Monday, April 24, 2017

I'm writing this from a bus

Lucky me, I managed to find a place to live. No, not the bus, but a place just a block away from where I currently live. I managed to negotiate the rent down $100. It has a parking space. It is very close to a grocery store, albeit probably the shittiest grocery store in the city. Unfortunately, I don't get to move in until April 30.

I've spent about 6 hours looking for a job at this point, cumulatively. I applied for four jobs online after writing a cover letter and having someone look at it. I pounded the pavement for 3 hours handing out resumes and making notes, and learning where else I should apply online. Seems big chains don't like people applying in-store these days. Of course, the benefit of applying in-store is that I don't have to have a cover letter.

How the fuck does one write a cover letter to work at David's tea? Especially how the fuck does one do this without any previous retail, hospitality, or service industry experience?

People have been making recommendations to me about where to go where they'll hire me without any experience. Earls, Boston Pizza, the Old Spaghetti Factory. And I've applied at all those places... in person. Despite the fact that the online applications say they only want a resume, the overwhelming advice of the internet (and my personal gut feeling) says that a cover letter is really a good idea. It's just so hard to explain why I think I have good customer service skills when I don't have any experience to back it up that's technically directly relevant. Thank god I bothered to start my own club (with the help of Carina, beautiful angel that she is (I say this because she really covered my lazy ass a lot this year as my co-prez)), because I feel like that looks really good. What evidence do you have that you're a self starter? Oh, only that I started something. It doesn't get much better than that.

But seriously, almost every job I look at says that prior experience is an asset. And if not that, then it's a fucking requirement. I keep saying I wish my parents had made me work a summer at a dairy queen or a store in the mall or something in high school, but the lab experience I gained helped me get MORE lab experience- more summer jobs, more research opportunities, and likely it will help when I look for grad school. But of course, lab experience peters out once you, y'know, graduate. Fuck, the number of additional things I could apply for if I was just continuing as a student next year... almost makes me second guess my decision to graduate on time.

So, this is the way it goes: if I'd gotten some service industry experience, all my lab experience would have been harder to come by (especially since my grades are, somehow, not competitive), and I would have defaulted to service jobs anyway. Since I didn't, I got a lot of good undergrad opportunities, but now that I'm about to graduate with a very bare-bones plan, I'm fucked. Nobody wants to hire someone who's in their early 20s who's never waited a table before, and I know if I was 16 they'd be more willing to overlook that. I mean, 16 year olds have to start somewhere, right?

The thing is, nobody has bothered to tell me what the real world is like. I'm forced to figure it out on my own, like this, like I guess everyone was. But nobody explained to me that a bachelor's degree in science in and of itself is nothing more than a stepping stone. I can't get a job in any scientific field with just a B.Sc. And nobody, and I mean nobody, bothered to mention that while the whole world was encouraging me to go into science because what are you going to do with a degree in the arts? Well, what the fuck am I going to do with a degree in genetics? I have a few options: 1) start my own company. 2) work in an unrelated industry 3) more school. The fact of the matter is that everybody has a bachelor's degree now. Why the fuck do you think it's so much harder to get into medical school?

I guess the point of this post is some advice: university isn't a mistake, but please, for the love of god, do stuff while you're there. If you take 6 years to get a degree, it won't fucking matter. Try and find some internships, or relevant work experience. Volunteer as much as you can, join clubs, take on exec roles, start your own club. And do stuff in the community if you can- volunteer, or even work. Don't just go to school and get good grades- that's important, but it's only one tiny piece. I'm glad I went to school; I don't regret getting a degree. I will find a way to make use of it, because my goal is to go back to school. But I am so, so, so glad that I pursued different and interesting opportunities while I was there. University is full of these things, these chances to get involved, they're literally thrown in your face and so easy to take, so TAKE THEM. Fuck, even my two years with the engineering group were good- it was Management Experience Lite (TM) and now that that same group just launched a satellite, it makes me look even better. Sure, I ended up leaving once I discovered it wasn't for me- but that's okay, because I tried in the first place. The club I co-founded this year might not have worked out either, but at least I would have tried and learned something. And it did work out! And now we have this amazing new group of execs ready to take on the second year of operations, and I get to say- look. My time here meant something. I did something here, I left a legacy at this school, however small. I helped fill a gap that needed filling, and I did it with one of my best friends. How many opportunities are there to do that in the real world? I'm about to find out.

In the meantime, my research project report is still due on Friday and I'm not quite finished. I'm hoping, though, that this recent uptick in blogging is a sign that I can get back to this in my time away from school. Perhaps I can just leave bizarre life advice here every couple of weeks.


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