Looking for a Job
A few weeks before graduation, I started looking for a job with the hopes that right after, I would immediately start working. I didn’t want to rest (like what my friends and family suggested) because I was afraid that companies might not hire me because I didn’t work right after graduating. I also felt afraid that I might become lazy to search for a job if I wait for too long and might miss a lot of opportunities and job openings. So there, I started my job hunt kinda early, but still, no luck.
A few companies contacted me for an interview but I didn’t show up to some of them and the ones that I did show up to, I didn’t get accepted. My problem was I was so desperate to find a job that I sent out resumes to every company that was hiring the position I wanted, I never even took the time to find out about the company, only when I’ve received a text about a scheduled interview, that’s when I did my research. It wasn’t a good practice because only then would I find out the company has bad reviews, it’s in an inconvenient location, the schedule is nightshift (I am very much unwilling to work nightshift), or some other crappy information.
This One Time….
I remember this one interview I attended, I think the interview went well but the examination went horrible (I didn’t even finish the exam). It was for a writer position, the job benefits looked promising and I thought I fit the bill for the job qualifications. But geez, I lost interest when I took one glance at the building. It looked run-down: the paint was faded and scratched, some windows were missing, and when you entered the lobby it looked like a set of a horror film. When I rode the elevator, my anxiety levels shot up because it screeched mad loud as it went up, the lights were flickering, and it was kind of small (which made me feel claustrophobic). I wanted to leave right then and there, but I figured it was too late to back out because I already confirmed for the interview and I was already in the building, I didn’t want to waste my effort and money. I got in the office and it looked as horrifying as the lobby. It smelled like feet, there were office chairs turned upside down on tables, there were some broken office chairs piled up in the corner, and there were no stalls or cubicles — just one giant table in the middle of the room and what looked like fifty people seated around it. The sight made me feel uncomfortable, but of course, I couldn’t leave now.
I proceeded with the interview (which was quick) then they gave me a writing exam where I needed to rewrite three articles in my own words. I struggled with it because I didn’t understand the instructions.
The instructions were this: I had to rewrite some articles using my own words (that was easy to understand); I also had to add more information to the article (alright, fair enough), but I wasn’t allowed to use other resources, only the articles given to me; I had to write a summary of each article, but it must be longer than the article itself? now they’ve lost me.
I didn’t know if the instructions were vague or if I’m dumb. I guess they were testing my stock knowledge when I had to add information to the article without using other resources, but this was difficult for me because the topics were about Artificial Intelligence, Engineering, Electronics, and Parenthood (topics I don’t know jack squat about). In addition, who writes a summary longer than the article itself? That’s not a summary, that’s a review/comment of the article. I know I could have asked for clarifications but I was too nervous and uneasy to say anything, occasionally I would mutter ‘yes’, ‘okay’, ‘thank you’.
After an hour of suffering, the interviewer told us (I was with two other people who were killing the exam) that we could have our lunch break and come back to finish the exam and talk about the results of our interview. Thank God! Finally, a way out.
I ran out of that building as fast as I could, rapidly getting as far away from it as possible, rode a jeepney to wherever then treated myself to a nice meal to calm myself. Mind you, I literally rode a jeepney to wherever just to get away, I had to walk far and ask for directions because I didn’t know where I was (I disembarked at the last stop). Now, I’m not talking crap about the company itself, maybe it’s a great company…. that’s in an appalling building, I bet the employees love it there, maybe the pay is good; but I will never know because firstly, I didn’t check the reviews beforehand, and secondly, I never gave it a chance (or gave myself a chance for that matter). The interviewer texted me two hours later telling me to come back to discuss the final results, I wanted to reply I have no intention of going back, however, I couldn’t think of a reason. Of course, I had a reason! But I can’t tell them that (obviously), and it wasn’t a valid reason (at least, for me it is). So I did what every sensible person would do: I ignored the text.
I’m glad they didn’t call me or bug me to return, I would have blocked their number to avoid them. Lesson learned: always do your research on the companies you’re applying for: reviews, salary, location, social media accounts, websites, everything.
Landing My First Job
Two months later and I still didn’t have a job. I felt the panic creeping in because almost all my classmates were working already and my mom was pressuring me to get a job already (even though I explained I have been looking for a job for the past 2 months). I was frustrated and annoyed because I felt left out from my friends, they were earning for themselves and buying the stuff they wanted while I was stuck at home not able to leave the house because I had no savings of my own; the only time I was able to go out was when they paid for my travel fare and bought me food. It was embarrassing, even though they were happy and willing to treat me to hang out with me, I still felt ashamed.
I was at a point of desperation that I ended up applying for every job opening I saw (as long as I was qualified for it). This time I learned my lesson: I check out the reviews of the company first before sending my application and if they are good, I send.
I came across this ESL company at a job site, and surprisingly enough, it seemed promising. The job opening was for an ESL teacher to teach English to Koreans and Japanese. Upon looking at the Facebook page of this company, I got the impression that it had a good environment. I saw pictures of leadership training seminars, team buildings, charity events, etc., this intrigued me. I searched more about the company (especially the reviews) and thought it would be a good first job. The reviews weren’t that bad, some people complained the pay was really low, but that wasn’t a problem for me because I didn’t need a high-paying job, I just needed a job to gain experience. Some said they still had to go to work during regular and special non-working holidays, but I didn’t mind either. So I sent my resume, got a phone interview the very next day, then immediately got hired.
Now, being an ESL teacher was the last thing on my list, I made a vow that I will only apply for this position when all else fails. It’s not that I have anything against ESL teachers (it’s a nice job, don’t get me wrong), it’s just not what I wanted. However, I was getting really desperate at this point, so I applied.
I was called for training three weeks after I got hired; it was a good amount of time for me to get all the requirements ready. I had a lot of fun during our four weeks of training because I met a lot of great people; I made some friends who went to the same college as I did and with people I had a lot in common with; and I genuinely had fun every day. I was excited to go to work because I was happy to be with them.
I passed the training; sadly though, not all my newly-found friends got in.
The job was very okay (it wasn’t the best thing on earth; it wasn’t the worst thing either). I struggled with the classes because I didn’t know how to handle the class in a professional way (I just handled it the way we were taught how to handle it), whenever I was faced with an unexpected scenario, my mind goes completely blank. I had a difficult time with my intonation; whenever I try to sound happy or concerned, or if I commend the student, it just sounds forced and not genuine. I received a lot of coaching because of this weakness I couldn’t fix.
Five months on the job and I already felt like giving up. It wasn’t because I constantly performed badly (I’ve had better days) or that there was anything wrong with the company, the job just wasn’t for me, I wasn’t passionate about this. I always felt drained after work, granted I just sat the whole day talking to people for 10 or 20 minutes. I sometimes would cry myself to sleep thinking “is this as good as it’s gonna get?” I wake up feeling anxious and afraid, dreading the thought of having to go to work again. Occasionally, a few minutes before my shift begins, I would feel like bursting into tears because of all the anxiety I was feeling; my hands would shake, I would feel a lump on my throat, and I couldn’t think straight. People would be talking to me and, although I hear them, my brain wasn’t processing what they were saying — this is how I know I’ve cracked.
Around November, I felt the urge to resign. The urge was so strong, I couldn’t “fake it till I make it” anymore. I was so confident and excited to submit my resignation letter; I got advice from my friends who told me it’s better to quit (they were worried that I might get depressed); I got the blessing of my Mom who told me it’s okay to quit and pursue my passion, but I hesitated because of two things: 1.) I realized something and 2.) Something (or someone) happened that stopped me. I realized if I quit in November, I would have to render 30 days, so I would probably be jobless mid-week of December. December isn’t a good time to be jobless because it was almost Christmas; I was planning to buy presents for my family and friends, how could I do that if I don’t have a job? I wouldn’t have money to spend on gifts because I would have to save, so the timing wasn’t right.
Next, I met a student who changed everything. Technically, we’re supposed to have a different student every day. We don’t get to choose our students and vice versa, our system is the one that distributes the classes to each teacher. Surprisingly enough, I got this student on November 11 (yes, I remember the date), and we’ve been having a class every day ever since (which is weird because this wasn’t supposed to happen).
Every day for 20 minutes we tackled the book in the system we use at work; we both had to read the dialogue, complete the sentence pattern, teach him similar expressions, then answer the questions on the book. One day, we didn’t finish all the activities in the book because we enjoyed talking to each other so much that we forgot we had a book to follow. I noticed that kept happening in the following weeks: we would finish one activity on the book then end up chatting about whatever, so I figured what’s the point of using the book? What I did when he answered my call, I instantly asked him what is it he wants to talk about, he would give a topic, then our class would revolve around that given topic. It was fun; we got to learn so much about each other.
In my opinion, having a conversation was better than following the book; also, he was too smart and expressive to limit him to just reading dialogues and completing sentence patterns (that’s child’s play), he needed to be challenged with deep conversations. We talked about various things: love, family, friends, work, the future, likes, dislikes, my favorite one was about religion and the supernatural world (maybe I’ll write about it in a different narrative). Long story short, this kept me sane at work; I didn’t resign because I wanted to talk and get to know him more. Also, money became one of my motivations for working; I loved the fact that if I wanted something I could buy it without hesitation; if I craved something, I can easily buy it. Hence, I stayed in the company longer. But money isn’t the best motivator.
Any time seemed like the wrong time for me to quit. December wasn’t the right time because it’s Christmas; January wasn’t right because I didn’t want to start the year jobless; it was during the time between February and March when I felt the urge again to leave. The feeling of anxiety came back again; I felt exhausted despite not having much physical activity; no matter what I did (or what other people did for me) I lacked motivation; I had trouble sleeping; I was angry all the time; I constantly had headaches, and I found it difficult to concentrate. I came to the point where I couldn’t handle it anymore, so I submitted my resignation letter in the first week of March.
Quitting was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made; it wasn’t something I decided on overnight, this was something I’ve been mulling over for a long time. It was also the saddest thing I had to do because there were so many great things about the company and the job itself, yet I still felt emotionally exhausted. I continually prayed for this decision, I kept asking advice from my family and friends, I kept reflecting, and weighing the pros and cons. Finally, the day came where I felt at peace with my decision. The truth is, even though I wanted to quit a long time ago, I never felt at peace with the decision, maybe that’s why the timing was a big problem for me and I made a bunch of excuses not to quit. It wasn’t because I was starting to like my job, but because I knew deep down, I was perturbed by the decision. It’s really hard to explain what it feels like to be at peace with something because it’s different for everyone; for me, I just knew. All fear was gone, I stopped overthinking about it, I felt excited yet calm, and all circumstances led me to this decision. I know it wasn’t practical because I’ve only been there for 10 months and we were at the beginning of a pandemic, but when I thought about retracting my resignation or even extending, I just felt agitated and stressed again.
I don’t know what the future holds.
Only God is certain, so I hold on to His promises that everything will be okay.
It’s been 3 months now and I still haven’t found a job, it’s either I’m unqualified or I’m too picky in choosing a company. Sometimes it scares me that I haven’t landed a new job yet; it’s frightening not to know how long I will be jobless because if it takes too long, I might become too comfortable staying at home and become lazy.
There will always be that fear of the future; the fear of the unknown. I guess you just need to find a way to overcome it.
I think what I’m most afraid of is being at the point of desperation again that I end up applying for a job I don’t really want. I don’t ever wanna feel what I’ve felt in my first job again.
Sometimes I would reflect on my past decisions and how they affect me right now. I ask myself if I regret leaving my first job earlier than planned (originally, I planned on staying there for a year), and I don’t regret it. If I didn’t quit, I wouldn’t have a lot of free time; if I didn’t have a lot of free time, I wouldn’t be able to explore and enhance my skills in digital arts. What I do regret though is never giving myself a chance to get to know people. I knew from the beginning I wasn’t gonna stay for a long time (1 year was my limit), because of that I didn’t make that many friends; I didn’t want to make things hard for myself if I leave and I didn’t want anyone to persuade me to stay.
Looking back, I remember a lot of people approached me and engaged in conversation, I also remember my Team Leader inviting me to team dinners and/or team outings, but since I told myself I should never get attached to anyone at work, I blocked and rejected everyone (except for two people; they were good friends). That’s what I regret because there were so many possible good friendships that could have bloomed (if only I lightened up). I guess that’s something I need to work on.
I’m taking the time right now to rediscover what I love to do and what I can do, I’m also learning new skills that are relevant to my dream job. I know “living the American dream” isn’t an option right now since we’re in the middle of a pandemic (and nowhere near the end), but I know things will get better. The Bible says “For everything, there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…” I should learn to enjoy the season I am in right now because one day, I will get a job and work for 8 hours (or more), deal with people, handle some paperwork, and whatever responsibilities I have . Until that day comes, I’ll seize the day!