things I know: a little bit about John Updike, and nothing about the economy

We are going full stream of consciousness this evening, folks.

I am very burnt out with regard to my job hunt. I realize that feeling burnt out is just part of the job-hunt territory, much like working in the service industry. When it comes to both, you know going in that feeling burnt out isn’t an “if” but a “when” situation. I can safely say that most people accepting a full-time serving position (in NYC, mind you) are not thinking “…you know what will never get old? This!”

I was riding a nice wave of motivation and productivity for a good few weeks with little to show for it, aside from a lot of additions to my “jobs applied” Google sheet. A law firm toyed with me a bit and then a hotel, but I couldn’t hook either of them. To tell you the truth, I think part of the problem is that a large part of me still doesn’t want the jobs to which I’m applying. I’m still a bit confused as to what I’m trying to do, here.

What I’m realizing is that the job posts I’m excited to see and would be fired up to apply to, I can’t actually apply to because I’m lacking the necessary educational background and/or experience. The other day, my dad told me about some study revealing that men are more likely to apply to jobs where they don’t meet the qualifications than women are. Let me just say, I do believe in pushing for the things you want, and I’ve definitely embellished on my experience at times in the past when a job seemed too perfect. We have to acknowledge, though, that there are times when you really do need a specific background to apply for a job. Some examples:

  • working at an animal rescue (no veterinary skills, college-level science education, or experience working at a rescue? welp!)
  • environmental conservation (unless you want to try to get people to sign petitions on the street, the other jobs aka the ones I would want involve at least some amount of environment science background, and/or field work)
  • videographer (I have no camera, software, extremely limited software skills, and no portfolio. I know what you’re thinking: well then, fix that! …Friends. I would love to. That stuff is e x p e n s i v e. I need a job just to afford to prepare for that job.)
  • anything in a library (there’s a specific masters you need for that, too. the heck!)

These are just some examples off the top of my head, but I’ve spent the better part of the last three years sorting through all sorts of job openings, trying to figure out how to spin my experience to show these hiring teams “look, I may not have exactly what you’re asking for, but I’m a hard worker, I’m good with people, I believe in going the extra mile, and I’m very willing to learn.”

Anyway, my point wasn’t to be complain-y about the job hunt, here. There are as many exciting aspects as annoying ones, especially those magical moments when I come across something that I feel fits who I am and the way that I work.

My point was to wonder out loud…why are liberal arts degrees even a thing?

Okay please stay calm, liberal arts pals. I have a liberal arts degree. I had the best time in my English classes, seriously. They shaped the way I read, process, write, perform research, and more. I hated the core classes I was forced to take, like marketing, math (even that one math class for English majors was a struggle) and microeconomics. Those classes were the most challenging ones for me, and I definitely did not have a “knack” for any of those subjects the way I did for writing literary research papers.

In retrospect, I should’ve pushed myself to study something that didn’t come easily to me. I know I would have still loved reading, writing, the arts – you name it. My grades wouldn’t have been as good, but I would’ve learned things I can’t learn without guidance from professors.

Wouldn’t it make sense if we went to college to learn how to do something that you can’t learn how to do without college?

(the radical part) …and if those were the only degrees offered?

Imagine I had a biology degree to fall back on right now while I pursue writing endeavors. Or had a degree in accounting. Computer science. Information systems. (Is that something? It sounds like something.) I’m willing to bet I’d at least get more interview offers when I send out for jobs, because having degrees of this sort means that you have entire special skill sets that other people (like us English majors) don’t even know exist.

That’s gotta be super handy.

Maybe I’m making a terrible point, or making a decent point terribly, but take it from someone who is faced with “profiency in [blank, blank, and blank] required” on a daily basis. It used to be Microsoft Office, Google Suite, and maybe something to do with Excel specifically. There’s so much more now, it’s insane! The proactive person in me would try to find a way to learn how to use different software programs via YouTube videos or attempt to purchase that software on the cheap and self-teach, but this still brings me back to the same point: if I end up having to put in this extra work anyway, what is this degree I currently have really doing for me?

Could/should someone have warned me that I chose a luxurious degree that should really be reserved for fancy rich people who want to sound “well-educated” at social gatherings? Should I not have studied something to do with science or computers and numbers and then joined my local library immediately post graduation? Would it be okay to be sort of meh at writing essays, but for the sake of being a financially stable human who pays their rent on time? Is it fair to expect sixteen- and seventeen-year olds to have the sensibility to realize that just because a college offers a degree program does not mean that it’s going to be of any real value to you after graduation?

I can’t be the only English major on here, so someone please help me out of this black hole.

I’d love to to hear some takes on this from people with all sorts of educational backgrounds! I’ll go back to my regularly scheduled browsing through jobs tomorrow morning, but it is nice to stop and have a giant “what the absolute heck” moment once in a while.

Also here’s a picture of what is – I kid you not – the most valuable thing I have to to show for all of my college loan debt.

This performance is my clown-ing achievement. *cries*

PS: I know there’s no point in getting hung up on “I should’ve done this thing differently!” I’m also very grateful that I’m where I am in life right now. In that respect, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m just pondering the whole idea of certain liberal arts degrees, and wondering if we could help younguns make more informed decisions about higher education and what’s worth their time (and debt) – that is all! Cheers 🙂

2 Replies to “things I know: a little bit about John Updike, and nothing about the economy”

  1. I love you, Julia! It’s SO HARD finding jobs these days! They want you to have like cured cancer and have ten years experience for an entry-level position!!! Even in science! You could always try to make a living as a clown! Or a painter, as the few people to have seen my Mike-a Lisa this week have not questioned its artistic value! Keep holding on; something good will come up! ❤️❤️


    1. Ironically, with the type of acting gigs I tend to get, I sort of -am- making a living as a clown. Whoa.
      And it’s crazy to think that it’s a similar struggle for someone like you, with your smarts and passion and even personal connection to what you’re trying to do. How dare anyone not hire you?? But I love you and appreciate your positivity and you’re definitely right, everything will come together. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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