A good friend once told me that in moments of personal transition, when things feel unstable, chaotic, ill-defined, she liked to make a wishlist – “like you’re writing a letter to Santa Claus” – about what you want out of life in that moment.
So – what’s my 2012 wishlist? Not surprisingly, it revolves around one thing – a job.
After a month visiting in Spain, and 3 months back looking for work, I’m still do not have steady employment. There’s probably a lot of reasons for this. 1) Journalism’s still a tough market, even in D.C., even with a master’s. 2) We are still in the midst of economic crisis, right? Of course that’s it. 3) Oh, yeah, I am incompetent when it comes to networking. I am sociable. I like people. People like me. But I freeze when it comes to forcing social contact for the sole purpose of furthering my career interests. This excuse/explanation doesn’t go very far with people in D.C. where networking actually seems to take priority over genuine human interaction, but there it is.
So after my initial job search stage, I realize my strategy needs to change. Sending resumes and cover letters isn’t going to do it, that is clear. It’s time to get out and shmooze in 2012. (A little piece of me dies while I write that). But what will I be smoozing for? Well, that’s where my Santa Claus list comes in. I’ve always found it a helpful exercise in the past. So here goes – what do I want for 2012?
A job that:
- Allows me to use my brain.
Please, please, let me use my brain. One of the greatest frustrations that led me to leave Spain was the fear that my brain was actually atrophying from disuse. Not that teaching English or writing and presenting at MobuzzTV was brainless work, but that it was like walking circles around a track when I wanted to try my hand at a marathon. The context in which I was doing those jobs was just, by their nature, limiting, with no room for growth. I don’t want a job that challenges my sanity, I want one that challenges my intellect.
- Lets me keep learning.
Not just learning in terms of subject matter – like learning about new policy issues or new parts of the world via reporting (which is definitely why I want to be in journalism in the first place) but also concrete skills- like InDesign, more Photoshop, getting beyond HTML basics. There wasn’t time to do it all in one year at grad school so I want to work some of those skill sets in however I can. A new language would be nice too, but I’m not picky.
- Allows me to pay off my student debts.
Because I have to be a little bit practical.
- Gives me time/stability to maintain my health.
I’m not 20 anymore, and I need my beauty rest.
- Contributes something even remotely good/ useful/ noble in the world.
Yes, fine! Roll your eyes! Little hippie Karina wants to do good in the world. Is it so much to ask to do a job that makes you feel that your presence on the planet has not been a complete waste of time? Really?
- Lets me get involved in the international arena – either by reporting on internationally relevant issues, travelling to report, using my foreign language skills, acquiring a new language or any combination of those factors.
This one is at the end, because it’s not as urgent a factor. If I have to do something else for a while to allow me to move in this direction later, fine, but you know, it’s a Santa Claus list so might as well include it.
There. That’s it. My 2012 employment wish list. A clear set of priorities is the best way to vanquish doubts about your own decisions and envy over other people’s paths. Now, if I don’t look twice at poorly or unpaid internships that will help me “get my foot in the door”, I can just look at point number 3 above. And if I feel momentary pangs thinking about the job that someone else got that pays a ton but consists of writing about fluff, I can look at number 5 and breathe a little easier knowing it’s ok, it’s just not for me. Hopefully.