Running came to me at a really….tumultuous time in my life.
I graduated from NC State University in 2011 with my Masters. I was a Social Worker! Werk, right? Wrong, kinda.
I spent the next like, year, searching high and low for a job that would apply, even vaguely, to what I’d spent years studying. And thus, began the infamous job search, and by default, how I became a marathoner. Running kept me from tearing all my hair out, one loc by one, each time I went through the following process, one that would take you from hopeful -> despondent in a matter of weeks.
The black hole.
I started, like any job-searching dumbass, by applying for jobs using those online forms. Then I’d get really, really, really upset when I never heard anything for like 100 years from whatever agency it was. It completely escapes me why any agency/company would utilize these forms when it’s pretty clear to me that a million people apply using these things, and not a single one of them gets a call back. The key, I found, was filling into the form, exactly what the form wanted to hear.
Once I started figuring out the system, there was these incredible awkward experience called “the phone interview” that would befall me. Here’s how it would go down. You schedule a time with an interviewer, usually over email, to do the interview. Say it’s like at 8:30 am. You’ll do what you’re supposed to, find a nice, quiet place, and sit with your phone, waiting on this call. Usually the interviewer won’t bother to call until 8:36. This means that you will have been staring at your phone, on high-alert, for 6 minutes. The phone rings. And your heart jumps out of your chest. Usually, at this point, you’re all, how the eff am I going to answer this, and sound professional? I know! I’ll use my racially ambiguous voice for this one!
“This is Cheri!”
So I’d chirp through the entire phone interview. I’d usually fly through this part.
After I’d nail the phone interview, it was time for the in-person interview. Stress city. This was the tricky part. What do I wear. Ugh, is my natural hair a little too “ethnic” for the position? Too late, it’s nearly 10 years in the making. What if I don’t look like what my voice sounds like? Have I done enough research on the company? What might they ask? What do I say when they ask if I have any questions.
This, by far, was one of the most emotionally damaging parts of the entire search process. You’d do the interview. And you never really know how you did. There’s the wait. And then you sense that you’re about to be broken up with. There’s the email break up, days after you’ve sent your stupid thank-you note. And the email reads like this.
I wanted to let you know how AWESOME I think you are. You’ve been such an asset to this company in the capacity that you work in, and you’re SO good at what you do, we want to KEEP YOU THERE! That’s right, we went with this other guy for the position that you interviewed 3 times for! (Sorry about the humiliation!)
I know it seemed like the interview went really well, and we even showed you where your future office was going to be to tease you, but we really really, really wanted to fool with your emotions, that way, when you open this email, you’re absolutely sure to burst into tears. Hope to embarrassingly see you around the office!
Oh. Gonna drink anything that’s a liquid now.
This happened to me really too many times for me to recount, and in the most painful, and humiliating off ways. I’m not lying, once I was interviewed like three times for a position, and I didn’t get it. Once, in a lunch interview, one of the guys interviewing me asked me how I do my hair when I run. I believe he was just intrigued by my locs. I didn’t get that job, and I found that out when I called the woman in the interview back after she’d left me a chirpy sounding email. I was pumped! She’d called, all happy, to let me know that they’d given the job to some guy, who ended up resigning a few months later.
All of this was eased by a few things. I never really accepted the situation, and it would be a lie to claim I had. That might have made things a little easier, but my parents are successful, my friends are successful, and I compared myself to that. Plus I have student loans to pay off. But what did make it a little easier was Fleet Feet, running and generally working off the jobless anxiety, and eventually finding a job in my field.
I’ll leave you with the one and only Job Search Tip that you’ll need.
You guys know all the tips. Your resume is top-notch, you have degrees, and you’re qualified, In the time when you’re unemployed or underemployed, be good to yourself. Work out. You’ve got more time than most working people, so take advantage of it. Go the the gym. Do some yoga. It’ll render you a little more ready to take on your situation, plus, you’ll have a 6-pack and look like a friggin supermodel when you actually do get an interview. It’s tempting to sit around and gain 1000 lbs while going through this, but don’t let this process win. And when you do experience rejection, and you will, chalk it up to another
frustrating experience. You know there are better things out there for you.