The Unexpected Lesson I Learned When I Couldn’t Get a Job
At 22, the world seems boundless, exciting and full of opportunity — until it doesn’t. Landing a job that you love isn’t easy, especially when you’re fresh on the scene. Despite having a college degree and a handful of internships to your name, there’s no guarantee that a full-time job will follow. I learned that the hard way.
After making the daunting move to the Big Apple, I realized that I was simply a small fish in one of the biggest ponds in the world (go figure). My GPA and college accolades were a thing of the past and it was time for me — previous awards and recognitions aside — to take center stage.
It was then that I realized how difficult it is to be a salesperson, especially when the product you’re selling is yourself. Here’s where the trouble lies: how can you convince someone to buy what you’re selling if you can’t even convince yourself to do the same? I wrestled with this question for months as I spent my days crafting cover letters and follow-up emails. And then I found the answer I was searching for in one of the most unlikely places — a rejection email.
Despite turning me down for a position, the employer complimented my personality, work ethic and skillset. But the closing line provided me with the most clarity: “It’s clear that you will be a phenomenal asset to any company you work for.”
Ain’t that the truth. Yes, I will.
From that day forward, I continued grinding away. Eat, sleep, apply was my motto at this point in time. I searched high and low for opportunities that I felt would fulfill my passions while matching my skills. I took this time to consider my goals and what steps would help me attain them. My patience was tested, along with my dreams of working in a competitive industry, but I didn’t give up and persistence gave me confidence.
A “no” didn’t defeat me. A year prior, I would have been infuriated, baffled or devastated by a rejection. With this newfound resilience, I began to see rejection as another step towards my final destination. Each position I lost was only leading me towards the one I would eventually find. And I was right.
After several months of job-hunting, I found exactly what I was looking for. Along the way, I learned more about myself than ever before. Job hunting is an extremely self-reflective — and potentially self-deprecating practice. C’mon, you spend a majority of your day talking about yourself. What makes it easier and more worthwhile, is when you can believe the words that you’re saying. We all know the tried-and-true interview question that hiring managers love to ask: What are your strengths and weaknesses? Well, I spent months exploring my answer and found that I am a proud (and complicated) combination of ambition, timidness, boldness, and drive.
Instead of spending my energy molding myself to fit job descriptions, I began examining who I already was. I used this time to relish in my passions — attending early morning fitness classes, testing new recipes and reading work by writers I admired. For once, I had time to explore what fills my life with joy and found that my creative instincts, love of research and desire to inspire were all attributes I could bring to the table. I realized my passion lies in helping people better their lives — physically, mentally and emotionally. So, I started looking for job opportunities that matched my interests without compromising my morals and could help me achieve my goals.
In fact, I learned it was crucial to find an employer who supported my strengths, but also provided opportunities to improve my weaknesses. It’s a matter of give-and-take, and that’s something I never considered before. My hard work paid off and I finally found the perfect fit (insert praise hands emoji here).
A bonus? I also found myself.
Amanda Garrity is a commerce assistant and freelance writer living in New York City. When she’s not writing about the latest health and fitness trends, she can be found exploring the Big Apple with coffee in hand. Find her on Twitter @AmandaCGarrity.
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