A job search is fun: you never know where you end up. I nearly became an editor at a philosophy magazine, then nearly became a PA to a famous philosopher in The Netherlands, and when that didn’t work out and I also couldn’t join the book panel on national television. Thing is: I just love books so I looked for a job that would require reading. What else can we know about what we want to do with, well, the rest of our lives?
Whatever you do, keep your friends close.
Whatever I studied or put on my CV otherwise didn’t matter that much. During an internship I could prove my creativity in marketing campaigns, my diploma has this ‘cum laude’ thing on it that impressed the philosopher, and I have the right friends. Ergo, whatever you do, keep your friends close. I didn’t have to open a single job searching site. I sent in my CV only once and I had to skim it to one single page.
But who am I kidding – a job search is not ‘fun’ at all. Internships pay badly, the grown-up world drains your basic funds and at some point you just want to keep up with the Joneses and – say – go on a holiday every once in a while. No matter how ‘mindful’ and ‘balanced’ and ‘happy’ you are, at some point there’s this gnawing feeling that you need sheer ‘money’. Whenever you land that job that will pay you normal wages, you cannot escape the suspicion that the Fraud Police will come for you soon. Really soon.
Someday you’ll find yourself listening to podcasts about the importance of failing. You tell yourself ‘that’s right, I’m the Master of Failure, so I’m doing well in this world’. My strategy would be to try as many things as possible. At least some things will work out, and it will look just like consecutive success.
I want to share something about this insecurity. When everyone believes that you have potential but no one seems willing to hire you. When you’re sent to and fro and you just have no clue whether you have ‘it’. At home, you may stare into the mirror the way I do, at times. Sizing up yourself, trying on strangers’ eyes to see what they see but it’s never clear. Slowly, your nice shoes wear out, your nice jacket loses its belt or buttons, your bag rips apart. There’s no way you can be the Ideal Applicant again. And everyone tells you you have an entire life laid out before you.
Well, that’s awfully nice, but right now I’ll just have to make it to tomorrow.
There used to be this ‘job for life’ in some other time and space. A form of security we can only dream of, we millennials and others. This is the time in our lives when we will define ourselves. A time in which you’ll get used to a job you’ll lose. But most of all a time in which we need to brace ourselves for self-preservation. Or rather, survival.
This is the age in which any job, any application, and any internship is an exercise in adaptation. So here, now, I’m sharing one of my favourite quotes, from one of my favourite films ever, that says it all:
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“You know why I like plants? Because they’re so mutable. Adaptation is a profound process. Means you figure out how to thrive in the world.” (From Adaptation 2002)