So you’ve just graduated from college with a liberal arts degree and dreams as big as Russia. You move back in with your parents for a bit in order to save money while you search for a “real job.” You don’t have much relevant work experience but you’ve pulled together enough internships and extracurriculars to form something that vaguely resembles a resume and spend hours tweaking your vague cover letter. You send both of these bad boys off to any and every company who may be able to offer you a job and then wait anxiously for a response. Are you there, work force? It’s me, College Grad.
However, your hope quickly morphs into despair when you realize that your degree means little to employers and no one is responding to your applications. You consider e-mailing your relatives who might know someone who knows someone but eventually just end up scouring Craigslist for hours on end for something, anything that might allow you to move out of your parent’s house. You are just about ready to toss your career goals out the window and become a yoga teacher when, ping! You finally get a response from what seems like a reputable company. A company that promises things you can’t even really define but that sound very sophisticated and enticing, like a 401k plan.
So you change out of your PJ’s, throw on some uncomfortable shoes and go in for the interview. The questions are not what you’d anticipated but somehow you’re still able to bullshit your way into sounding like a legitimate candidate. You leave feeling good but still uncertain. You try not to tell anyone in case you didn’t get the job because that’s just embarrassing but luckily, YOU DID! You got the job and your parents are so, so proud of you. You let all your friends know that you won’t be joining them Sunday happy hour because your “real job” and therefore “real life” begins on Monday. They give you shit but you couldn’t care less because cue Hall and Oates, your dreams are about to come true!
The first week at your new job is fantastic because you’ve just discovered the snack drawer, which is permanently stocked with cookies and everyone around you seems kind and helpful. You now have your own desk with your own phone and an official pass that guarantees you a space in the parking garage. But best of all, you now have a steady paycheck! “Goodbye Ikea furniture!” you think, as you stuff your face with free cookies and laugh at all your Facebook friends who are still unemployed and traveling to third world countries in a desperate attempt to “find themselves”. What a bunch of losers.
But flash forward six months to when the sight of packaged cookies makes you want to vomit and you find yourself Googling the term “sociopath” in an attempt to categorize your boss’s erratic behavior. You haven’t exercised in three months and you’re beginning to realize that the term “office ass” is not only a real thing but that it applies to you. You check the calendar to see when the next three-day weekend is and discover that it’s not for another three months. Suddenly, you feel trapped. Is this is really what everyone strives for? Is this all you have to look forward to? Suddenly your friends’ travel pics don’t seem so pathetic anymore. In fact, they make you burn with jealousy. When are you going to have time to do that? Staring at a picture of your ex-best friend riding a camel, you feel yourself slide into a deep depression. You start to question the decisions that led up to you taking this corporate job and you wonder if there were other things you could have done right after college. And, if you’re like me, you start to plot your escape.
Now, this story obviously does not apply to everybody. Some people are lucky enough to fall into something they enjoy right after college or, more commonly, one have to “put in their time” in order to get where you want to be. All I’m saying is that other people’s definition of a “good job” is not necessarily what’s good for you and it can be easy to let a paycheck entice you into doing something you hate. So think twice before signing that W-9. Go get your travel bugs out. If you majored in something creative, maybe you want to go freelance awhile. And if you ever decide what’s atop your current job ladder is not worth the climb, then it might be time to hop off and find something that suits you.