20something profile: Candice
I always knew I wanted to be a writer. At the age of 5, I wrote short stories of a little girl who traveled to the moon and a bear named “Bobo” who loved giving hugs. As I grew older, I wrote in my journal every night, filling it with secrets and dreams I only knew about (that is, until my mom found it under my pillow).
By the time I graduated high school, my passion for writing had increased, but I had no idea where I wanted to begin my studies. I knew I wanted to leave the suburbs, but the idea of going to a public school had me freaked out. Dorm rooms, living far away from home and just the college atmosphere in general — it wasn’t for me.
So, unlike many other people who were studying on campuses, I was studying at my parents’ house for community college courses. I worked my ass off there, got straight A’s and even joined the local newspaper, and eventually became Managing Editor. Within two years, I graduated with my associate’s degree and pretty solid journalism experience.
After visiting a friend who went to school in the city, I decided DePaul University of Chicago would be my best choice. It had a great journalism program, and I had saved up money from the retail job I worked at for two years prior because I knew I wanted to eventually move out.
I took most of my general education courses at my community college, so I had mainly electives to fill up. I realized I could double major in Public Relations/Advertising and in Journalism, so I decided to give that a go. During my junior and senior year, I worked through all different types of internships, but I always seemed to find myself going back to writing.
Working as an intern for journalistic companies (I worked at mostly magazine publishing houses), I began to see how difficult it truly is if you want to become a successful writer. My boyfriend works in the film industry, and he is always stressing on the importance of knowing people within the business.
Unfortunately, it is the same for writing in many aspects. Once I graduated college with a double major and a high GPA, I thought I had it all. I thought I would jump right into my field, get an awesome job and do what I love. “I made it to the Dean’s List; how can any employer turn me down?” I thought to myself.
Boy, was I wrong.
While it is definitely better to have a degree versus none at all, there is no guarantee that you will get a job once you graduate college. Professors do not warn you how hard real life will hit you once you shake hands with the Dean after he hands you your diploma.
I was fortunate enough to transition to working full time after I graduated at the magazine I was interning for during my spring semester. However, there was absolutely no warning that we would all get laid off several months later.
It hit us all like a ton of bricks, and I was left picking up the pieces of my financial debt all on my own. My parents helped me a bit, but I needed to find a job quickly if I wanted to stay in my little apartment in Chicago. I wasn’t a great saver before I was laid off, so I was struggling hard during this time to pay the bills. Eventually I found a nanny job that paid pretty well, and I stayed with the family for 5 months.
Those winter months while I watched the parent’s baby were probably the roughest months of my life. I was feeling really depressed and unmotivated to do anything. While my friends from school were landing awesome jobs, I was stuck inside changing stinky diapers. I felt like such a loser. I knew I was worth so much more than that, and I felt as though school had been a complete waste of time if that was where it was leading.
I definitely do not regret taking the nanny job. It was great experience and truly made me realize I do not want to have a child for a very long time (it is probably the hardest job I have ever taken).
What I do regret was my attitude during those first few months. Not only was I unappreciative for actually landing something that would pay the bills, but I was completely hard on myself for not achieving my dreams right away. An amazing opportunity knocked on my door in May (I am now an editorial assistant at Pearson Education), and if I would have known beforehand that this would happen, my outlook on graduating and job hunting would have been more positive.
The best advice I can give to any twenty-something is to enjoy the ride while you can. Everyone moves at their own pace during this decade. It took me a year to realize this, and I wish someone would have told me sooner that life doesn’t have to be a race. Just because a friend of yours landed an awesome job, or is engaged, or is traveling around the world, doesn’t mean you have to be doing those same things as well.
Your moment will come in time. If you continue to keep working hard and stay motivated, you will get to where you want to be in life.
Also, save as much money as you can and make a budget for yourself because you will never know when you may need to dip into your savings for some extra cash (I also wish I had known that during this time). Financial courses are also very helpful; I highly recommend taking one if you are still in college.
The unpredictability of life can be overwhelming and scary, but it is also very exciting to see where it will lead. The uncertainty of our twenties is an odd transition out of college, since we were so used to structure and the same daily schedule.
But that’s why we need to embrace this time in our lives. We finally have the freedom to do whatever we desire. Want to move to New York City and work for a high-end company? You can. Want to travel the world? Do it. Literally, nothing is holding you back from your dreams. The only thing that is stopping you is yourself.