If you open any of my old diaries or yearbooks, one staple of my identity has always been the same: I’ve known exactly what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to be since I was seven years old.
When I pictured myself as an adult, it was always as a career woman working at a newspaper in New York City. Granted, my dream featured an All the President’s Men version of a newspaper, and a massive apartment like Carrie Bradshaw’s.
But cut to post-grad and turning 22, I’m in the exact place my seven-year-old self wanted to be.
[C]ut to post-grad and turning 22, I’m in the exact place my seven-year-old self wanted to be.
Sure, it’s a little bit different from how I imagined. I work at Business Insider now instead of The Washington Post in the 1970s, and my apartment is in Brooklyn rather than the Upper East Side—but it’s still pretty close to my idealized future.
Whenever people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was always a quick answer: “journalist.” Throughout high school, this answer stood firm, and with a couple internships in the field under my belt, nobody doubted me.
But as I went through university, I became less confident in my answer—not because I didn’t want to be a journalist as badly, but because I had to face the prospect of not achieving what I’d told everyone I was going to do with my life.
Graduation came and went and I was an unemployed Queen’s graduate. I decided to use the summer as a breather in Kingston, and let myself indulge in as many Netflix binge-watching marathons and patio day-drinking afternoons I could possibly want.
Then it came time to actually face reality.
I signed a lease on my dream apartment in Brooklyn in July without a job lined up. And although I was cautiously optimistic, by the time August came around, I was still unemployed and with rent to pay.
I knew it was time to face my fear and actually start applying for work. I applied to every and any job on Indeed.com that had the word “editorial,” “journalism,” or “writing” in the title. In the end, I submitted my resume to over 80 employers.
Weeks passed by without a single job-related email making its way into my inbox. Some days I’d distract myself from the looming cloud of unemployment with family vacations or bottomless drinks. Others, I’d order in food and watch Gilmore Girls, trying to figure out how Rory got a job in journalism one week after graduation.
At the beginning of August, my luck turned and I got an email from Business Insider requesting an in-person interview. I felt good about the interview, but eventually doubted and convinced myself I wasn’t right for the job.
After impatiently waiting and shifting between excitement and worry, I opened my email to see an official offer of employment waiting to be signed and sent back.
It was one of those moments I’ll always remember. I checked my email after a dinner out with friends, not expecting anything, and the tears of relief started pouring down my cheeks before I could even finish reading the email.
From feeling the lowest lows and the highest highs of the job hunt, I’ve learned some tips on how to get to where you want in life.
It’s crucial you know exactly why you’re valuable. You have to know your worth to show it, and in the face of potential rejection you need to be your biggest advocate. Why are you better for the job over someone else? What unique set of skills can you bring to the table? These are questions you should get so comfortable with answering they naturally make their way onto your resumes, cover letters, and job interviews.
You have to know your worth to show it, and in the face of potential rejection you need to be your biggest advocate.
You also need to know what you want and how much you’re willing to settle. Chances are you aren’t going to get the perfect job right out the gate—but knowing what you want and how important it is for you to achieve it helps in the long run.
While you’re searching for your dream, it’s natural to feel small and overwhelmed. But the important part is having the tools to get yourself back on your feet.
Get affirmation from the people you love, reflect on your work, and do everything to ensure you know your value and capacity to achieve what you want—it’s the only way other people will know it, too.
Finally, remember that you’re young: you don’t always need to make the most responsible choice, or do all the work for your future alone.
Book a last-minute ticket home to see your mom, venture across the city late on a weekday to see a friend, and order tacos from your corner store for a night-in. Things are still going to work out if you work hard and keep your goals in mind.
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