A Career is Not a Job by Becca Vandekemp

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Is anyone else sick of being asked about what career they are trying to obtain?

I am.

From a university graduate’s perspective, calling the current professional job market terrible would be an understatement. Youth unemployment is ridiculously high in Canada, and it’s unlikely that that will change any time soon.

Poor us.

We’ve come all this way and worked so hard to surpass our parents, qualifying ourselves for great jobs that we can’t even access. Poor, poor us.

There’s something we’ve been missing. Things have changed.

The job market has changed, leaving permanent positions in the yesteryears, providing us young wannabe professionals with short term, part time, in lieu of benefits positions more than anything else, if we’re lucky enough to avoid factories, food services, or retail. We can’t afford to believe that this is going to change.

Further, we’ve changed, naively believing that our degrees, diplomas, and certificates are fast-track tickets to the jobs of our dreams. We scramble for paper because we were told to, because we don’t know what else to do, or because we’re “too smart” to do anything else. After we get those papers, many of us scramble for even more papers. We’ve all heard the, “I don’t know what I want to do yet so I’m just going to get my Masters” statements from our peers, if not from our own mouths.

What we’re forgetting is that we’re not all that impressive with our pretty papers. We’re a dime a dozen. Yeah, it burns.

Paper, it seems, just isn’t enough.

It sucks, really. The cost of an undergraduate degree, if you include tuition, additional fees, housing, and lost wages from four years of not working (which few calculations of education costs include), can easily equal over $100,000. That’s one expensive piece of paper.

What burns even more is that it used to be enough. A bachelor’s degree set you apart. It made you something special. It got you your career.

Now, it seems that it just makes you kinda sad.

Yeah, its time to break out the w/h/ine. The pity party has been raging all year long.

–OR–

We can do something about it. 

Starting with swallowing our pride, we can recognize that entry-level jobs are fine. If nothing else, they’ll pay our rent and give us a chance to prove ourselves capable, trustworthy, and worth promoting.

Live with mom all you want, but we can’t sit on our butts and do nothing. Take the jobs you can get, and prove yourself. And, on the side, as much as you can, get involved in your field. Make connections, get experience, and gather something to show for yourself.

And then, do something more important than any of those things.

Get real about careers.

The market has changed, but so have we. The classic “career” is not a job–it’s a journey. And the sooner we come to terms with this, the better.

I believe in us. There is hope for us to live debt-free with nice homes, good jobs, and the means to care for our families. But it.takes.time… and effort.

There’s no doubt that the job market for people like us is in a sorry state, so let’s prove our resilience. Let’s get realistic about how we define our careers, and let’s acknowledge that our careers have already begun.

Let’s face it. The pity party is a gong show anyway.

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