Before the pandemic, I worked every day of the week. I was in my office so often that people from other departments thought that I was a full-time employee. I worked in University Event Management as a student staff member for three years.
I got the job because one of my former bosses, who recently retired after many years of service, liked the forest green manicure I was wearing when I came into the office. Like many of you who plan student events, I walked in worried about planning an event for the Black Students’ Organization.
I spent all my time outside of class working, going back and forth countless times from seminars to my office. It paid my balance every semester, and it is allowing me to graduate debt-free. I sacrificed a lot for that job. I didn’t have the same time to prepare for classes like I wanted to; I cut down on my social time with friends. But now, as a senior looking to graduate, I am excited to experience the financial freedom that is going to allow me to pursue my doctoral degree (hopefully and tentatively) with ease of mind.
This economic freedom also allows me to take a year or two off before I return back to university; I am excited for this time away. However, after I began looking for jobs, I recognized how working during my time at Columbia is affecting my job search. On the one hand, I have skills, work experience, and work relationships that will help me transition into working full-time. As such, I feel confident in my ability to excel in any position that I find myself in. But on the other hand, balancing work had also been a problem of mine.
As I had previously mentioned in my column, I worked from sunup to sundown, and most days, I was scrambling to get everything done. My life was a day-to-day dash compounded with the loss of my grandmother and the loss of a close personal friend from high school over winter break. So the battle has been finding the time to look for jobs. In our rush to be employed, I don’t think we tend to take into account that it takes a lot of time and effort to find a job. We see jobs as things that just happen—part of the future that our education has promised us. But it takes work and time to find a job, especially to find one that will make us feel content.
Now with the pandemic going on around us, so much is even more uncertain. We run the risk of job offers being rescinded and of fellowships and positions being postponed or canceled. So, even if we are putting in the time to look for a job, we are faced with uncertainty. As we head toward an economic slump, the unemployment rates are going to go up and the hiring rates are going to go down.
This is especially daunting to the college graduate who is entering the job market facing this uncertainty. Because no one—not our university, not our country, not our global governing organizations—is sure what direction we are headed, and it is hard for us to be sure of ourselves.
That personal uncertainty is a normal reaction to facing a cloudy future, but we will brave it to find our futures unfold in front of us once again. This is like the uncertainty I felt, trying to figure out how to pay my E-bill alone at 18. Somehow, we are all one moment, one bit of good news, or one at-home manicure away from a new experience. We get through it all, we move on, and we remember hard times with nostalgia because the ability to remember these times positively means that we have encountered some peace. We will find our futures because they will unfold in front of us, even as the situation with the coronavirus progresses. We will find some form of peace if we work for it, if we find the time, and if we offer dedication to it. We deserve it.
Sabina Jones is a senior at Columbia College majoring in English and Hispanic studies. This is her final column for the semester. Please contact her with any comments, concerns, job offers, or questions you had about her column Transatlantic Trade, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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