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Question 6

Has your emotional well-being been affected by your situation?

Photo prompt #6: Your greatest source of stress.

My economic stress was alleviated after my departure from the Teach for America program. Having been a teacher, I was able to receive my salary until the end of the summer, and by that point my unemployment was all situated and so it was a smooth transition.

However, I quickly grew disenchanted and frustrated when it came to applying for jobs after that summer — responding to over two dozen Craigslist posts a day, and not hearing even a “your application/resume was received” response. I’m sure each post must have received hundreds of replies from job applicants, but not hearing any confirmation at all makes you wonder if the time you’re investing has any value at all.

Teaching applications are a story of their own. With districts adopting new automated electronic application interfaces, I can apply to a dozen different systems around the Boston area and not even have contact with a real person. I’ve spoken about this with friends who tell me I should be aggressive and proactive, calling up jobs and inquiring about positions I’m interested in. But whenever I’ve tried this approach, I’m met with receptionists who insist that if I’ve submitted my materials, then they would have been received and will be reviewed shortly.

Still, none of these frustrations has significantly affected the way I view myself or led me to question my own capabilities. Instead, I’m left to question the state of America’s job hiring process, which has become both inundated and convoluted, on account of automation and the cookie-cutter expectations of employers.

I myself am highly qualified for an administrative position, yet because my resume doesn’t contain administrative buzzwords and past job experience with similar or exact job titles, I’m tossed aside after an employer takes the thirty-second glance over each resume.

Have I become cynical? I would say that the downturn in the economy and the state of liberal arts-based professions within America has indeed turned me rather cynical. I wish our nation valued the arts more than sports. I wish we placed as much funding into NASA, revolutionizing classroom textbooks, or PBS as we do on nuclear armament and wars in the Middle East. Where are we fighting nowadays again?

I’d love to conclude by saying that I believe all that could change this election cycle, or if we can just wait until the economy recovers. But I’m not sure that I believe that’s the whole problem.

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