My Resume

Considering I don’t have a full-time job at the moment, I thought I’d show you the resume I’ve been using to see if any improvements can be made:

Curtis

Geographic location varies arbitrarily and means nothing.

Executive Summary:

Level II frustration candidate with overanalytical expertise and proven proficiency in self-defeatism. Experience in the criticism and cynicism industries. Strong daydreaming skills. Extremely quick learning ability but a failure to follow through on things and a frequent waster of talents.

Experience:

Looking out windows, 1988-present

Making a big deal out of little things, 1988-present

Doing things I don’t care about, 1995-present

Wandering aimlessly, 2006-present

Skills:

Frisbee, Shooting a basketball, Trivia and word games, Algebra, Spelling, Bad puns, Trolling, Driving, Details, Paying bills on time, Betting, Cuddling, Making scrambled eggs, Recognizing songs quickly, Seeing things very far away, Humming, Whistling, Reading to an audience, Deadpan humor, Taking pictures, Playing the trumpet, Picking stocks, Opening and closing doors quietly, Escaping parties, Faking phone calls.

Awards:

Most Likely to Have a Brain Aneurysm, 2013

Best Genuine Social Awkwardness, 2004-2012

Top Game Complainer, 2007-2010

Most Ridiculous Rants, 2006

Worst Girl Skills, 2002-2006

Top Visitor to the Principal’s Office, 1994-1996

 

I’m pretty sure this version of my resume will yield the best results.

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Two Weeks Notice

During my first two years at college, I was ahead of the game. I obtained junior standing by sophomore year. I applied for internships and entry-level finance jobs and got my fair share of interviews. I applied to be an assistant resident advisor and made it to the final round of interviews. I didn’t land anything, but I was given a fair chance, and I knew something else would come up. By the time junior year began, the market tanked. The financial industry and job market were in pieces. I was just finishing up my finance major, so I was applied for advanced positions in addition to the jobs I was already applying for.  But something changed. The same resume and experience that earned me interest before was no longer useful. I no longer could get a response, not to mention an interview.

 

Here are some rough estimates for the last 5 years:

Serious applications to entry-level finance jobs and internships I am qualified for: 800

Since I graduated college with a B.S. in finance: 700

Unpaid positions: 90

Applications to places like Barnes & Noble, JC Penney, Walgreens, Best Buy, coffee shops, medical supply couriers, and anything else under the “Etc.” category: 220

Jobs applied for this year: 200

This summer: 120

Temporary agencies and recruiters I have been in contact with / worked for: 7

 

Here are the results from the 1000+ total job applications:

No response: 860

System-generated “We’re not interested”: 110

Real person “We’re not interested”: 20

Face-to-face interviews: 3

Phone interviews: 2

 

Jobs: A graduate assistant position and a three-month unpaid internship

 

Yes, I have tried networking, and people have put in a good word for me for an open position. This at least gets me a phone call or an email, but it ends up with “You seem smart, but we’re looking for someone with more experience” every time.

I thought once I got graduated college, things would change, but they didn’t. I thought once I got a graduate degree, things would change, but they haven’t.

If I were at least getting interviews and responses like I used to get, I wouldn’t mind the “just keep trying” mentality, but let’s face it: I’m not even close. 0.5% of the time, I get an interview. So far, I have had two very good experiences, but only one single interview from a real entry-level position. That is 0.1%

I have not restricted myself to a specific location or hours. On the contrary, I have applied for overnight and weekend positions, positions in North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Europe, Australia (besides almost every city in Illinois, Florida, and California) and many more.

For those of you who are facing a much better job market, or who grew up when things were much easier, please stop saying I am looking for that “perfect job,” because I’m not. Yes, I have been very confused, but this kind of success rate will make a person question things, will it not? Yes, I have been lucky enough to get to travel and do some fun things. When you’re constantly stressed and depressed and tired of failure, it is okay to take a break and actually try to enjoy yourself, is it not? For those of you who think I’m enjoying “funemployment,” that lasted about one week. It’s not fun. I am not happy having this much spare time. Most of my time is spent trying to make myself more marketable or applying for jobs or stressing about life and trying to find some sort of peace in this crappy situation. I get more worried every day that goes by that I don’t have experience, that I haven’t even started the career path yet. I’m going to be 140 years old by the time I have enough “experience” if things continue like this.

To those of you facing a similar situation, I empathize with you. This really sucks. To those of you who think you have it bad but really don’t, you’re lucky. I envy you.

Almost 5 years of this, and I have been in and out of school and states and countries to delay the inevitable reality of trying to pierce this veil, but there is no more hiding. I am as ready and eager and willing as I can possibly be, yet absolutely nothing has changed.

I just passed Level I of the CFA. Congrats, Curtis! The pass rate was 38%, and I truly didn’t think I did my best, but I am happy to have been successful in something that I worked so hard for. Registration and books for Level I amounted to $1,300. I just paid $1,100 for Level II, which is offered next June. If I am lucky enough to pass that, there is a Level III the next year. If not, I wait another whole year to take the June Level II exam.

I started an LLC to manage investments, but in order to make even a little money in this industry, you have to manage millions of dollars. I have to obtain licenses and pay lawyer fees and register in multiple states and fill out hundreds of pages of paperwork. It is almost impossible for a small fund to make money in this industry since 2008, and I don’t expect to make my costs back anytime soon.

My point is this: the finance job market tanked in 2008, right when I was looking for jobs. I didn’t gain experience in this time because there wasn’t any to be had. Now it is impossible to find even a finance internship, and when I do finally get to talk to a real person, they tell me I don’t have enough experience.

At what point am I supposed to call it quits? I’ve been “hanging in there” for years to no avail. I am wasting valuable time for something that isn’t there. I have to face the reality. Should I say goodbye to finance? Should I continue paying thousands of dollars and spending months intensely studying for a well-known designation that is not gaining me any attention? I don’t even know what to say about the Panera interview I can’t even get.

I am close to giving up. Many of my problems and much of my spontaneity and transience have resulted from this job situation. I am tired of it – anyone would be. I do not feel like a real person when I’m continually treated like nothing.

I will give finance just a little bit more time; I think two weeks will be a good gauge as to where I stand. If nothing has changed by the end of those two weeks, I am re-evaluating my life and placing finance much lower on the priority list.

I don’t have many strengths that easily translate to careers, but I do have many strengths. I can’t change myself overnight, if that is necessary. I would like to work with what I have, yet that is just not working. I wish there was something I could just go do right now, and I would do it.

Yep, I’m complaining, and I have a right to. I am weird and crazy and different and shy, and I have brought some of this upon myself. I deserve more, though. The next two weeks could determine the rest of my life.

Just a rant.

Why I Passionately Love My Major

Rant number 1: Getting past security. Security being the forces between me and a job.

I’ve been struggling to find finance jobs. The only ones available are mislabeled accounting jobs and finance sales, which has been the case for years. There are a few other openings, but it seems only an exclusive list of guests are allowed even in the waiting area. A couple days ago, I received this email after I sent in a resume and made a brief phone call asking about the position:

 

 

“Thank you for your continued interest in the Investment Banking Analyst Intern position with XX Partners. At this time we will be moving forward with other candidates for this position.

We do believe, however, you are on the right track, but that you could benefit from more financial modeling experience. We would like to formally invite you to attend a free 4-hour online investment banking training session hosted by XX Edge.”

 

 

This did not settle well, and you’ll see why in the following response from a very ticked off Curtis:

 

 

“Sophomores, juniors, and recent graduates are considered for this position. I received a B.S. in finance in 2010, and I just received my M.S. in financial analysis. I don’t appreciate being told I need more financial modeling experience when 1) I have more schooling in finance than most people you are considering, and 2) you did not care at all to ask what modeling experience I have.

In no way, shape, or form was there any semblance of an inquiry into my financial modeling experience, and not once was it mentioned in the application process or the phone call I made.

Thank God the session you mention is free, though, and thank God it asks users to sign up for a paid service before the initial session begins! Thank you for the offer, but please do not insult my intelligence by using such an excuse to get me to consider spending even more on a major / career path that has proven to be a moneymaking machine for the involved beneficiaries (graduate school, the CFA program, licenses, finance journals, and training courses).

Bright young finance job hopefuls would rather be told the truth; we’re lied to enough in this profession. Please either put in the effort to look into something you require out of applicants, or do not tell them they are lacking in it as an excuse for your laziness and greed.

Thank you, and have a nice day.”

 

 

This might seem a little mean and unnecessary on my part, but if you knew the nature of my frustrating years of job searching – add to it the fact that this kind of impersonal drivel is the only thing I can seem to elicit from people in charge of hiring – you would understand.

And this is an unpaid position.

 

 

Rant number 2: Selling myself.

I did not sign up to be a salesman. I signed up to be me, Curtis, and the task of marketing myself is wearing on me.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, online resumes, and the like are ways for us to express ourselves to the world in a creative way. We can show who we are instead of being just a name. The problem is, we know potential employers are using social media more than ever to screen applicants. With the potential for these secret third-party views, we can’t simply be “ourselves.” At least for my generation, we must leave out certain details or glorify others. This has become a game of exaggeration and borderline lying. Character is who we are when others aren’t around. Character is what matters, not who we are when we know others are watching. I hate lying or exaggerating or leaving out parts of myself just to compete with others who are doing the same in hopes of being recognized.

Regardless of how effective resumes and job fairs and related social media can be, my hatred for the system might be a reason I haven’t found a job yet.

I don’t exaggerate about my abilities. I don’t have much job experience, and I don’t meet certain minimum requirements. This is not a lack of confidence on my part – I have been told these things on numerous occasions, plus I tend to be honest in describing myself to others.

Here is an email resume critique I just received:

 

 

“Dear Curtis,

I’m the ABC resume expert who was assigned to evaluate your resume. I reviewed your resume with the goal of giving you an honest, straightforward assessment of your current resume, and not a judgment of your skills and qualifications.

Having worked with many candidates at your career stage, I have some insight into what you are probably looking for in your next job. Most of my recent graduate clients have course work, internships, and real work experience that if positioned correctly, make them ideal candidates to skip over entry-level job openings. By targeting jobs which give opportunities to gain hands-on experience right away, you can fast track your career instead of starting at the bottom.

Ironically, most job seekers at your stage in their career write resumes that are targeted toward a job that is below their level of education and experience. Their resumes are full of the tasks they performed and responsibilities they had, but these do not tell the recruiter or hiring manager the impact that their recent degree can have for a company. They don’t highlight their areas of expertise and as a result they do not distinguish themselves from the hundreds of other applicants seeking the same job.

So, let’s get started with a review of your resume:

Here’s the good news: My first impression of you is that you have an impressive array of skills and experiences. You’re an up-and-coming Financial Analyst with a lot to offer an employer. Now, here’s the bad news: Your resume does not pass the 30-second test, and the content is not up to the standards expected from a candidate like you. Countless studies have proven that resume quality is the key determinant for interview selection of qualified candidates. Your resume needs a boost from a visual, content, and overall writing standpoint to engage the reader. It needs to make them want to meet you.

Curtis, your resume is missing key elements that we see on the best resumes at your level of experience. Here are the major issues I see on your resume:

YOUR RESUME’S VISUAL PRESENTATION

We’ve all been told that looks don’t matter as much as substance, but in the case of your resume this just isn’t true. I found your design to be visually uneven and crowded. The appearance is not polished, and it doesn’t say “up and coming Financial Analyst.” The ideal resume design is clean, and uncluttered, with effective and strategic use of white space. Remember your resume is your marketing tool and is the first impression a potential employer has of you. Now – think about how generic brands are marketed versus the name brand. Packaging, advertising and branding are all carefully selected to attract attention and convince you to buy. Your resume should do the same thing- you want to be the brand name product. I’m concerned that your resume is not selling your brand and does not stand out against other candidates.

THE CONTENT OF YOUR RESUME

While reading your resume, I imagined myself as a hiring executive, looking for that ideal Financial Analyst. I asked myself if I could easily pick out your key attributes, experience, skills and accomplishments. A recruiter will do this to quickly decide if you’ll be successful in the job role. Critical elements in your resume may be holding you back and I have listed a few observations here:

For someone in the early stages of their career, an objective statement at the top of your resume makes good sense. An objective statement tells a prospective employer what position you are seeking, and should also reflect what you can bring to the company. An objective statement should be concise and clear, but not limit your opportunities.

From the way the resume is worded, you come across as a “doer,” not an “achiever.” Too many of your job descriptions are task-based and not results-based. This means that they tell what you did, instead of what you achieved. This is a common mistake for non-professional resume writers. To be effective and create excitement, a great resume helps the hiring executive “envision” or “picture” you delivering similar achievements at his or her company. Here are some examples of task-based sentences in your resume:

  • Worked with company finances to develop a working model for the future
  • Performed research to find early adopters and potential investors

Employers want to know about your previous contributions and specifically how you’ve made a difference. More importantly, they want to know how you are going to make a significant difference at their company.

When I read your resume, I didn’t find compelling language that brings your work to life. I saw many passive words and non-action verbs. Phrases like “performed” and “worked with” are overused, monotonous, and add no value to your resume. Strong action verbs, used with compelling language to outline exemplary achievements, are essential parts of a well-constructed resume.

Now, let’s put it all together. Here’s a real life example taken from a former client’s resume. By changing the language, we helped improve the perception of the candidate.

  • Passive language/ Doing: Negotiated contracts with vendors
  • Action language/ Achieving: Slashed payroll/benefits administration costs 30% by negotiating pricing and fees, while ensuring the continuation and enhancements of services.

A change like this makes a dramatic improvement.

THE WRITING ON YOUR RESUME

It’s easy to overlook errors in your resume. They could be typographical errors, inconsistent verb tenses, grammatical errors, punctuation problems, or misspelled words. You’ve rewritten the resume and proofed it multiple times so you may not notice the issue. But errors can be the kiss of death for your resume. Recruiters are reading your resume with fresh eyes, and they’re experts at finding errors. A misspelled word or punctuation error may not seem like a big deal, but to an employer these errors demonstrate unprofessionalism and a lack of attention to detail. That’s not the impression you want to leave.

MY RECOMMENDATION

Your unique skills and experience are good. But your resume, as it’s currently written, is not likely to get you the attention you deserve. I understand it can be uncomfortable to hear, but if you want to get hired or further your career in today’s super competitive job market, you must nail that first impression. And your resume is the ticket you need to do it.

That’s why I recommend that you have your resume professionally rewritten.

Research, as well as feedback from thousands of our satisfied customers who’ve had their resume rewritten by one of our Certified Resume Writers, told us this: A professionally written resume results in two to three times more interviews. What’s more, job seekers who have their resumes rewritten by ABC feel dramatically more confident in interviews. It’s as if they have an extra skip in their step and they can’t wait to show it and upload it!

Why not have a friend or colleague help write your resume?

Many employers now use automated tracking systems to evaluate and screen their incoming resumes. To be “processed” properly by one of these systems, a resume must be built with the right structure, keywords, and format. This is known as keyword optimization, and most non-professionals are not well-versed in this technique.

However, our industry-best resume writers are continuously updated on the newest trends, keywords and phrases. They work directly with hiring managers, recruiters and HR personnel, so they know precisely what kind of resumes and cover letters get their attention. And ABC resume writers don’t use templates! Your resume is written to capture your distinctive skills, personality and industry.

Special Offer on a New Resume
If you purchase our resume service, you’ll pay only $349.00 with the option to spread out your payments in five (5) easy installments of just $75.00. Order today!”

 

 

Wow, five easy installments, you say? Good thing it shares that feature with ridiculous infomercial products. And it’s not like I have to spend an insane amount of money on other finance-related things.

I don’t think much commentary is necessary. I am not going to respond like I did with the other email, but this is ridiculous. I can’t stand this aspect of the business world or the job hunt. I don’t want to exaggerate or add action verbs for the sake of glorifying a piece of paper. Maybe I will change my resume a bit, but I will do it with the feeling that I’m selling my soul to the devil.

Sometimes I contemplate why I’m doing something 75% of which I despise, but maybe I’m just tired.

 

One of these days, this nonsense won’t be an issue. One of these days.

Too Stressed to Think of Title

Ever since I was old enough to have tasks and assignments and best friends, I have suffered from crippling anxiety. I now remember why I have so often found myself with no obligations, bored, searching for things to do with my life half-heartedly. It’s not because I am apathetic about life; it’s because I instinctively avoid innate stress triggers without consciously knowing it.

I coasted through most of middle school, junior high, and high school with flashes of brilliance but with little effort and only above average results. I knew I was smart and not lazy, but once homework really started pouring in, I was unable to focus on it enough to get it thoroughly finished. If I actually wanted to do it, it would take me all night because of the focus issues. Instead, I put in 3/4ths effort and spent the remainder of my time playing or watching sports and enjoying adolescence and friendships. I realized that spending 2 hours or less doing homework at a B to B+ level was much better than spending 8 hours or more doing homework at an A- to A level. But things changed when senior year of high school rolled around.

I realized I needed to actually try, to put my all into tough classes to increase my GPA for college applications. Most senior schedules are a joke, but mine consisted entirely of AP or some form of advanced classes. Just one class alone meant a significant amount of work outside the classroom for anyone, but six of them? What was I doing?

 

I was on Zoloft by the time senior year had ended…

 

College applications and essays, standardized tests, scholarships, growing insecurities and social anxiety, college credit classes, senior year bureaucratic stuff, graduation, church, college visits, a bittersweet awareness of friendships that will end or be altered, work, extracurriculars, senioritis, joint custody, family apprehension about losing me soon, etc. These are things we all have to face, but I don’t know how anyone is able to tackle it all and stay sane. My mind amplifies the stress by stressing over stress.

I knew this year would be a ton of work. I was fully prepared for the amount of homework and studying I would need to do, even on weekends and/or at the expense of hanging out with friends. What I was not prepared for, however, was the mental toll that would take place. Here is how a typical day would go: wake up, eat breakfast, fight back nervous feeling in stomach about schoolwork and what classes would have in store for me today. Brush teeth. Fight back nervous feeling about the girl I kind of liked. Stress over it to the point where I make myself think I have a huge crush. Drive to school. See the girl. The stress in the back of my mind tells me I obviously am crazy about this girl since I think about her so much (even though “thinking about her” is just quantity of thoughts, not quality or magnitude of crush). First class. Focus on listening and taking notes and retaining as much information as possible. Imagine test questions. Second class. Think about first class while also listening and taking notes and retaining information for tests. Third class. Think about first and second while focusing. Think about girl. Think about thinking about girl. Think about thinking about homework. Lunch. Think about all the homework I need to do. Last three classes. Bell rings. Think about how much work I will have to do when I get home. (Everyone else’s day is over, and they’re all smiling and sigh in relief. My day is just beginning. I can’t smile or think about being relaxed). Think about getting home and being anxious. Get home. Anxiously think about girl and homework. Eat a quick snack if there is time. Go to quiet place and do work. Eat quick dinner. Say no to friends who want to hang out. Do homework until it is all done. When it is all done, do work for the future. Study notes for future tests to keep my mind fresh. Lay in bed. Think about girl. Think about social anxiety and friends. Think about work that still needs to be done. Combine thinking about girl, social anxiety and friends, and work that still needs to be done into one overwhelming consolidated thought. Try but fail to sleep. Think about anything else that causes stress, which leads to less sleep. Focus on breathing in order to sleep, which leads to even less sleep. Get up and do some more studying to reduce the stress I’m feeling. Go to bed somewhat relieved. Sleep a few hours if lucky.

It seemed like I was more anxious when I had very little to do. So I just gave myself more to do. There’s always something, unless you have the entire year’s work complete. I would dream about practice problems. I would wake up answering tough Western Civ multiple choice questions. I would triple-check the homework my Precalc teacher never graded.

I had hidden anxiety: during every single second of my day, I was thinking about something I needed to do in the back of my head. At first, it was a simple reminder to get a certain thing done. But my mind built it up until it was “something to do” and then “a bunch of stuff to do” and then “so much stuff to do” and then “stress.” By this point, I forgot what the original thing was. These constant thoughts overwhelmed my mind. I wouldn’t usually be able to pinpoint a specific task I needed to do (if there was one at all), but because my mind kept reminding me I had things to accomplish and be stressed about, I became stressed. When I actually did have a lot to do, my mind would go into overdrive, and the stress would be augmented. By the time I actually got to a test or a quiz, I felt like I had already taken it multiple times in my mind. That’s good for knowing the material, but the mental strain involved in “taking” that many tests is agonizing.

Because of this, I started losing my mind. I went through the first quarter or so with relative ease. But when the winter approached, nothing was natural anymore. I started overanalyzing. I got obsessed with doing more and more work at a high level. I was burnt out by midterm finals.

When the second semester started, I had nothing left in the tank. I somehow managed to get all A’s and one B, but the quality of work was much lower, and I had to try harder to do easy things. I started having physical issues. I never had eye issues in my life, yet I began to suffer from vision loss. I forgot how to walk up and down stairs, and I frequently tripped. My left eyelid no longer closed completely when I wanted to sleep, so I slept on my left side to push my cheek up to cover the eye.  I started losing a little bit of hair. Everything that could possibly twitch on my body began twitching. I had heartburn and chest pains. I forgot how to breathe, and the more I thought about breathing, the less I could do it naturally. I started having horrible memory. Words stopped having meaning unless I thought about them a few times, in which case I was behind in whatever else was said. I started having horrible sinus headaches. My heartbeat could be seen and heard more from random places, like my thumbs and ears. I forgot how to eat. I even forgot how to spell as well. Much of this was the constantly increasing obsession over thinking stemming from schoolwork, which simply translated to overthinking in otherwise simple areas of my life. Other issues, though, were not that simple to me.

I went to the doctor over the physical ailments – nothing like this had ever happened to me before. He told me it was extreme stress and anxiety. I laughed. I wasn’t stressed at all, in my mind, and it scares me I was actually able to justify it. Regardless, he put me on an antidepressant.

College was almost the inverse: I worked pretty darn hard for three years, then senior year rolled around. I stopped the antidepressant for a while, and I was faced with extreme apprehension. Because of the burnt out feeling I had experienced before, I took the opposite approach and stopped trying at all. I skipped classes on a regular basis. I was an Economics senior project away from a Finance and Economics double major, but I dropped out of it. I hung out with friends more and cared about important finance classes less. I put little work into group projects, contrary to all of my beliefs on the subject. I was okay with mediocrity if it meant sanity. My nearly perfect GPA took a hit, and it was luck that barely kept me in the summa cum laude range. I did not care at all about my future or my major. Part of me felt great to have no worries, but part of me was immeasurably depressed because I had no life plans.

My grad school experience in SF was more of a malaise than stress. Nonetheless, it was very difficult, I was extremely stressed, and I did drop out for a while.

(Technically) the same grad school in a new location, a new environment, and a number of failed drugs later (and 1 year removed from all antidepressants), I am once again facing the beast. Grad school is tough again. This internship requires a ton of thinking. The CFA is a future challenge that can never be studied for enough. Et cetera. I’m kind of burnt out – this is similar to my high school senior year, the last time I had this much stress while not on an antidepressant. I don’t have time for any obligations. There is uncertainty regarding graduation and jobs. My lease ends in May. Instead of seeing my friends on the weekends, I do work. When I have some time for myself to watch sports or get some exercise, I am only 20% into it; 80% of my mind is thinking about everything I need to do in one collective unfocused stressful thought.

 

My take:  I need to find an extremely low-stress environment. If there is even a remote semblance of stress, my mind will make it a big deal and I’ll burn myself out. If stress is going to be an issue, it better be with something I love so I can handle it.

The positive:  It’s temporary. It will all end by June. I won’t ever have school again in my life, most likely. Yes, other things will take over, but I’m assuming they won’t be as stressful.

 

I know what you’re thinking. Every grad student and young adult goes through this trying period, and I’ll look back and laugh when it’s all over. That is partially true, but not every grad student goes through this period doubled, or tripled. My mind is taking this challenging, productive, and exciting period in my life and turning it into a job. In this job, I’m working first shift, second shift, and part of third shift.

I don’t know how some of you do it. I wish I had the key. I wish I could think about tasks and duties and stressful situations only when necessary instead of constantly. I wish I could see what I had to do clearly instead of having a foggy notion that I always have something unknown to do. I don’t plan on taking antidepressants ever again, but I need to find a solution somewhere. This real world thing is just insanely hard to handle; I need to get a grip on it before it eats me alive.

 

 

Busy Come, Busy Go

Potential employers have collectively stopped counting to 1,000 in this game of hide-and-seek. Now that their eyes are open, they can finally see what is standing right in front of them. I got tired of hiding. Why not just count to 100?

The same thing happened last summer. I hadn’t been able to find anything at all for months, not even one return e-mail or acknowledgment of existence. Then I got a real estate finance internship.  A few days later, my temp agency contacted me for the first time in two months. They offered me a job doing busy work at Chase, and I quit the unpaid (yet full-time) internship for it. A day after that, I was contacted for a temp-to-hire position doing finance and criticism and writing, but due to my ridiculous 2nd / 3rd shift hours at Chase and the unknown duration of my assignment, I turned down an interview. Based on the interest I was drawing in the present, I wasn’t worried about being able to find something in the future.

When I found myself with no job a few weeks later, I went back to being invisible to the job market. Nothing at all changed. I was still the same Curtis applying for jobs, yet my Inbox and Voicemail stayed empty. I began scouring Craigslist for anything and everything. I sent hundreds of e-mails, e-mails that I put time and effort into, and I wrote up numerous great cover letters. Nothing. No response. On extreme occasions, I would get a “Thank you for applying, and we’re impressed by your credentials, but you’re not what we’re looking for at this time.” I applied to Target. On the application, I checked every box for the stores in the city I would be willing to work at, every box for the positions they needed help in (including overnight stocking), and every box for time availability. Weeks later, I got the usual e-mail. I couldn’t even get a freaking interview for minimum wage overnight work no one else wants to do. Same with Walgreens. Same with Barnes and Noble. A number of grocery stores. I couldn’t even get a call back to be a pizza delivery driver. Apparently I’m not as overqualified for those jobs as I thought.

I had my resume looked at by the Loyola Career Center, and besides a lack of relevant work experience, they thought it was very good. I had Bradley’s Career Center review it years back, and they thought it was fine. There isn’t a glaring weakness or a “Don’t Even Dream of Hiring Me, Don’t Think About Interviewing Me, Ignore My Qualifications and Extreme Flexibility, Don’t Bother Letting Me Know You Received My Job Inquiries or Have Made a Decision Either Way, and Pretend I Don’t Exist” stamp.

Lately, I’ve been applying for things in many different areas, but I’ve naturally been focusing on finance. The same resume and credentials that were ignored the last few months are somehow in the spotlight again. Last week, I had a phone interview with a tech start-up for a business development / finance internship. A day later, my (third) temp agency awoke from its slumber to inform me of a finance position at an accounting firm. The same day, two other finance-related companies not only responded to applications I had sent, but responded with invitations to set up interview times. Hours after that, the tech start-up let me know I was chosen for the internship; I start next week(!) I wouldn’t be surprised if I get the other jobs as well.

It’s ridiculous how my life works. I was looking for something to do to benefit myself besides learning French and writing, so I started the CFA thing. I just started my hardest quarter in school. Combine the academic workload with a job (or two or three), and I’m going to be absurdly busy. Where was everyone when I had nothing to do and no commitments? It’s like I’m that guy girls only want to date when I’m unavailable.

Is this what I wanted? I do need a job for work experience and money, and I’m trying to benefit my future self. Yet I don’t have time to think anymore; there is no time to reflect on who and where I am. Am I moving forward, or am I just a hamster on a wheel? I’m going too quickly to know if this is right. I’m working very hard for the future with little regard for the present. In terms of the composition of my life, I’m increasing quantity, but am I increasing quality?

I am forced to ignore my inner awareness, to repress important questions and observations. I am sacrificing mental independence for positive future prospects. I am hesitantly taking the bus instead of driving my car. This can end up well, or it can end up in disaster.

There’s always been a wall between the real world and myself, and every time it starts crumbling, I run away. I don’t like feeling imprisoned by life. Subdued, inhibited, contained. I’m not going to give myself up for the sake of “necessity.” I will either come out of this unscathed and content or powerfully inspired by my discontent.

I’ll be on my guard.

Literally One Day as a Valet

I recently had the single greatest working experience of my entire life.

I’ve always had a passion for cars, and I have been looking for pretty much any job at this point yet have not had much luck. But after a phone call and a quick interview, I got a job as a valet worker in the Gold Coast, a really nice area downtown.

I had to purchase a white dress shirt, black tie, black pants, and black sport shoes that I would do a lot of running in. I showed up eager to learn and thankful for the opportunity. I was told the first day would be training. But really it was 25% training, 75% just learning by doing.  A really friendly worker took me under his wing and showed me exactly what to do. I went on a few runs with him then was given the responsibility of doing it myself, after only an hour.

I hear the boss say, “Hey, new guy, take this one to Lot 2, you’ll do fine.”  I turned to see a new Mercedes SLK pulling up to the curb. Awesome. I ran over and opened the driver’s door and handed him a ticket. I got in and quickly observed the controls; it was a manual. I’ve driven plenty of manual transmissions, but there was pressure involved to learn this clutch and shifting perfectly so as not to look make a bad impression to my boss and the driver and the other valet workers. I handled it fine and sped away. I was alone and in complete control of this fancy car. I made sure to drive like a taxi driver (like I was taught) while still being very careful. I parked it in the absurdly small spot and did all the necessary things before sprinting the quarter-mile back to the valet curb. If this was representative of what was to come, I was in for a fun night. And I was right.

I could go into details, because there are so many. But I’ll try to keep it brief.

This went on for some time. I initially just parked the cars, but then I was given tickets to pick up and bring cars back. This requires a pure sprint and focus on getting the car out of wherever it is and to the curb as quickly as possible. The very first pickup ticket I was given was for the “garage.” The garage is a nightmare. It is 6 stories, dark, and has only one way up and down. The parking spots are tiny and in weird corners and obstructed by poles. The “elevator” is a manlift, a vertical conveyor belt thing that seems very primitive but it so fun to ride. This is one in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUdL_st3FFw#t=0m27s

The first car I picked up was obstructed by two others, so I had to find the keys and move the cars out of the way then back in as quickly as possible. Then when I finally got into the car, I had to turn on the lights and honk the horn while driving down the maze of a garage. It reminded me of something you would see in a movie or do in a video game, but would never actually do in person. I was flying down this tiny spiraling lane, maneuvering around poles and other cars, sharply turning the wheel, in a car I have never driven. It seemed so risky. It took a lot of focus and guts.

The rest of the night was basically like that. A lot of running. Figuring out how to read the ticket so I know where the car was, and how to find the car in the garage. Taking the crazy manlift a million times. Getting into cars I have never driven before, trying to find the headlights and turn down the windows and figure out how to drive them. The rush and stress of knowing you don’t have much time to waste. Opening all the doors and collecting tips while making sure to be polite and thankful.

Oh yeah. I got to drive a freaking Lamborghini, which has always been a dream. I have not been as joyful in a long time.

In total, I drove or moved around 80 cars, about 15 of them manual or some form of manual transmission, 20 with Engine Start buttons, and 7-10 with numerous other gadgetries that I learned to use.

I got a nice chunk of change in tips, and before I left, the boss handed me three $20 bills and told me great job. I was so happy and worn out. My adrenaline was rushing; I was reliving the fast-paced night in my head while also thinking about things I could do better the next day. I didn’t even realize that I was there for eleven hours, that I didn’t eat anything, and that I was freezing.

I had a nice conversation with my cab driver on the way home. I never ever talk to cab drivers, hair stylists, etc., but I was that overjoyed. We had a fun chat then he asked how my day went, and I shared with him my experience. I was proud of my work, I enjoyed my work, and I was completely engulfed in my work.

I didn’t fall asleep until around 7 AM, and I had to get up at 8:30 because I was told to come in at 10 AM. When I woke up, I wasn’t even tired. I was happy to have a reason to get up early, and the excitement was still lingering in my system.

But when I got to the valet station at 10, different workers were there and I was told there must be a mistake because they were already full. I tried calling my supervisor, who said he is very reliable and to get hold of him about any problems. No answer or response. I called everyone I could think of but there was literally no answer from anyone. I found a few people I did work with the previous day but they didn’t know what to tell me other than to get hold of my supervisor(s). It is now three days later and I have heard nothing from anyone. No one has answered phone calls or texts, and I have gone back three times to no avail. Yes, the authority figures are a little shady / there really isn’t a main authority figure, but this is ridiculous. I did everything I was supposed to do, and they made it clear I would be working as a full-time employee at that location and later various other locations downtown.

I am pretty upset that this is happening right now. I finally find something that I need in my life that will keep me occupied and satisfied. I finally enjoy an entire eleven hours of freedom from my mind, from insecurities and questions and confusion and the same old routine. I finally find something I passionately want to do, after all this time finding passion in very little. I finally take a step in the right direction and am happy and eager for the next day and confident that everything will be okay. I find something I am really really good at. I find something I don’t want to immediately quit. But then it disappears, completely vanishes on me. One day. Just one freaking day? My jobs lately haven’t lasted long, but that’s a little silly. Yes, this should make my distant, confused, depressed state worse.

But I am not as sad as I thought I would be, at least not yet. I have been discouraged and frustrated far too long.

Let’s be real. I don’t know if being a valet is a job for me in the long run. Worst-case scenario: I don’t have this job anymore or any other valet job for that matter. I had the best single working day of my life. My optimism is back: I know that I can actually find and be fulfilled by a job. Even if for only one eleven-hour working day, I was back on track, and knowing how that feels will encourage me to find something else. I fervently seek that happiness and job satisfaction; I need that feeling and will find it again.

I’m hoping this is all one big miscommunication and I still can work with this company, or I quickly find another job as a valet, and I will once again have the fulfillment I need in my life. Maybe I would start disliking it after a few days and this is just an overreaction to finally getting a job, but I can’t think that way. It might sound silly, it might sound like settling, but I loved being a valet and that’s all that really matters.