Real World Summer

This is my first summer in the real world. It’s the first summer where I have not had ample free time, hours to lay in the sun, or days to do nothing. It’s the first summer where I’m actually working a real job, a job that requires me to come in every day at the same time and leave when the sun has already passed its prime.

Last summer, I had graduated college, but I was still clearly not in the real world. I was still job searching and teaching swimming lessons and didn’t start working in a restaurant until later in July or August. I still had plenty of time to enjoy the summer months.

And all the summers before that my summer job didn’t count. As a lifeguard, I went in to work around 11 AM and spent my days in a bathing suit, soaking up the rays, lounging by a pool. I got nice long breaks where I could lay out or swim or read a book. I taught a few swimming lessons and left the pool at 7:30 PM, with time to either go home and relax or hang out with friends, knowing that I didn’t really have a care in the world, and that an 11 AM start time the next day was plenty of time to sleep in.

Just a typical day, on my break at the pool.

Just a typical day, on my break at the pool.

Unfortunately, I didn’t appreciate those days when I had them. I have had a summer job since I was 15. I started working at a pool–selling ice cream bars in the snack shack and cleaning up the wrappers that escaped the garbage cans. The next summer I was a lifeguard at a different pool and just couldn’t bear to leave that easy life. I knew that it was an easy job. It was a great job for a swimmer, and I could use the skills I already had. But by the last summer or two that I spent there, I started to hate it. I was tired of the sun. I hated putting on sunscreen every day. I was appalled that I had let myself sit there staring at water all that time, basking in boredom. And I had read too many articles about lifeguards getting skin cancer. I finished up my fifth year lifeguarding and never looked back.

It was an easy job. But I still didn’t fully appreciate it. It’s hard to appreciate something until you’re done with it, until you’ve seen the other side.

And here I am. On the other side. And now I see that the old grass was greener.

I am a summer person. I love summer. I love sun and the beach and warm days put me in a wonderful mood. So now I wake up in the morning, shower and put on a sundress. But when I get to work, I can’t even tell if the sun is shining because my office doesn’t have a window. I leave work at 5:30 PM and I feel that summertime is passing me by. I find it difficult to do anything after work knowing that I just have to wake up again early the next morning. My skin will be permanently ghostly this year, unless I try really really hard on the weekends to lay out–but on the weekends, I have other things I’ve been waiting all week to do.

Summers in the real world have turned out to be much more depressing than I originally anticipated.

So this week, I am lucky to be on vacation. I am incredibly lucky that the organization I work for was able to give me a few days of paid time off (and that my vacation happens to be over the 4th of July holiday, when our office is closed anyways). And I can say for a fact that I am taking full advantage. I have turned off my work email syncing on my phone. Our beach house actually doesn’t have wireless internet connection this year, so I won’t have to worry about seeing all the emails pop up on my computer. (I’m writing this from a Starbucks.) I brought plenty of books and bikinis, with the expectation of clearing my mind and de-stressing.

myrtle beach 2012 252

During those lifeguard years, I would get to the beach and it would be just a different version of my work-day. Sun, water, sunscreen. But this year…this is vacation. This is the true meaning of vacation. It’s a relief. Taking some time to yourself to unwind and relax, to get away from the real world for a short time. And to figure out how to better appreciate the real world when you go back.

So far it’s off to a rainy start. But honestly, I don’t even mind. There will be other days to lay on the beach. Today I will read a book.

First Day, First Job, Big Sigh of Relief

job

Someday I will be able to look back on the time I spent post-graduation running around tables with martini shakers in both hands and ketchup splatters on a starched white shirt, and I’ll laugh. Someday I’ll think back on the time I spent shivering in a swimming pool trying to get a little girl to put her head under the water, and it will be a pleasant memory. Someday I’ll remember the days that I put in four or eight or twelve hours of work and didn’t make a dime, and I’ll be able to better appreciate it.

But today, on the first day of my first real job, all I’m doing is breathing a sigh of relief. Today, all of the temporary jobs and short-term internships and sporadic hours are too recent. The six months I spent in frustration and bewilderment after I graduated without a job are too fresh in my mind. So today, after my first day, all I’ll do is breathe. And someday six months will seem like nothing. The jobs I worked will seem so distant. Someday it will be funnier.

Today I started my job as an Administrative Assistant for Steeltown Entertainment Project, here in Pittsburgh, PA. After interning with this nonprofit organization for several months, the position opened up and was offered to me a few weeks ago. This was the first of hopefully many good days.

On the mountain that is life, I am at the bottom. I haven’t seen much of the world, I haven’t met many people, I haven’t climbed very high. But I have big plans for myself. I have things to do, places to go. I am happy to have this opportunity to take my first step.

I may not have gone very far yet, but I couldn’t have made it here, and I wouldn’t be who I am, without some really great people in my life. My parents are my rock and my home and they let me move back. Jim believed in me more than I believed in myself. Hannah is my therapy, with hour and half phone conversations every week, the best friend I could ask for. Some really awesome PR pros (hopefully you know who you are) served as my role models and social media guides. And some great friends, new and old, were the best distraction.

Thank you to everyone who gave me advice, everyone who taught me anything, and anyone who had to put up with my incessant lament, “why, oh why can’t I get a job?

Now I can stop being stressed and frustrated. I can breathe a sigh of relief and let it all soak in. This is the start of something big, I can feel it.

 

(photo via)

The Job Search for the College Grad

I have been home from college for a little over two weeks. I don’t have a job yet, not even a summer job. I will soon have to start paying back my students loans with what meager earnings I made through school. The thought that I don’t have a job is never far from my mind. And despite all this, I am slowly learning how to sit back and just enjoy the extra time I have.

I have been applying to jobs every day since I got home from college. I’ve emailed contacts that I’ve made and reconnected with older students I knew from school. I’ve updated my resume and perfected my cover letters. I’ve organized videos on my YouTube channel and retweeted some great job-searching tips. I’ve added more connections on LinkedIn and created this website. So I know that someday, some form of electronic media will reach the right person who will give me the perfect job that will lead to my dreams. I will continue to apply everywhere and follow up after interviews. I’ve read enough articles and blogs about the job and internship hunt that I know that I am doing everything I should be doing. It will all work out eventually.

So this summer, I’ve started to learn that it’s okay that I’m not busy right now. I’m so used to having a packed schedule with barely enough time to eat between classes, shooting video, working at a restaurant, editing, and hanging out with friends. I like the bustle of a busy schedule. I feel that I get more work done when I know that I have only a set amount of time to get it done. It has taken some adjustment for me to realize that the world will not end if I have time to actually take a nap or listen to music.

My first order of business when I had gotten home from college and unloaded the car was to immediately unpack, rearrange the bedroom and organize my stuff. “Set up camp” if you will. I created an organized workspace in a corner of my room, amid the deeply unorganized crap that my brother had brought home from college and never unpacked. But that’s all right because here I am at my old-fashioned roll-top desk (which my laptop doesn’t truly fit on), with pencils and notepad within reach (in case of a phone call from an employer offering me a job), and my to-do list constantly updated (“find a job” is always at the top). And the first couple days I sat here diligently until I realized that I needed to take a chill pill, spend some time with my family, read a book and enjoy what little unemployment time I have (because let’s face it, the retirement age will be at least 90 by the time this generation gets there).

So I picked up A Widow for One Year by John Irving and haven’t looked back since. Yes, I’m still applying for jobs every day and I’m still keeping myself organized, but I’m managing my time more wisely. I’m working out in the mornings, chatting with my mom over breakfast, learning to play pool with my brother and taking naps in the afternoons. After being away at school for four years, I learned to really appreciate the time I have with my family. We’re all growing up quickly and starting to head out into the big bad world, so I was wonderfully blessed with this extra time to spend with them. One of these days, I’ll get a call about a job offer. But for now, I’m fine with relaxing a little bit.