Flying Fish

Jobward Bound
by Nicole Carlozo -- November 14th, 2011

With graduation still six months away, my heart isn’t yet in the job hunt. It’s still here, at the Marine Lab. But day in and day out, I’m constantly poked and prodded with the reality of graduation.

I recently had a revelation: each and every day at the Nicholas School brings me one step closer to uncertainty. Not uncertainty in terms of my career hopes and dreams, but uncertainty in terms of where I’ll be 6 months from now. I think many others can relate to my fear of the unknown, and my fears aren’t unfounded. Let’s take a walk down memory lane…The scene: the 2008 job market.

The Seeds of Doubt

When I graduated from college in 2008, I didn’t have a straight and narrow career path in mind. Instead, I lined up a research internship for post-graduation. I figured I could use my free time to decide on my next move. But as my 6 month stint at the Smithsonian neared its end, the only decision I had made was to delay graduate school for at least one year. I wanted to gain some real world work experience.

Easier said than done.

Jobs were scarce and it was hard to find a hiring manager willing to take a risk on a recent grad. Interview after interview, and application after application, I began to doubt. I doubted the worth of my degree, my double major, and my previous internship experiences. I doubted myself. I thought I had done everything right leading up to graduation, but I still faltered.

Every day as I sat down to job hunt, perfect my resume, or send out position inquiries, I thought back to all of the sacrifices I made in college in order to concentrate on academics. Without a job in sight, all of the long hours studying felt worthless.

Moving Forward

One year after graduation, all I had accomplished were two temporary positions and about 3 months of unemployment. I found myself without health insurance for the first time in my life, and I can’t even put a number on the job applications and cover letters that I wrote as I floundered for any opportunity.

Things felt hopeless when I decided to apply for a position at AAAS within their Science Policy Department. The position in question seemed like a good stepping stone and a fantastic learning opportunity. The only problem was – I lost sight of my passion.

By choosing to enter the Nicholas School’s MEM program in the Fall of last year, I was choosing my passion. But now, with graduation fast approaching, I find myself once again facing the possibility of unemployment.

Career Services et al.

It might seem a little early to be thinking about the job hunt. Believe me, I wish it were so. But my fears and ramblings aren’t unwarranted. Last week, Career Services descended on Beaufort to kick our butts into gear. We talked about job search plans, salary negotiations, and federal government resumes. And how can I forget…“networking”…Oh, how that word makes me cringe!

I hate to say that I dragged my feet last week. The cynical Nicole made an appearance for a few days there as I recalled my last job search experience. But then I remembered that this job search will be different.

Come January, when the job hunt truly begins, I’ll have tools, experiences, and knowledge that was absent in my last battle with unemployment. I’ll have the Duke alumni network; I’ll have an insider’s view of the government hiring process; and most importantly, I’ll have a little more focus and the confidence that comes with two years of preparation within a Master’s program.

NOTE: Can someone please remind me of all this come Spring when I find myself overwhelmed and most likely slightly nauseous? I’d really appreciate it.

Don’t get me wrong – the job hunt will still be challenging and exhausting, but perhaps I’ll find it a little more manageable. Here’s hoping!

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