolishly majored in Creative Writing and minored in Psychology and Media Writing. Her newest hobbies include blogging and complaining about being an adult. She works at a small advertising firm in Wilkes-Barre, PA. You can follow her daily rants on Twitter at @lyco13.
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Last reviewed: 6 Aug 2013