Dear Miss A,
I’m graduating from a local university in May and got a job offer in an office that I have been working part time in. I have one week to accept the offer.
I know should consider myself very lucky to have this opportunity considering the economy. But, I know I won’t be happy staying in that office. I’ve been working there since last summer and am constantly frustrated with the people and the work. The job doesn’t pay very well, and if I did take it, I’d only stay there until I could find a better one. Staying in DC would involve moving into a new apartment… the whole deal.
To make things more complicated, I’m not sure that I want to stay in DC. I’m originally from the midwest and a large part of me wants to go back and be close to family. There aren’t a lot of job prospects but I think I’d like to take some time away from the District.
I’m scared I’ll be a fool to turn down this offer only to move halfway across the country and be unemployed.
Class of 2010
Dear Class of 2010,
Thank you so much for writing in. I know how difficult the job market is, especially for those just graduating who have limited work experience. It’s always a Catch-22, you have to have experience to get a job, but you need a job to get the experience. There are several ways to get good experience without a job, such as by donating your services to a nonprofit, or by interning,as you have done. As many American companies are closing their doors, or moving jobs overseas, Washington, DC seems to be thriving, as Government keeps making itself larger and employing more people here. While it’s great for our local economy, I’m not sure it’s great for the nation as a whole.
You write that you know you won’t be happy at the company because you are “constantly frustrated with the people and the work”. Honey, welcome to the real world! Unlike college, you won’t just have a boss in your life for a semester. You can’t just drop the class. Realize now that there will be a downside to ANY job you take. It’s a lot like dating. No guy is perfect. No job is perfect. You have to choose the one with the faults you can live with. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. In other words, you know what sucks about this company already. Trust me, every company– no matter how great the company looks from the outside through the rose-colored glasses of their products, services, advertising, or PR–they all have issues that you won’t discover until you’re working there. It’s like getting to know a roommate or dating a new guy. They may seem great on paper, but they aren’t going to show you all their baggage upfront. You’re ahead of the game because you already know the office politics and corporate culture. You may not like them, but the people at your company obviously like you since they are transitioning you to full-time employment. Also, consider the learning curve. The longer you work in a position, the easier the work becomes and you can get things done so much faster. There is something to be said for that.
I would suggest that you take this job. It will look really great on your resume that YOU turned an internship into a full-time job opportunity. I would commit to this as being your first real job, and giving it a year and a half. During this time you can look for jobs and a living situation in your home state, and decide what you want to do. Don’t throw away this opportunity. As I know from some of my past interns and assistants, many grads will kill to be hired right now.
It doesn’t sound like you’re too excited, but take time to celebrate this step. You may have pictured your “first job” differently. Accepting the disparity between our childhood dreams and our adult reality is part of growing up. Sometimes what happens in life is better than our wildest dreams, and other times our dreams are grander than what life brings us. In time, you learn that you can’t plan your life out. It’s more about the journey than the destination, and there is plenty of time.
Consider treating yourself to a bit of a graduation makeover. Buy some new suits, change your look up a bit. Walk into the office your first day as the new you — no longer the intern. You want the people there to respect you as a peer. I feel like you’re not really giving yourself a pat on the back for receiving this job offer. I’ve worked for several companies with interns, and I know most of them aren’t ever hired, so smile, and realize this is actually a big deal…especially in this recession.
Celebrate your graduation. Go to the beach with friends, shop for your work wardrobe and get excited! Have some fun finding a place to live and setting up your new home. We will all have several careers over the course of a lifetime, so there is plenty of time to experience different work environments and experiences. You can always move back home! Accept this situation for what it is, and make the best of it!
– Miss A
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