20something profile: Kali
As practical and sensible as I am most of the time, I’ve certainly had my moments where I became caught up in some very wishful thinking. Choosing to work for a Bachelor of Arts in history with a minor in professional writing right as the American economy tanked in 2008 was one of those wishful moments.
Despite the fact that I was witnessing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, I told myself I’d be fine with my degree in humanities from a small university. I knew I wanted to be paid to write somehow, because writing was what I loved most.
I was just going off what had been drilled into my head, and the head of many other twenty-somethings, since elementary school: follow your dreams! I eagerly bought into the idea that all I had to do was find a passion, and then work would find me.
Thankfully, most of the other decisions I made regarding my university education were happily grounded in the reality of my situation. I started college in 2007 and graduated in 2011. I spent all four years at Kennesaw State University, a school that is located about 30 minutes outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
I chose that university because it was only an hour away from home, and tuition at the time was cheap enough that it would be completely paid for by the three merit-based scholarships I had earned. I might have picked a degree that was about as far from in-demand as you could get, but I was able to graduate with zero in student loan debt and a considerable amount in savings before I had my first full-time job.
It’s probably obvious, but I never did get a job as some sort of writer right out of college. When I finally came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to have my ideal job fall into my lap with nothing more than a recent education and experience as an administrative assistant on my résumé, I let my practical, sensible self guide me.
I knew I didn’t fear being a worker bee. I wasn’t above taking a job that wouldn’t fulfill my soul 100%, because that’s what family and friends and hobbies and learning new things can do. I started looking at anything and everything; the only things I required were 1. something that would allow me to pay my bills and 2. something that wasn’t retail. Three months after graduation, I accepted a job at a very small company in the Metro Atlanta area.
That was two years ago, and I’m currently still with that company. Though it was never my dream job, I threw myself into it and worked hard. That paid off by gradually earning me more responsibility and more benefits. Currently, my job entails handling national retail accounts for my company. But I haven’t given up on what I truly wanted, which was to somehow make a living from writing.
Now that I’m financially stable and have established myself as an independent adult, I’m working on being able to say “I’m a writer” when people ask what I do. I enrolled in a grant writing certificate program earlier this year and will complete it in October.
Ideally, I’d love to work as a grant writing consultant for local nonprofits. In the meantime, I’m also trying to drum up work as a freelancer, and I’ve just recently started a blog on personal finance for millennials. I’m loving writing for my blog; it’s fun and is offering a constructive outlet for my desire to write and create content.
It’s not easy being in your twenties and searching for your ideal career in this economy. Getting your foot in the door is tough, and even when you manage it, entry-level salaries are low and costs of living are high. For me, what was even harder was letting go of the idea that I was going to have this fantastic career that started the day after I graduated. That’s just not the reality today, especially when you’ve got your liberal arts or humanities degree in hand.
But instead of getting (too) down on my career prospects, I changed my strategy, and so far it’s working: take the job you can get now, even if it’s tedious office work, but don’t forget your passions. Make time to cultivate your talent and your art around your full-time job and always continue striving toward evolving your passion into your new career.