Post Grad Postcard: Finding My Way With a Forklift

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My career-finding website account thinks I should become a forklift operator in Greenwich, Connecticut. I’m not sure if I agree with them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m giving it serious thought. Forklift operators are very useful people; I want to become a useful person. Connecticut won’t stay 95 degrees F or higher until September, unlike me here in South Carolina. I have a valid driver’s license, I don’t take medications plastered with DON’T OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY, and I’m not afraid of hard work.

But where did this come from? In my site profile, did I forget to mention my lack of upper body strength? Did I accidentally count prying two-year-olds off of toilets (a primary duty of my daycare job a couple summers ago) as proof that I can lift forty-five pounds by myself?

Or is job hunting really this complete and total a crapshoot?

For the past four years, I’ve been held tight in the snug protection of college. Every year, I heard IN THIS ECONOMY followed by enough bad news to make me go into numb denial. I could turn back to my scholarships that kept academics as my job and a nice lady with grey hair who sent out internship opportunities as soon as they crossed her desk. I could work for nothing, because hey, it was all experience, and that’s what counted! Right?

Last summer, I had a job. It was an internship, part time with pay hovering just above minimum wage, but it was writing for money in my own cubicle and with a dress code, and I felt like hot shit for landing it.

I was spoiled.

This summer, I’ve joined the much more depressing, much bigger, much more unofficial unemployment club. Hi, my name is Melanie, I just graduated from college, and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing with my professional life.
After paying for a funny hat and waiting in line to receive my bachelor’s degree with 30,000 of my peers, I’m living in my parents’ house digging their newspaper classifieds out of their recycling and circling any job that has “communication” in its description. I’m wriggling with agony as my dad proofreads my resume, biting down any knee-jerk objections I have to his corrections because how the hell do I know any better? (Short answer: I don’t.) I’m sifting through Craigslist ads discovering new depths of my desperation and gullibility. Of course I want to be a private secretary! Only at night, you say? Great! More time for daydreaming! Only paid in cash? Sweet! My grandma’s got just the pillowcase to store it in for me!

College did not prepare me for this.

But I’m a good self-educator, and the first thing I’ve learned is I can’t depend on anybody except my own bad self (thanks, James Brown) to get me started. I’ll take all the help I can get, listen to every suggestion from people who know more than I do (everybody), but ultimately, it’s my life to build one job application at a time.

And that is all the direction I need (until the forklift place makes me a better offer).

Melanie Griffin blogs at The Constant Reader.