Women and Work: The back story

Sometime about a month ago I remember mentioning that I wasn’t going to write about my job searches. It was true at the time. Since then, however, the whole thing has started to become a bit stifling. An almost offhand comment from my husband yesterday on the way to the gym started me thinking about different experiences men and women have in job searching, especially in the church. Thus, this series was born: the theme of this series is Women and Work, and it will go weekly through July unless I decide to extend it. Wedding stuff will be posted in parts in its own section of this blog, accessible through the navigation portal below the banner—I’m nearly done writing it, but it’s long and has lots of pictures, so it will go up in bits.

This week, I’m posting two entries for the series, the back story and the first entry proper; look for the next part early next week. Comments encouraged, re-posts welcomed.

 

The back story

My job search has been going on in some capacity since March. I graduated in May; this means I got a late start. It wasn’t too long after that, though, that I realized I was not only behind, I was morbidly behind. At around the same time as the first wave of engagements of 2014 rolled around on my Facebook feed (this being before I took my page down), so did the job offer announcements from a surprising number of my peers.

In this case, my lack of direction wasn’t a matter of my not taking initiative. When I started college, I arranged my majors and my activities and whatnot with every intention of going to law school afterward. There were a few happenings here and there that had essentially confirmed my decision; an early seed of doubt was planted when I met with an attorney Luke knew via his mentor, but her counsel about job drawbacks wasn’t enough to dissuade me. It wasn’t until last April that the door was slammed in my face in the strangest possible way. It was in my Socialism class (Políticas Económicas Redistributivas) one day when I was having a particularly hard time paying attention that I started writing down a list of things I was going to do in life and realized that I couldn’t be an attorney. I still can’t explain why. Cue about a year of literally sophomoric confusion as to what I was doing (attenuated somewhat by the hullabaloo of wedding planning) and there I was: doing the next thing, doing well in my classes, going along in haste toward a cliff of life as I knew it and essentially going on trust that God would show me what I needed to do when I needed to know.

It was definitely easier to trust when school was there to distract me. I devoted an unusually large amount of energy to my senior year, partly because my circle of friends was starting to break up (read: move on in life), but also because that way I wouldn’t have to think about that or the fact everything I knew would be changing soon whether I was on board or not. The doubt started creeping in about the time I sent in my first application and got bad after we got back from our honeymoon.

It’s not a habit of mine to just stew in indecision when I feel unsure about something. If something needs to be done and I’m not quite sure how to do it, I’ll poke around and try things until something works, then keep doing it that way until I learn a better way, whether by asking someone, receiving counsel, or stumbling on a good piece of know-how on my own. When it came to the job searches, I was fortunate to know several people who were willing to go to bat for me. Still, after putting in applications and hearing a steady stream of nothing, I started doubting again and wondering what I was doing wrong.

I’m not applying for jobs I’m not qualified for. I know people do that, but if I were a recruiter, I wouldn’t want to deal with that, so I decided early on not to add to the problem. I was pulling out every creative research trick I knew to find stuff; I’m at a disadvantage in applying for jobs long-distance, but I have more experience in the things I was looking for than most of my peers, thanks to my job in the President’s Office, and figured that would put me ahead of the curve. But still, nothing. And any time I’d talk with my dad (with three decades’ experience in hiring people) or my husband (a business school graduate), they’d all bring up this thing I just couldn’t seem to get away from: networking.

“Network” has become one of those buzz words, kind of like “focus” or “initiative,” that when someone reminds me of its importance, I want to smack my head on the table. It’s not only that I don’t have one—as a Political Science graduate, some 75% of my colleagues in the field are going to law school, and the majority of the rest go to graduate school if their grades are good (or get secretarial or sales jobs if their grades aren’t so good)—it’s that, aside from them and the office staff in Judge Starr’s office, essentially everyone I know is a professor. I know a handful of campaign types from my freshman year, when I was active in a political group, but my views have changed since then and I would have serious reservations doing campaign work for an ideology I don’t support. When I described this problem to Luke on our way to the gym yesterday, he suggested talking to people in the church, going on to describe how fruitful getting to know older men in the church has been for him and how many opportunities it has opened up. I nodded my head ‘yes’ and said that was a good point. But then I realized something. That’s what I’m going to talk about in the first entry in the Women and Work series, the gendered side of church networking.

Head scratcher

This is another thing that makes me want to smack my head against the table. Found in one of the bars on Broadway in Nashville on the bachelorette trip.

 

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