20something profile: Kat
Posted by David
I graduated from the University of Chicago in 2010 with absolutely no life plan. As a psychology major with vague interests in journalism, health, and event planning, there were many different directions I could take, and yet — nothing really jumped out at me. I applied for dozens of jobs but received very little support from the career center at school. Eventually, I abandoned all hopes of working and living in Chicago and turned my sights back to my hometown.
The summer of my junior year of college, I interned at a small health company just outside of DC. I got the position through a friend of my mom’s and spent three months writing health articles for the two company blogs and attending health fairs. It was fun, and I was good at it. So, when I began my hunt for jobs in DC after graduation, I contacted them to see about any available positions. They were hiring! Two phone interviews later, I was a salaried program manager with full benefits and business cards on the way.
When I started work that August, I was unnerved by the dull repetitiveness of each day. I woke up at 6 am to fit in a workout before showering, changing, and gulping down breakfast. In the car by 8:15 to get to my suburban office park by 9 am sharp, where I worked under fluorescent lights in an airless cubby until at least 6 pm. I remember leaping from my seat at 5:01 after the first day and wondering why others weren’t getting up to leave…
I was lucky that my coworkers were young and fun, but the lifestyle of the workplace simply did not suit my personality. Every night, I would fall into bed mentally exhausted yet antsy from lack of activity. A 6 am workout does little to erase the wiggles from your legs when you sit for nine straight hours.
I did that for two years.
Until I realized I was unhappy sitting at a desk.
It was not in my nature to drive to an office in the suburbs.
I did not like working for managers who underappreciated my strengths and were quick to critique my weaknesses.
I did not like my time to be dictated by anyone other than myself.
When I was able to pinpoint my dissatisfaction with my job, it became infinitely easier to figure out what I DID want in a career. I wanted positive feedback and flexible hours and creativity. I felt lucky to be employed and didn’t feel entitled to job choosiness, so I stayed far longer than I should have.
Though many millennials would have killed to be employed and have a regular paycheck, I simply couldn’t go through the motions another day. I started looking for other jobs — applying to any company that hinted at creativity, flexibility, and work/life balance.
I got lucky because I found the perfect job.
Today, I work as the social media specialist and content creator for an online reputation management company from the comfort of my couch at home. My new employer also supports me as I write my own blog unemployedkat.com and practice SEO and online marketing techniques for my personal brand.
I know not everyone will find such a great fit so early in the process, but if there is one piece of advice I would offer to confused millennials who are job hunting I’d say — figure out what you don’t like to figure out what you do.
In the end, I opted for flexible work hours over dental insurance and accepted a lower salary to eliminate my stressful commute. There will be drawbacks to any job; you just need to figure out what you can live with and what you can’t.
My current work situation isn’t for everyone, but it’s ideal for me.