As the ball drops…

IMG_33942014 brought some good things my way: Great friends, steady income, a camping trip. But, at midnight, 366 days ago, I’d raised my glass and said “Good riddance!” to 2013.

I was done with it. Fed up with the unluckiest number. Indignant about the stretch of unemployment handed me by my second year out of college. I’d spent 2013 furiously writing cover letters and editing resumes, getting my hopes up and then crushed, and taking a part-time teaching job that paid next to nothing. Finally, through the generosity of connections, I was able to take a temp position that turned into my current, full-time job at a TV and radio station in Boston.

It was a long road. But, honestly, I’d made it longer.

Sitting in Starbucks with my laptop open to job listings while my roommates took the train to work, I’d nursed my mocha lattes — chocolate felt very necessary at this time — and groaned to anyone who would listen about the emptiness of my days. I’d apply for two or three jobs and then call my mother to weep over the futility of my B.A. I’d spend my nights binge-watching TV to drown out my ennui.

If I were to go through it all again, I’d do a few things differently:

1) Know my resourcesWhile I’m hoping that 2015 will introduce more resources for young people as they enter college and then the workforce, I’d like to call attention to a few useful tools that aren’t often discussed:

The Young Non-Profit Professionals Network (YNPN): YNPN has chapters all over the country, from Atlanta to Seattle to Washington, D.C. If you sign up for their listserv, you get about a hundred emails a day — though it’s worth it! — sharing job and internship postings, networking events, and even free career development opportunities like “Lunch and Learn.”

A few months ago, I found my part-time webmaster gig through YNPN. Last spring, my twin sister opened a YNPN email announcing a networking event for her dream organization. She attended the event, heard a whisper about job openings, and applied. Now, she’s doing something she loves!

Meetup.comThis site allows people to form groups in their communities: Book clubs, running teams, you name it. My friend and I founded our writing circle through Meetup.com — It’s the one thing I did right in 2013. As the group grew, my number of acquaintances exploded. Our shared interest in writing has led to conversations about our families and friends, our jobs, and our hopes and dreams.

Meetup.com is a great way to network, especially for people new to a city. The more groups you join, the more people you meet, the more you learn!

TaskRabbit.com: TaskRabbit is an outsourcing engine. Via a nifty mobile app, people identify the errands they don’t want to run or the tasks they don’t have time for — laundry, house-cleaning, dog-walking, etc. — and contact a “Tasker” to complete those chores for an hourly fee.

As a disclaimer, I haven’t yet used TaskRabbit, but I imagine that it would have been an excellent way for me to make some cash — and feel less despondent — during my jobless period.

2) Continue learning. The whole time I spent moaning and groaning in 2013, I could have been developing new, marketable skills — For free!

As an English major at Kenyon College, I’d spent my time thinking about Shakespeare, line breaks in poetry, and extended metaphors. At the slightest suggestion that I should take a computer science or business course, I laughed out loud. Who, me? Learn HTML? Pfft.

A few years later, thanks to CodeAcademy and the Women’s Coding Collective — the latter of which offers awesome 2-week classes at $50 a pop — I know HTML, WordPress, a bit of CSS, and a bit of JavaScript. EdX.org and Khan Academy are also great places to look for free classes.

Knowledge is power! Keep an open mind when it comes to expanding your horizons.

3) Maintain perspective. And try not be such a whiny brat all the time.

Last night, as I bounced around Boston to friends’ parties before the ball dropped, I found myself surrounded by folks kicking the Recession’s ass in intriguing ways: Two twenty-somethings who, in addition to taking classes and holding jobs, have launched part-time careers as Mary Kay consultants. An Oberlin grad who works full-time at a lab and part-time at an ice cream place, so he still has money to go out on the town while paying off student loans. A twenty-four-year old woman, whose interview you can find here, pursuing her degree in a non-traditional program that allows her to work at a Boston start-up.

People: You’re killing it. Bring on 2015.


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