Remember “Sally” from a few months ago? She was rejected from a job because she asked her lawyer father for legal advice. How dare she! Anyway, she’s back with an amazing story about how hustling can get you pretty damn far. In her own words…
Since my first day of Kindergarten, my parents, teachers, and counselors all emphasized that if I tried hard enough, I could achieve anything. Hard work and determination would land me at the front doorstep of my goals.
My mother always told me to eat a good breakfast, and I would succeed. I listened, ate up, and succeeded my way through graduation. My parents took pictures of me smiling on the front steps of the library, and we all thought I had really done it.
So how did I go from graduating from the Honors program at the University of Maryland with a 4.0 GPA, Phi Beta Kappa to scooping dog poop, waiting tables, and house sitting?
After graduating last year into one of the toughest economies, I was sent with my newly printed resume to pursue hundreds of coveted entry-level positions in disinterested offices. They had bigger fish to fry, and bigger, more experienced fish in the sea swimming by me with their tentacles out. As I pitched my talents to interviewers (if I was lucky enough to get that far) and explained why anthropology was such a great choice in major, I saw in their eyes what every one of them was thinking: “That’s cute.”
After a couple of months of wasting away my funds on an apartment I could not afford and work clothes I certainly did not need, I put the box of tissues aside, squeezed my stacks of cover letters into a large storage unit, and took to the streets. I put on my walking shoes and begged for jobs. You need a waitress? Well, here’s my resume. I’m an anthropology major.
I house-sat, waitress-ed, office managed, and found my not-so-true calling in dog walking. My sixteen hour days included three changes of wardrobe, bad tips, and all the joys that come with dog walking. I never imagined having to clean up after dogs after getting a college degree, but it paid enough to keep my checking account positive. I was still sending out resumes somewhere in between my odd jobs. In a bad economy, people still need to eat, their dogs still need to go to the bathroom, and I needed to keep moving.
Finally, in April, I applied and was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania’s Masters in Social Work program. I don’t see it so much as running from the job market as much as I am using the knowledge I gained while being ostracized from it. I was forced to finally think about where I really wanted to send my resume, instead of just what looked good. I learned that success was measured by more than good grades, and I figured out what personal success really meant to me. Take that recession.
There are 359 hits when I search my Gmail account for sent resumes over the past year. Granted, many of these are What-Am-I-Doing-Wrong-Emails, but they are still a testament to the amount of personal manpower required for this task. I cringe at the thought of how many of these embarrassing emails were actually read.
At the end of it all, I think mostly to another poster in an 8th grade science room of a cartoon frog in a pelican’s mouth. The pelican is nearly swallowing the frog whole, but that little frog keeps its hands wrapped tightly around the pelican’s throat in a death choke, with a quote under it reading, “Never Ever Give Up.” I always related to this more than the Little Engine That Could, although the message is clear from both. Stick to the golden plan even when things look down. And in the meantime, pass the Cheerios.