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Career > Work

The Great, Big Job Search

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.

I want a job so bad. I’m not afraid to be desperate about it. 

My romance with school has come to an end and I’m ready to leave it behind. I no longer have any interest in sitting in classrooms or writing analytical essays or being told to do something after 5PM. Quite frankly, I’m ready to sit at a desk for hours on end or fetch someone coffee or wait tables during the day and work on my magnum opus at night. All I want is to get paid for a job that I chose to work, and having no other business except that job. 

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Alas, it is the April of my senior year and none of my applications have warranted an offer. Mere days ago I would have been embarrassed to say this, but since then my perspective has shifted — I’ve stopped beating myself up for not having a job yet. Actually, very few people I know have anything concrete lined up for the summer. Most of my friends and I study the humanities and we’re all (mostly) in the same boat. A job search in the humanities is quite distinct from a search in any STEM field. From what I can tell, the opportunity, accessibility, and feasibility is not the same. This is not to say that one field is better or “harder” than another — they’re simply different and, therefore, require different searches. 

I can’t code to save my life. I’m not sure I’d want to code if it could save my life. I refuse to engage with any AI because I’ve seen the Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House (1999) and I know the dangers. No one can convince me to use ChatGPT even if it will write me a better cover letter. I’m not good with graphs or statistics or calculators. Sometimes I still get confused about my times tables. I acknowledge that there are skills I do not possess.

I also acknowledge that there are things at which I excel. I can speak to a large crowd without saying too many “likes” and “ums.” I’m able to make a mean cup of coffee and I’m not afraid to clean bathrooms. I can and will edit any piece of writing put in front of me. I have style guides memorized and know MLA like the back of my hand. I can lead a meeting full of people and efficiently get through an agenda. I know how to work a camera and shoot the horizon at its most engaging angle. And I can write a damn good email.

What I have realized during my job search is that I can be good at things and still not know how to market myself. Searching for a job is all about selling yourself. Using “keywords” in your resume, piecing together a cover letter like it’s a puzzle, and connecting with people on LinkedIn are all parts of a game I don’t know how to play. I try one move, thinking I’m finally figuring something out, and then I realize it’s the completely wrong move to make. It is almost a science, this quest for a career. There seem to be so many minute details you need to know to get by, to make the cut, to get noticed, and I feel like that knowledge isn’t readily available to most people. It seems a little antithetical, if I’m being honest. Don’t we need more workers, of all expertise and varieties?

The thing is, I know I will eventually get hired and (hopefully) be doing something I’m passionate about. Maybe it’ll take me a few months, or a year, or a few years, but I know it will come. What bothers me is all this pressure to land a career by the time you graduate. Balancing your final exams, packing up your life of four years, and obtaining a job that will pay the rent feels like an impossible juggling act. Perhaps the job market used to be more accommodating to that timeline, but I think more things have changed than we recognize. Many of my peers have plans to go home for the summer, save up money, and apply to jobs afterward. Try again in the fall, or the new year. It doesn’t make you a loser to do that. And I highly doubt that my first job will be my dream job. I’m not looking for it to be. 

I’m looking for a chance to get my foot in the door. I’ve got my whole life to try.

A native to Seattle, Washington, Shea naturally loves both coffee and rain. She is a senior, double major in English and Film, and passionate about good television, Jane Austen, and a well-constructed sentence.