Monday, July 25, 2011

Wanted: Experience

As I’ve waded through the Internet searching for jobs, I’ve been lucky enough to find a few that I really like. As in, I would kill to get that particular job. (Okay, not really…)

The point, though, is that the world DOES indeed have jobs that sound right up my alley.  For example, doing research for the Middle Eastern desk for the Council on Foreign Relations. Or filling the junior editor position at an online publication about politics and world events.  Or working for an Arab media production company.  I DO speak some Arabic; that should help get my foot in the door, right?


Turns out, employers don’t care all that much about my international experience, my extra-curriculars, my ability to adapt, my sociability and work ethic.  I think employers look for one main thing, and if that thing is not stamped boldly on your resume then your application is thrown out before you can shout Wait, I’m a quick learner! 

Here’s a comic to give you a hint, in case you’re not a senior and you have no idea what I’m talking about (and in case you missed the title of this post):

Employers want experience.

That’s fair of them, I guess, but sometimes their expectations seem as ridiculous as the comic above.  For an entry-level position, something as straightforward as research or answering phones, they want 2 – 5 years of relevant experience?

Or a junior editor position, they want 10 years of experience?

Holy Jimminy, how are we supposed to gain experience if no one will hire us because we lack it?  And furthermore, after 10 years of experience why on earth would I apply for your lousy Junior Editor position? I think I’d rather go to my hometown and take over the local paper there.  Be the Editor-in-Chief.  In your face, Junior Editor.

You see, it’s a vicious cycle.  I don’t have experience, you don’t hire me.  But in order to gain experience, someone somewhere someday will simply HAVE to hire me.  Someone will take a chance on the recent grad, right?

I sincerely hope so.  However, I believe that the only escape from this paradox is…the internship.

Ahem, let me re-phrase: the UNPAID internship.

This leads me into another topic and another completely separate cycle of helpless rage, so I’ll leave it here for today.  Quick preview though: My undergraduate education, for which I paid $30,000+ for four years, is no longer sufficient to catapult me into the working world.

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