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Struggling to Survive

My Journey to Find a Job After Graduation


To the outside world, I am a successful, intelligent person with a wealth of possibilities in front of me. However, fear and doubt seem to permeate my every thought throughout the day and I wonder if I will ever find success. I recently completed a Ph.D. in education and have multiple peer-reviewed journal articles to date. 

My faculty and colleagues have all been quite confident in my ability to land a great job. Yet, here I sit, completely broke, 6 figures in debt, and struggling to find a job. In fact, if something does not happen soon, I may lose my car and home, which will put a damper on finding a job. I have applied to over 70 different jobs, including in retail and at gas stations, but I have been unemployed since May. Each time I speak with family or friends, they tell me to keep my head up and that everything will work out fine. However, I am having a hard time buying into those sentiments.

I have tried to be optimistic, but it is rarely easy. I work 12-14 hours a day looking for and applying to jobs, writing on my blog, and trying to find other ways to make money. I have sold a number of things, though many others still sit awaiting a buyer. I have attempted just about anything people have suggested, but the money remains elusive. I try to be positive about the future and listen to those who are trying to encourage me. But, there is a small, yet powerful voice in my head that tries to undo it all. What if I end up homeless? What if I lose everything that I have worked so hard to build? These are questions that too many people have had to answer. If a person with a terminal degree cannot land any employment, we have something wrong.

I have had to overcome many obstacles to complete my degrees, but this obstacle seems nearly insurmountable at times. Shortly before I started my Ph.D., my grandmother passed away and I had kidney stones in the first few weeks of my coursework. 

On top of that, I made very little money as a graduate student and my wife and I separated. Every time I begin to get down about my situation, I think of the things that I have overcome. This helps for a time, but I soon realize that others control my current situation. I cannot force someone to hire me, but only try to improve my cover letter, CV, and interviews. 

However, this does not guarantee that I will land a job. Therefore, I have branched out and tried to make money online and by selling things. If I figured out my hourly pay so far, it would probably come to less than 1 penny, but I continue to plug along as I do not have many other choices. My only hope is that something transpires before things can get much worse.

Although I have good days, where I feel confident and optimistic for the future, there are many more filled with despair and depression. Many of my colleagues have moved on, leaving me with few friends. I feel like I am stuck in this small college town, suffocating under the weight of my stress. In this entire process, I have learned to both love and hate hope. Hope can get one through the darkest of days, but when hope is dashed, it can cripple one significantly. 

I went back to school to ensure that I would have the skills and knowledge necessary to get a great job, but now I question my decision almost daily. I am an educator who values a good education and the system in the US today, but in my case, it may have been too much of a good thing.

One of the most difficult things I have had to deal with is not being able to do much to help others. I had to skip getting anything for my son’s birthday this year. I had to stop giving money to the charities that I had supported. I gave without much thought, but now that I cannot, my view of my contribution to society has suffered. 

My confidence level and self-esteem have taken a major hit and impostor syndrome is my daily companion. Although this situation has been rather sobering and saddening to me, I have learned to enjoy the little things in life much more. After all, that is all I can afford at this point. Spending time with my family has become the opiate to my emotional state and I have learned to enjoy a good walk more than ever before. 

I hope that my situation improves soon, especially because I would like to continue to write and share with others online. However, if this is the one and only post you ever see from me, then you will know that I was unable to find a job and my worst fears have become a reality.  

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