Today's installment of Young & Recessioned features Lauren McCabe, a 25-year-old living in New Orleans who went from being unemployed to teaching how not to do it.
I went to school at Columbia in New York City. I didn't have any idea what I wanted to do. And even people who say they do, they don't know what it's like in the working world.
After I graduated, I applied to be a surf instructor in North Carolina. That was the only job I ever got with a traditional resume and cover letter.
When the summer ended, I went back to New York teaching SAT classes on the weekends. I had Monday through Friday off, so I used that time to job search.
I got offered an unpaid internship, and I said okay since I had 9-5 off. I did that for six months, and then they hired me. It was awesome. I ended up getting to travel to the UK and then Berlin.
Then the recession kind of hit, and [my company] lost its biggest paying customer. They told me they couldn't afford me anymore.
In the meantime, I submitted some of my photos to a travel-writing contest in Conde Nast Traveler, and I won. The grand prize was a trip to Thailand.
I sold all my stuff [after I was laid off] and I gave all my clothes to my friends and I moved to New Orleans. I started working three jobs. I worked as an SAT tutor, I waitressed, and I taught after-school enrichment classes at public schools. I worked three jobs for six months straight, until I had saved enough money for the trip.
I went on the trip, and it was sweet, because I thought by the time I'm done traveling, the recession is going to be done. The trip came to a close, and that wasn't the case. All my friends had lost their jobs, and they were all having trouble finding work.
I waitressed and I worked at a coffee shop, and, granted, it was really hard. But I learned so much in that job. It was a corporate restaurant, so I feel like I learned a lot about corporate culture. I know now that I don't ever want to work for a huge corporation.
You do get depressed, and there's a tendency to pity yourself. To just sit inside all day and do nothing. But being unemployed shouldn't be stressful. I never got to the point where I couldn't pay all my bills, I always would do something to have some kind of income, but I also tried to just get out and do something.
I went back to New Orleans in November of 2009, because I kind of wanted to stay. New Orleans is kind of magical. I started sending my resume out, and I found this website called Koda. They have all these jobs geared toward young professionals with zero to five years experience. I ended up getting a call from Koda, and they were looking for a marketing and communications specialist. I started meeting with them, and they ended up offering me a job.
My advice would be instead of just Googling random jobs, I would start researching companies, to see which ones are hiring. If you want to work for your dream job, and they aren't hiring, look for ones that are.
If you get laid off, I think people should look at it as a great opportunity to do something you wouldn't have the chance to do otherwise. Try to get off the beaten path. Volunteer or do something in your community. Put yourself out there every way.
Got a tale to tell about being Young & Recessioned? E-mail Paul Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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