I knew it was going to happen. I spent the summer in New York City hanging out with Commerce School students who were working at banks. I knew they were all bound to get jobs before they left the island. I got emails from CAVLink and University Career Services all summer reminding me to update my résumé and get ready for the job hunt. I knew it was inevitable people around me would start getting jobs. But the day my best friend, roommate and best pregame playlist-maker I know told our apartment she formally accepted her job offer from the company she worked for this summer, I was over-the-moon excited for her and, at the same time, jealous, stressed and anxious.
Even though I had lost nothing, I began the five stages of grief, something I think every fourth year goes through as we are constantly reminded this is our last time to do everything as an undergrad – our last first home football game, our last Rotunda Sing or our last Sept. 25.
Instead of introducing myself as a fourth year at the University of Virginia, I usually introduce myself by saying, “Hi, my name is Katie and I am in denial at the University of Virginia.” But by having a friend who was officially employed, I lost the ability to deny that this is our last year at college and the ability to deny that the gravy train ends in May – a fact of which my Dad never fails to remind me.
I’m not crazy, or at least I like to believe I’m not. So I obviously wasn’t going around denying my roommate had a job. But it’s extremely weird when someone your age is offered full-time employment with benefits. I mean, Convocation on the Lawn just happened a few weeks ago, right?
When my roommate announced she had a job, I was angry with myself. “Why couldn’t I have loved math more as a kid? Then maybe I would have wanted to go to the Engineering School too and I would have a job right now!” Then I realized I disliked science just as much as I disliked math and would have a more promising career flipping burgers at a fast food joint than I would as a systems engineer. After seriously looking into franchise options while simultaneously cursing the fact that practically every major media conglomerate hires on an as-needed basis instead of a year out, I realized I needed to channel my anger into some form of productivity. And by productivity, I mean 70 percent watching How I Met Your Mother and 30 percent updating my résumé. After all, I have to hone my television-watching skills so I can entertain myself if I do end up unemployed. That is, of course, if I can afford a television.
Bargaining was a short-lived stage for me. Usually you’re begging someone to stay or asking God to let your loved one live longer. Although I did send a quick shout-out to the big man upstairs to help me find a job, I took most of my begging, pleading, wishing and praying to a form commonly known as a cover letter. To anyone looking to hire an over-eager undergraduate student, the CliffsNotes of my cover letter are as follows: Hire me; I am willing to work long hours and will move mountains for your company. My email address is at the bottom of this column.
Depression is defined as feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self-pity and mourning the loss of dreams for the future. These feelings are all vital parts of the job search. Depressed about our current lack of job prospects – yes, we realize it is only September, we have a flair for the dramatic – my other roommate and I decided next year we would just be starving artists and beg for money in the metro station. Then my other friend pointed out that I am not artsy enough to be a starving artist. That’s when I realized I really need a job. I also realized that until I obtain full-time employment, these emotions will be present in my life. But spoiler alert: I have accepted this fact.
Yes, my amazing roommate has a job. Yes, a lot of other kids at this school do too. But everything in my life has always worked out in the end up until this point, so I have to continue to troll job listings with the belief my job hunt will work too. Of course, this is me talking in September. Talk to me in May and we may have to start the five stages of grief all over again.
Katie’s column runs biweekly on Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.