The summer is over, and when I did have a corporate job in New York City, the sadness of fall, and how the blissfully sluggish pace of the warmer months was going to give way to the chilliness of never-ending scheduling and conference calls was a gripping sensation, but nothing compares to the frigidity of re-entering a hostile job market
The last time I held a full-time was last summer, and it didn’t end well.
It was a referral by a friend, which is pretty much the only way to secure assignments in the editorial world. The role was web producer, and I was responsible for maintaining the health of one of the verticals for a major portal that resembles the aesthetics of Yahoo!
The remote gig felt good at first, like most things do, especially when you’ve spent enough time wondering if you’ll ever make a decent living doing what you’re good at, due to the scarcity of opportunities that present the possibility of a long-term contract.
The idea that I could avoid the hassle of L.A.’s fabled morning traffic was also a huge plus, and I marveled at the level of efficiency that greeted my web-based orientation and brief training sessions. This was the first time enjoying the benefits of not being chained to a cubicle, while annoying office chatter hovers— uninterrupted.
It also felt great not to have the physical presence of nosey managers or the stalking eyes of those who silently monitor and report back for nothing in return. We had in-built mechanisms that shadowed our output, and the hours logged in and out, but that didn’t feel nearly as irritating as the on-site version.
Like I said, it started off well, but right in the middle, things began to disintegrate after one of the newbies left, and I was saddled with her vertical, including the one I had been assigned, and the newly-minted offshoot. Needless to say, I was over-loaded with responsibilities that challenged my ability to seamlessly prioritize while juggling a plethora of folders that couldn’t bleed into each other.
Suddenly, the doable temp-to-perm was becoming a pain in the ass, and as always the increase in workload wasn’t paired with an increase in pay, and there was no indication that anything was going to change in my favor.
A week before Labor Day weekend, I was let go via a sobering phone call from my contact at the job agency, and the young woman who broke the news explained that my abrupt ouster was due to “structural changes” within the company.
At that point, I didn’t care much about the reasons for my dismissal because I was mentally and physically exhausted from the strain of balancing an unfairly cumbersome roster of duties.
My faith in the workforce was finally shattered beyond repair, as I combined that unfortunate experience with the previous outing at another media giant, that also ended prematurely — after it was determined that they had mistakenly hired way too many temps. The job requirements had been slimmed down to accommodate the revised mandate of less content and more videos.
And so after almost a month of sitting around for a whole day — pretending not to be bored, we were all let go with a big, fat — THANK YOU.
The dream of successfully garnering an editorial job, that pays well enough to fully enjoy the privilege of doing what I love to do without the inconvenience of searching for supplements to keep me afloat- officially died a terrific death.
Looking back, it was direly naive of me to wrongly interpret what seemed to be an encouragingly burgeoning market for freelancers, instead of cautiously manning the unpredictability of an ever-changing climate, while maintaining a level of stability.
Between the years 2008–2011, I was able to enjoy the pride and joy of working steadily as a freelancer, as I held down a full-time job in an unrelated market, and the extra income combined with my bi-weekly checks made life in NYC a lot less intimidating.
And by 2013, after walking away from an ambitious position at one of New York’s illustrious institutions after a summer of horrors (why is it always the summer!?), I was convinced that the only way to go was to bravely give the writing career the attention it deserved without interferences.
Medium came into my life shortly after, and back then it was “invitation only,” since it was still in its experimental phase. My development as an essayist benefited from the guidance of a friend and genius editor, who brought me into the portal that would change my life.
There was nothing more gratifying than writing for free, because of the invaluable reward of not being swayed by stats, algorithms or other designs of the metric system that are currently driving me insane. Of course, I wished that I could be compensated for my daily postings, but I loved the purity of being disciplined enough to share my words with transparency and the genuine need to evoke emotions.
The love affair with Medium was immediate and dependable, and my loyalty kept the partnership thriving though the highs and the non-existent lows.
Five years later, and like every relationship, tension develops when the honeymoon period is over because the good times never last.
So now, it’s full speed ahead into the volatile arena of the treacherous job search, that didn’t take very long to overwhelm with dark skies and the violence of depression that sets in, when it becomes clear that I’m not the candidate from 2013, who had the world at her feet.
I was employed at one of the foremost financial institutions in the world, and my seven-year record was a huge boost when I began the task of exploring options that would prove lucrative. I was stuck in the unenviable position of a dead end trajectory that boasted no raises or bonuses, despite supporting an ambitious team of more than ten officers.
Once the search began, I quickly caught the fancy of job agencies who saw dollar signs when they examined my impressive resume. And as always, I didn’t leave the work entirely to agents who were driven by the thrill of closing the sale. I knew it would ultimately be up to me to scope out the job descriptions and packages that would match my demands.
At the end of the day, it came down to two enticing choices that I had orchestrated without any assistance, and despite my best intentions, I chose the wrong company.
Five years later, and I’m sadly back where I started, only this time, I’m older and not at all wiser.
I’m also not in the prime position to find a job that will showcase almost all the requirements on my list. The editorial realm has disappointingly taken several steps back, as the practice of hiring and fairly compensating talented and hard-working writers — has given way to lazily implementing a model that caters to social media superstars with a massive following — who are guaranteed to rejuvenate the staleness of loyal writers who have to be tossed “to the left.”
As I venture into the landscape of job listings on unrecognizable hosting sites, my once laser sharp eye-sight blurs the generic descriptions into a messy concoction that was designed for my emotional torment.
Suddenly I’m transported to the relevant moments of my tumultous existence, when I had the power to prevent this present dilemma, and instead of spending my time filling out online applications that still demand “salary requirements” and “proposed start date” — I get lost in the script that changes for the better, each time I reject what I stupidly embraced — not too long ago.
When I finally release myself from the chamber of masochism, panic returns when I realize that I can’t remember the login details of company sites that I had signed up with over a decade ago — back when shit made sense, and I believed that the decades ahead would immerse me in the career of my dreams.
Looking for a job can plunge you into a violent storm that threatens your mental capacity, especially when you’re old enough to comprehend why you’re too old to be doing what you’re doing, without harboring a reasonable amount of shame.
I did minimal research, and there are ways to combat the depression that sets in and refuses to let go — until you mix a little whisky with your tea and temporarily envision the TV writing job you can still fight for — even if your competition are twenty-somethings with years of PA experience.
I’m finally loose enough to wonder if it’s better to start off with the template of fiery accomplishments that surpass you when death hits at the too early age of thirty-two, or if it’s okay to spend all your life pathetically chasing what will never exist for you.
I suppose there’s comfort in proudly claiming your “loser” status and then figuring out how to cushion the blow with a steady gig that’s uninspiring, but at least gives you the space to strategize your comeback, after years of scheming.
There are just some mistakes that you can’t recover from, and the lifelong assault is depressing.
But when all else fails, I can write about it and barely get paid for it, and hopefully boost the spirits of the younger ones, who can use me as the example of what can happen when you age into a system that has moved past your kind.
I can’t stop doing what I used to love to do, and I’m sure that bond will keep me in check no matter what, and who knows, maybe I can survive long enough for that book deal or whatever else is possible if I can summon the will to dream again.
In the meantime, reality is a bitch, and so is looking for a job!
I did further digging and found something helpful: