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The Graduate

iGoogle and long baths: For all those wishes the Genie doesnít grant

Jacqueline Quillen

(Nov, 2010) And so begins a life of debt. I am finally out of credit card debt just in time to enter the world of loan debt for what feels like will be the rest of my life. I log into my loan accounts online where I can conveniently find a countdown to the day I have to start paying off loans, the end of my grace period, which I also refer to as the end of my freedom. How nice of them to point this out to me! One thing is for sure, a part-time internship will not pay the bills for long. You can bet that Iím also counting down the days until I get a full-time job, but this countdown has no end-date in sight yet. The job market is still a tough one.

The homepage of College Central Network, a career site for college students and graduates, has transpired to somewhat cynical but still hopeful quotes and images relating to the job market. My favorite CCN homepage is a picture of a genie lamp, like the one in Aladdin, and a caption next to it that says, "Donít you wish. In the meantime, post your resume on CCN." I got a kick out of this and thought, "at least they are being honest." We know that finding a job these days is incredibly hard. Unfortunately, there are just not enough jobs out there for all of us. But we have to keep a cool head about it, just like CCN does with its comical relief.

My mom tends to increase my stress levels because she likes to plan things for everyone and know that everything will be okay. I appreciate her help, especially with figuring out my loans because I had no idea what I was doing there. Together, we came up with a plan of how and when I would pay off my loans. I should have known that our plan was too good to be true because things rarely work according to plan for me. Iím already behind schedule of our plan, but Iíve accepted the fact that I will be in debt for a long time. In the meantime I do what I can to get by. My carefree attitude frustrates my mom. Though it may seem like a carefree attitude to her, my attitude is far from carefree. All of this train riding, job searching, loan repayment, and what -am-I-doing-in-life? nonsense is eating me up inside.

Anxious for me to find a full-time job, Mom asks me every day if I have been looking for other jobs and if I have found anything. My answer is always the same, "Yes Iíve been looking and no I have not found anything or at least have not heard back from anything." Of course I want to find a full-time job more than anything right now, but I am also trying to stay sane during this time of my life. Mom constantly asking about the status of my job searching and loan repayment does not help my sanity level.

Part of staying sane is reaching that stability of feeling like I have a grasp on things in life like work, home life, finances, social life, personal health, etc. Getting situated in this stable position is not easy, and I imagine other graduates who are going through the same thing feel this way, too. I am situated at work and I still get chances to learn new things and expand my field of work, which I appreciate. Even though I have plenty of off-time to look for other jobs, I still think of my career and where it is going while I am at work. While I am trying to focus on a new research and writing assignment that requires all of my attention, my mind is unwillingly thinking about where I should apply for jobs. Of course it doesnít help when my mom sends me an e-mail AT WORK with a subject, "Top 7 Careers for the Future." I wish I could spend twenty minutes either applying or simply searching for jobs while at work because it would help clear my head so I could focus better on my work. Itís a mental thing.

And when I should be focused on applying for jobs Iím also thinking of other things like keeping a blog and managing my checkbook. It is possible for one person to do all of this; mothers manage to do it all and some even work a full-time job too. What makes it feel more impossible for me is that the job in this whole equation is the unknown. Not knowing what you will be doing for forty hours out of the week two months from now is incredibly nerve-wrecking. At least for me it is. I find that this unknown factor controls the way I think, what I do, how I sleep, everything. It creeps up on me even during times when job searching should be the farthest thing from my mind. For example, I should not be thinking of job searching while on the clock at my current job that I have only been working for three months. Thatís a no-no!

I had no idea that this anxiety over the unknown job factor had completely taken over my life. It still lingers in the back of my mind, but I just try to block it out and calm myself. There is nothing I can do to change the unknown factor except to keep applying for jobs and hope for the best.

When I interned at the Career Center last Fall I wrote an article about tips for making your resume stand out in a huge pile. Well I recently printed a huge pile of resumes of people who applied for an open position at work. Going through all of these resumes made my stomach turn. Most resumes were a generic format stating the facts. Some resumes, however, were all decked out with fancy formatting and fonts. I sympathized with the 39 out of 40 people who donít get the job. I felt particularly sympathetic to one applicant who had a masterís degree. The department will most likely hire someone with a bachelorís degree for this specific position because it is less expensive than paying someone with a masterís degree. This applicant probably spent a boat load of money on graduate school and is now applying for the same level jobs as people with bachelorís degrees. Unless graduate school was paid for, I am sure this person is dreading the amount of debt owed and the status of being unemployed.

There are many more resumes out there that will not make the cut. But like I said earlier, we have to keep a cool head. My method of keeping a cool head about this awful job market is three-fold: I take a long bath at least once a week; I exercise at least three times a week; and I lift my mood with my iGoogle.

"Whatís iGoogle?" You say. iGoogle is the instant cure to feelings of anxiety or despair. Not quite, but it can help! iGoogle allows you to customize your Google page with all kinds of apps including inspirational quotes, your horoscope, historical facts, jokes, countdown to events, and so much more. My favorite part of iGoogle is the inspirational quotes, which by the way change every time you visit the page. I try to visit iGoogle at least three times a day just to read the inspirational quotes. It only takes a few seconds to read the quotes so Iím not wasting much time at all. Here are some of the quotes that I remembered to write down to share with you all:

"The indispensible first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want." Ė Ben Stein.

"People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing." Ė Dale Carnegie. Maybe itís not what you are doing but who you are doing it with that makes it fun.

"Itís never too late to become the person you might have been." Ė George Elliot. Phew! I still want to be a teacher at some point.

"If you donít have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" Ė John Wooden.

Read other articles by Jacqueline Quillen