I am a licensed attorney looking for a waitressing job.
Saying it aloud makes me start crying all over again. It’s a ridiculous thought, isn’t it? The idea that the person carrying pizza to your table could be in front of a judge in a courtroom is laughable. It’s a sketch on Saturday Night Live. At some point, my life became worthy of parody. And the worst part? I have no idea how to fix it.
The myth that’s passed from person to person is that when you get an advanced degree there’s a job waiting for you and that there’s really nothing to worry about. The best advice I ever got from my career center was how to choose pantyhose. It’s neither good nor helpful advice, but it’s better than the other advice I got: Twitter. Not how to use Twitter, not what Twitter is good for, just that I should be on Twitter. At least the pantyhose advice was practical.
This is why I found the second presidential debate so frustrating. The very first question was from a college student worried about the job market. Neither candidate answered the question very well at all, and one referred to all the manufacturing jobs he was going to bring back. As someone with experience in labor law, I can guarantee you that I’m more likely to get a job serving pizza than I am to get a job working in a factory. Moreover, a factory job doesn’t really do much for most college grads, unless their degrees are in business, human resources, or engineering. Manufacturing jobs are not the answer to our job deficit problem; we need jobs for skilled laborers. Trust me, I don’t want the pizza job, but I’ll take it from someone else to pay my car insurance.
In the legal world, firms are starting to hire again, but with all the people who were laid off three years ago, why would any firm take a brand new graduate when it can have an attorney with experience? Competition is fierce, and when you have no idea what you’re doing, it feels like you’re spinning your wheels. Trust me, I know. And please don’t tell me to “network.” Network is a fake word, like synergy. It doesn’t mean anything unless you’re a natural. If you’re shy like me, the idea of introducing yourself to a stranger and not knowing where to go from there? Terrifying and nigh on impossible.
While I have an incredibly difficult time asking for help, rather than curl up and cry in my closet, I thought I would throw my questions to the smartest, most diverse group of ladies I know. What should you send with an unsolicited resume? How do you make business connections? And what questions should I ask at the dreaded “networking” event? (I still don’t think that’s a real word, but everyone keeps saying it’s important.) I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only person who needs to know this but is afraid to ask about it. So let’s hear it ladies (and certain gentlemen). What is your best job-hunting tip? Help me and the other P-Maggers out there who have no idea what they’re doing. Until then, I’ll be serving pizza and beer with a license to practice law in my back pocket.