Yeah, the economy sucks balls, and I’ve been having horrible visions of myself working as a secretary in a dental office - which is completely lame, considering all the cool shit I want to do with my life.
If you went to school to get an accounting degree, then, yeah, you’re probably trying to be an accountant. But if you’re me, and you got a degree in Asian Studies (of all things) and your first job ever was as a writer, then nobody’s handing you a career itinerary. That’s all on you. And dammit, it’s fucking scary! The parents of every engineering and business student are studying you like a lab rat, and asking you dumb questions like, “What are you going to do with that degree?” You’re like a social experiment. They’re all waiting to be proven right, to be justified in harassing their child into a monstrosity of a major – because hey, their kid is going to make bank while you answer phones and chase a CEO around with a cup of coffee.
But hey, fuckers, I’ve got some surprising news for you. The economy is in the toilet. Even seasoned professionals are losing their jobs. And that ridiculously narrow-sighted degree of yours isn’t going to be worth jack shit when you’re competing against people with degrees and experience!
I’ve been very fortunate. Mostly because, somehow, when I want something, I tend to get it. I completely skipped the retail and food services industries as a teen because I was hell bent on being awesome, and not at all concerned with money. I got a job at a newspaper doing grunt work, until the boss assigned me an article. And BAM! He realized I had talent. I went from intern to editorial assistant. I was published every issue. And at my next journalism internship gig, I insisted on being given a chance immediately. At first, I was told that interns were supposed to do grunt work, and maybe I’d get a chance at an article by the end of my stint. I very politely informed my superior that I had two years worth of published articles at another newspaper, and that the internship wasn’t worth the gas if I couldn’t write. So she gave me a chance. And guess what. Every single article I wrote was published on the front page, including the first.
I’m not telling this story to be a narcissist. I’m just saying, why settle? If you want to be the baddest bitch on the block, you aren’t going to get the experience working at Target. Always aim high. And do the weird stuff – nobody’s resume says “secretary, secretary, secretary, secretary, Vice President of Public Relations.” That kind of career jump doesn’t exist. But if you can demonstrate accomplishments that are varied and unusual, employers will look twice.
Anyway, after spending the entire summer after my junior year in college in Southeast Asia, I had an idea of my new dream career.
I had visited the UNESCO office in Hanoi, Vietnam, and met some really kick ass women who had relocated from the US and Britain. I had also eaten dinner at an NGO run restaurant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which was generating funds to be put back into the surrounding community. Hell, I wanted to work at a Southeast Asian NGO! (For those that don’t know, NGO, or non-governmental organization, is the same thing as a non-profit.)
But how? The general consensus on the internet was that, while such a career path was desirable, it was extremely difficult to get into. Well, hell, now what? Do I try to get an internship at the UN?
On Monday, I was surfing www.idealist.org – a site dedicated to non-profit job listings around the world – and I discovered my dream job. Communications Coordinator for an NGO in Laos. Oh my god. PR, media, writing, editing, content design – I couldn’t believe it. I fell in love with Laos when I visited. I had wanted to visit Vientiane, but had been unable. Now I had a chance to work there! And dammit, you’d be fucking surprised how easy it is to write a kick ass cover letter when the job you’re applying for is the ultimate everything you’ve been seeking. This job stood out in a sea of lame ass jobs I had been sadly considering applying for. So, I wrote my cover letter, attached my newly redone resume, and emailed it.
So, guess what? I got the job! I knew the job was perfect for me when I looked at the description, and apparently the director could tell I was perfect for the job by looking at my description of myself. Hell yes. I getting to go where I wanted to go – and I’m only 22 years old!
Some things to note – my future position, Communications Coordinator, is an internship position. But it’s at a small NGO – which means I’ll get tons of hands-on experience. I’m volunteering 3 months of my time starting in July, which is when I finish my stint in Americorps. And if you’re thinking, whatever, it’s unpaid, screw that, think about this: what kind of employer wouldn’t look twice at the resume of some 22 year old blonde girl who handled communication and PR for a non-profit in a 3rd world country? It takes fucking balls to do something like that. And, if I do continue to work towards a career in Asian NGOs, isn’t this the place to start?
Yeah, you fucking know I rock.