A Penny for Your Thoughts

?Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.?

Joseph Campbell, American mythologist (1904 – 1987)

To Whom It May Concern: As you will see from the attached resumé . . .

I have written those words quite a few times in recent weeks. My academic journey at Athabasca is nearly over and I’m beginning to look for gainful employment. Unfortunately, gainful employment doesn’t appear to be looking for me.

I’m not sure if it is today’s sensitive economy, my age, too many credentials or not enough, but jobs don’t seem to be as plenteous as they were even five years ago.

So, what’s a grad to do?

Two-thirds of all AU undergraduate students are female, and many of us are well over 29. For those of us who did not start our university journey straight out of high school, we are at or near ?mid-life? as we look for our first job out of university.

Somehow I thought it would be easier.

As I have already realized, this new road is rife with pitfall and promise. Since I prefer to position myself on the side of promise, in the spirit of forward thinking and self-motivation I purchased a new bumper sticker: Focus on your hopes, not your fears.

As I handed over a toonie for the sticker?a poignant motto for my current state of being?I received a penny in change. I don’t know why, but as I held that little one-cent piece I was reminded of the kafuffle it created a few years ago when Bank of Canada economists suggested the penny be retired from circulation. In that instant, the penny became a powerful symbol for resilience for me as I persevere through this semester of unemployment. I carry it with me as a reminder to focus on the mettle within. I have great skills and now a wonderful education, and although I’m not 21, I am nowhere near ready for retirement!

Joseph Campbell once said, ?Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.? Well, I discovered three doors that lead to a large percentage of jobs, and I want to open them for you today.

Door 1: Your local newspaper and your favourite online recruiting site (my favourites are idealist.org and charityvillage.com). It’s estimated that some 10 per cent of all jobs are found this way. Good to know.

Door 2: Your local placement agencies. Here in Ottawa I signed up with two wonderful organizations: Red Chair HR and Excel HR. If you haven’t found an agency you are comfortable with, stay positive and keep searching.

Okay, we have one door left and, according to some estimates, it can lead to as many as 80 per cent of jobs. So, do you want to know what marvel of employment awaits you behind door number three?

It’s your Rolodex!

Wherever you keep your contacts?on your desk, in your laptop or cell phone (or, if You’re like me, a weathered spiral-bound book with hundreds of Post-it notes)?dust it off and start networking. A surprisingly high percentage of all jobs are found by the simple and persistent act of mining your very own contacts.

Who knew?

The point, as I am learning, is to be open to everything and attached to nothing. Which brings me, full-circle, to the To Whom It May Concern issue. Although I am following my bliss to graduate school, I also want to follow my bliss to the bank. To do that, I need to remain flexible, positive, and conscientious in my job search.

To close with more of Campbell, ?We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.?

A penny for your thoughts?

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