Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Job Searching

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. T. S. Eliot

I came across this quote recently and it really struck a chord... I am approaching the end of graduate school and the beginning of what comes next. It's difficult not getting caught up in the paradox of endings and beginnings, but I have begun to address the question--what next? Certainly paying off the loans for school will become necessary in a matter of months, so a job is inevitable. But I want more than that, I want a career that connects me with my edge, one that challenges me, is rewarding, fulfilling, a career where I can make an impact, where I am necessary. Typing these qualities into the job search criteria turns up little and so I am taking a different approach. I have to know myself and find what sparks these things in me so that I can cultivate them within my career. And even as I write this I am acutely aware that the search is less about a job, but about my place in this big bad world. My fear is less about finding the perfect job and more about being accepted, having something to offer and being responsible for where I take my life. It is about engaging my life!
I have taken up the daily practice of running--something I have long enjoyed because it gets me out of my head and into my body. The running, both challenges and successes, becomes a metaphor for what feels unconquerable in my life. If I can run the half mile up hill I can cold call a couple of recruiters. If I can run an extra two miles in 29 degree weather I can stop being afraid of fitting in and start getting in! If I can achieve what feels impossible than there is nothing that I can't do. For anyone struggling with what to do next, find a practice where you can challenge yourself, be successful, and get out of your head. I have a friend who rides her horse, another who does yoga, another who surfs and another who meditates. Figure out what works for you.
What is it about not knowing that is both terrifying and invigorating--like teetering on the edge of uncertainty and opportunity? Today, I feel ready, energized, excited about this beginning and ending. Today anything is possible and all I want to do is survey what could be...

11 comments:

Livin'the*dream said...

The question lately for me has been what next? As a senior in college getting ready to graduate in June this question is asked everyday. Whether it's me asking myself or every person in the room asking me at our Christmas party, my answer still remains unknown. Sometimes I sit and think what next? Enter the corporate world, be a ski bum, travel the world, move to an unknown place(like Into the Wild), start my own company, excel at my hobbies, go to graduate school, culinary school? ( I could use a few cooking lessons)..... the list goes on. But ultimately I know what I want to do, keep livin' the dream! Now I just have to find a job that can support the dream. Hmm so I guess I am back to the question, What next?

dhmnadler said...

I think that many soon-to-be college graduates see their graduation and entrance into the "real world" as yet another obstacle to conquer or mountain to climb in their lives. Adjusting and planning for it with similar techniques they may have used in applying to boarding school, college or summer jobs... The key thing to remember is that marching forward toward any obstacle in your life is a brave thing to do, however your best tool is a plan. Some sort of goal. How do I want to climb this obstacle, blast through it find someone to get over it with me, or just go for it?
My mom is always asking me about my "five year plan..." Where do I see myself in five years? Where do I want to be, without some idea of what you might want to do how will you do where to head, or even begin looking? It always seemed to me somewhat daunting five years? That was like asking me in eighth grade where I would go to college... The point is that it can change but at least I knew then that I wanted to go to college.
In terms of the running metaphor, pick a direction to run. My legs may burn, I may be cramping up but at least I know how much further the top of my mountain is. Therefore I know during the process if I have gotten of course or if I have changed direction, knowlingly or not. I need to not just run aimlessly but to some end
Now the question is where to what end? What mountains do I want to try and climb?

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