After graduating from college in 2011, I decided to bypass jumping directly into the job market and to walk down the road less travelled by joining the Peace Corps. My decision to join Peace Corps was founded by a long journey of volunteerisms around America and abroad, mixed with a deeply engrained love for cultures different than my own and a desire to learn from and communicate with people from diverse backgrounds.
My two years in China with Peace Corps were undeniably two of the most challenging, yet formative years of my life to date. My time abroad was spent teaching, learning, loving and growing in a country that’s culture and language is polar-opposite of anything I had ever known.
While in China, I was thrown out of my comfort zone—becoming accustomed to things like eating pig brain and putting on dance shows for audiences of 200 plus! But beyond the odd and interesting experiences I encountered, living in China taught me life lessons and skills that are invaluable, and will undoubtedly stay with me forever. I was forced to learn how to be alone, how to navigate streets while illiterate, how to solve problems on the fly, how to be a role model for my students, how to overcome fears, and how to be okay with being ME! It wasn’t easy, but these are all things that we as humans hope to grasp, and when we do grasp them—or at least start to—we hope that we can articulate to friends, family, and potential future employers the significance of these newly acquired skills and abilities.
But how do we do this? How do we make our unique skills translatable? When you’re searching for a job, the golden question is always: “how will I prove to employers that my skills set me apart from all the rest, and make me the best fit for this position?” How do we make it so that our experiences directly correlate with the qualifications that employers are looking for, without seeming irrelevant?
All of these questions have been on my mind for the past 5 months since I returned home. In trying to answer them I’ve looked over my resume what feels like hundreds of times, and even looked through my journals from my time abroad—trying to find that one thing that will make me stand out from others—that one thing that will help me get a job, and not just any job, but a job that I can stand behind—a job that I’m actually stoked about!
I’ve networked, had dozens of informational interviews with people in industries I want to work in, worked and reworked my resume, cover letters, and LinkedIn, and have even gotten a handful of those (oh-so-hard to reach) in-person interviews. I won’t lie, waking up everyday and doing these things has had me on an emotional rollercoaster. Some days I’m up and feeling great about where life is taking me, and other days doing the work to get to where I want to be can seem tedious and tiresome and I just want to give up. But thanks to bundles of support from amazing friends and family, I keep reminding myself why I’m doing these things and that reaching my goals isn’t supposed to be easy. The only way I will be satisfied at the end of all this is to know that I worked hard to get to where I am, and believe that these steps will get me closer to where I want to be in 5, 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.
So even though the job hunt is tedious and frustrating and can make you want to give up, scream, or cry—it’s during the struggle of finding a job (or whatever your chasing after) that will bring you some of the biggest growth of your life.. And as long as you continuously remain positive, and keep smiling—eventually someone will appreciate your dedication and see the value of your unique experiences and attributes. There will be an employer somewhere who can relate to whatever you’ve been through, and they WILL want to bring you onboard.
Once you find that employer or that company, you’ll know you’ve found a keeper and you’ll know it’s a job that you want to accept—because as the old saying goes...
"Good things come to those who wait!"
Editor update:Since writing this piece, Christine received two incredible job offers—both within her DREAM field! Ultimately, she accepted a Claims Rep position with the Social Security Administration—serving the homeless, veteran, and disabled populations in San Francisco. (Congrats Christine!!).
Christine was born and raised in the suburbs of Northern California. After leaving California on an adventure to explore part of the world in a bit of her own way (College in Oregon, Peace Corps in China, and traveling around Nepal, India and South East Asia), she decided to head back to the place that's always had her heart--San Francisco, CA. When she’s not at work, you can find Christine dancing at music festivals, hanging in a park with friends, exploring the great outdoors, or enjoying some down time with a good book and coffee.
A self empowerment blog by Ryan & Erica. Made for women discovering their strongest, most authentic selves.