Working 9 to 5:
Is not a way to make a living - especially if you're a student...
According to famed psychologist Sigmund Freud, a psychologically healthy person is one that can forge good relationships in work and love. As anyone who's ever read my Dating Diary can attest, I am (according to Freud), psychotic in the love aspect. After losing my job back in November, it was beginning to look like I was oh-for-two. Did that mean I was, in fact, crazy? Well, crazier than I originally thought?
After a summer of bumming around, it's back to the daily grind.
Losing my job wasn't all that bad. I threw my extra time into school. I finally knew what it felt like to attend a class, and for the first time ever I actually did all my required readings. I also received a severance package that tied me over for a bit. For the first time in three years, my Visa balance was back to nil. And before this, I was never able to get another credit card. Suddenly, I was approved for a Mastercard, although I told them repeatedly that this was not a good time, as I was a broke student (apparently, if you act like you don't want their credit that will make them want you even more).
But soon my lifestyle became a little too comfortable. I had been working consistently since I was fifteen (though they were highly unglamorous jobs, and sometimes downright crappy - yes, I'm talking to you, Loblaws), so having so much free time felt great. I would wake up in the morning, go to class, come home, sleep, watch television, go out, stare at the wall, eat, read, and sleep some more.
Then my money ran out. Right at the beginning of summer. (A very special shout-out goes to those who were stilling willing to stick around in my broke phase - you know who you are and you rock!)
Don't panic, I told myself. It's going to be okay. Just find a job and that'll be that.
And so the job hunt began. At first, I applied to a couple of positions a week, and to things that sounded great but I knew I was too underqualified for. This was something that I had to do, although deep down inside I dreaded going back to the daily grind. No one called. It's okay, I told myself. Just keep applying and see what comes your way.
Three hundred applications later, I had only gotten a couple of calls that led nowhere. One of the biggest dilemmas was my resume, which stated that I was currently enrolled in university. It's the age-old catch-22 of student job seekers - employers want the education, but won't hire inexperienced students, who are not working because they're trying to get the education. I remember receiving a call from a recruitment company, only to find that they needed someone for a full time, permanent position. I tried to tell them that I would fulfill that commitment, but they just told me to think about it and get back to them. They also conveniently forgot to leave a number.
By this time half the summer had gone by. Now it was time to panic, and I did. I started concocting crazy business ventures. Things like starting my own prostitution ring or selling my eggs for science were beginning to sound better and better. A friend referred me to a recruitment company (that shall remain unnamed due to legal reason - but e-mail me and I'll tell you), vouching that it worked for her. I decided to give it a try, and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. The consultant I met with gave me a brief interview, in which she stared at me like I was crazy. When I mentioned that I preferred a permanent position to a temporary one, she looked at me like I had just told her I had caused world hunger. After some thorough computer testing, all I gathered from the experience was that my Microsoft Office skills sucked. That day, I ran all the way home without looking back.
I applied to every job imaginable, from a taxicab dispatcher to a funeral home receptionist (that one still boggles my mind). Still, nothing felt right. I could not picture myself answering phones all day, or yakking it up with funeral home directors. When I was employed, I worked at a small non-profit company (which, incidentally, specialized in student employment). I loved the casual environment and laid back attitude. Unfortunately, jobs like that were few and far apart.
As someone working towards a Psychology B.A. with minimal office experience, the last industry I thought I'd end up in would be real estate. But that's where I found myself in late July as I walked to my interview. Sales and marketing were things that I didn't have an interest in, and besides, I wanted to keep my soul. What the heck, I thought. If anything, I can ask about mortgage rates and stuff.
The interview went better than I had hoped, and I found that I would be working solely for the broker (who is a very cool man and the best boss in the world) as a personal assistant. A personality test, follow-up interview, and a full day by the phone later, and I got the job. It was time to start planning what I would buy with my first paycheck. After two minutes of deliberation I settled on a ham (which, if you're curious, I didn't purchase yet).
So now it's September, and I'm back to school. Juggling school and work is doable, but difficult. I would like to finish my B.A. sometime this century, but I wouldn't be able to afford it without a job. Don't even get me started on the student loan people, although if you e-mail me I will send you my personal essay, entitled "Why Student Loan People Suck." I started drinking coffee, which does not keep me very awake (as my boss kindly put it, my peak hours are from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM). Two nights a week, I run to school to listen to a professor drone on about the human brain. Where I used to go to sleep at five in the morning, I now pass out around midnight, if I can make it to my bed.
Still, it's not all bad. I like my job and believe it or not, I like school too (except for those damn lines at Second Cup). The only depressing thing about it all is that I'm still a broke student, and when I get out of school, I will still be a broke student for a while. I guess that's how it goes - some things change, and some things remain the same. ¤ C.Ho.