Nothing like $86,000 in Student Loans and No Job.

Right out of college, I was immediately hit in the face with extreme college debt, see blog post here. The great recession was going full throttle, and no job prospects. It’s partly my fault though for drinking that sweet sweet cool aid they gave me 4 years earlier along with their unprecedented 99% job placement. Granted, in their defense, there’s no way they could have anticipated the recession hitting when it did, nor could I. Thanks big banks! High five!

The field I majored it, was hit particularly hard, the construction industry. Up until 3 months before graduation, I actually had a pretty good internship with a local company who I fully expected to receive an offer from, who then dropped the bomb on me that they couldn’t bring me on full time. At that point, all the career fairs were over and I was S.O.L. I immediately begin throwing my resume out there and reaching out to all the people I could who could help land me an interview, but it was brutal. It’s like the job market just up and vanished. No one would respond to your requests, job postings were empty, recruiters wouldn’t even respond to an email unless I had 10 years experience. It sucked.

When I graduated, I felt like a failure, I felt used, I felt like I had been chewed up and spit out. All throughout school, it wasn’t “who do you want to work for?”, it was “where do you want to go?”. Like I mentioned in my earlier post, I hate pity and I’m not looking for it. That was the past and I’m far from it at this point, but it wasn’t easy building myself back up.

I literally would throw my resume out to anyone who would accept it, most submissions were through company websites, but it was literally hundreds of submissions. I remember getting an interview, which was unheard in itself, for a company in Chicago. They put me up in a hotel and it was me vs. 5 other prospects. I thought I had nailed the interview. I had great internship experience, decent grades and was a likeable guy. Well, they didn’t choose me and come to find out, it was only a formality to have an outsider come and interview, as the person that got the job was an intern already working there. To this day, I still hold a grudge against the company.

A few months later, I had an interview for a company in Colorado Springs, CO. A goddamn awesome location so I was thrilled. They flew me in early morning, interviewed me and offered me a job on the spot and gave me the rest of the day to think about it, then drove me back to the airport to catch my evening flight out. I was ecstatic. The next morning, I got a phone call from their HR telling me the offer was rescinded because, as it turns out, the guy that hired me wasn’t authorized and they weren’t actually looking, or some bull crap excuse like that.

So there I was, 6 months deep into this unemployment spell, collecting unemployment ($300/wk), loans in forbearance (all I could afford were the interest payments, ~$350/month) and I was depressed. I had kept in close contact with the CM (construction management) director at school and he forwarded an email to me from a company looking for part-time help as an estimator. I happened to be the only one to apply and got the gig. Although it wasn’t exactly the bells and whistles I was hoping for, it was at least a foot in the door and some viable experience on my resume. The job paid around $12.00/hr and I worked maybe 15 hours a week, but I was hopeful it would keep me afloat in the interim.

4 months after this part-time job, I found another estimating position online for a local company that was offering a full-time opportunity. I was one of three who interviewed and I ended getting the position which was a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders. I could finally breathe and start living my life. The job paid OK, I think $35,000 starting out, far from the $55,000 my counterparts were earning, wasn’t exactly the most fascinating or even remotely what I wanted to do, but it was another huge step in the right direction to a brighter future. I ended up spending 2 years there until the construction market turned around.

After those 2 years, a friend of mine from school reached out to me and mentioned the company he was working for were looking to hire. 5 years, almost exactly from todays date, I’m still happily employed with the company.

The moral of the story is this, life is a roller-coaster, full of ups and downs and twists that want to make you throw up. There were a lot of things that went wrong at the worst possible time in my life, but I kept at it. Take what you can get at the time, because there’s no guarantee something better is right around the corner. Call it luck, call it a series of great coincidences, or call it perseverance, but what I can’t call it is quitting.

Series of Events
Internship Gone -> Graduation -> Jobless -> Part-Time Gig -> Full-Time Gig -> Career Gig
Day 1 ———————————3-Weeks—————6-Months———10-Months————2-Years

 

 

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