Tackling the Difficulties of Finding a Job Abroad

Job searching, my sadistic lover.

When I first began the job hunt, about two months ago, I was wide-eyed, gleaming with excitement, clicking “Save” on every job posting that remotely interested me on LinkedIn and Indeed. I was so excited to begin the journey to my dream job. Two months later and I have bags under my eyes and a love-hate relationship with LinkedIn’s “Jobs” function, but, surprisingly, I haven’t lost hope that I will find and land a job I am actually excited about.

Being 23, I read a mix of Facebook statuses that range from university acceptance letters to pregnancy announcements to the cynical friend who has been job searching for a year and still can’t land a position in their field. Encouraging.

Alas, do not fear, my worried friends, for I am no cynic. In fact, in some cases, like the decision of what to do with the rest of my life, I am entirely optimistic. As I am new the realm of job hunting, I may not be able to offer seasoned advice, but I still think my journey thus far can be helpful to others who maybe haven’t started looking yet, or maybe (like my poor anonymous Facebook friend) are feeling really lost and hopeless in their own search.

When I first started thinking about careers, all I could focus on was working in the education department of museums, so I only looked at jobs in the education department of museums, select museums at that. However, after a conversation with my loving father, I realized that pigeon-holing myself so early was probably not the best idea. In addition, I realized that there were actually other areas in museums I found fascinating, like exhibits and program management. Furthermore, I asked myself what about these jobs do I like and can other jobs, outside museums, offer the same excitement and fascination? Yes! In fact, that loving father I previously mentioned, he went down a rabbit-hole of museum and cultural sector related jobs and industries, and came back up with one of the coolest jobs that I had no idea even existed. Museum and heritage consulting. I could work on a new project every other month in a new museum in a different department or sector! It’s like having your cake and eating it too! And BOY are there a ton of these consulting firms out there, it’s incredible!

Basically, what I am saying, is that I expanded my view of careers I am interested in because I figured out it’s not the career that matters, but what I find interesting, exciting, and engaging that matters. If a career can give me those feelings, I will apply to any job in any industry.

My job hunt is in its infancy, I know that. Most people apply to a hundred jobs, some people apply to five. It depends on a variety of factors and your job search is probably very different than mine. But I am not getting discouraged. Actually, I think the more I job hunt the more encouraged I get- I just keep finding more and more jobs I would want, and that is really exciting. It also offers me the opportunity to see my first job as a temporary job, one that can help me grow and expand into another position or industry down the line. I have so many years in the workforce ahead of me that my first job won’t be my last job. With this knowledge, I am sitting back, relaxing, and taking it one job application at a time.

To be transparent, I have applied to fifteen jobs in the past two months and heard back from a resounding zero. Am I disappointed and discouraged? Not at all. My name is out there, they have my resume and cover letter for the future, and there’s another job application waiting on my desktop. I can apply to five or five hundred, all I need is one to say yes. My odds look pretty good.

Moving Home After College?

Moving home after college? Don’t.

Kidding.

Sort of.

Here’s my take on moving home after college and what people don’t tell you about it:

1. The Honeymoon Phase

You are going to love being at home because of all the things you missed– your parents, your pets, that mom and pop donut shop down the street. This nostalgic driven love for your home will last approximately one week. Then you are hit with the fact that you may or may not know when you are moving out, but it is not soon enough.

2. Back in Time

All of sudden you go from no curfews, no rules, no supervision in college to asking your parents if you can borrow the car or them asking you who you are hanging out with. Telling your parents that you are about to go meet up with a stranger you met off Tinder for drinks who you will most likely never see again can be a bit awkward, depending on your relationship with your parents. So you lie, or you don’t. I still haven’t figured out which is the better option. And just like that, living at home sends you back five years to when you were a little high school girl with more rules than colored pens.

3. Your parents become your best friends

This one rocks. I honestly don’t know who is more excited for me to move out, me or my parents. As much as they love me, I’m sure spending every waking moment with me talking to them, wanting something from them, or interrupting them has gotten old. But at the same time, I have never been closer to my parents, which makes moving out that much harder.

4. Your pet also becomes your best friend.

Don’t get me wrong, I have real live friends, but they live thousands of miles away or are working a full time job in the city. Once you leave college have 24/7 friends becomes have 1 hour every month friends. This is why your pet becomes your best friend. They love you unconditionally, are always happy to see you, and can’t get rid of you no matter how many times they get up and move across the couch from you. Leaving my little pup in the fall is going to suck, too bad I can’t bring her to grad school in England but the rest of my family might hurt me if I tried.

5. You will be sad.

Maybe not all of the time, or right away, but it will hit you. Your friends are miles away, your life is on temporary hold, and your family members have lives of their own. Fast forward to me scheduling time to see my sister because her days were already booked with fun girl trips, boyfriend time, Bachelor in Paradise girls night, etc. One time I picked her up from a friends house and we got ice cream, it was awesome. Another time, she cut our girls night short because she was “tired”, which I found out later was code for “my boyfriend texted me and wants to go get ice cream so how do I get rid of Dana.”

6. You will grow, a lot.

Due to this loneliness that my puppy could cure only so much of, I grew even more independent than I already was. I became a morning person, mostly because Bailey wakes up at 6:30 and someone has to feed her. I read more than when I was in school. I got really tan (even my sister’s friends noticed something different about me). I became a Starbucks Gold Member (my addiction for chocolate croissants knows no bounds). I ate healthier and exercised more because there’s no excuse not to when all that you can think is “I’m bored” (which I thought a lot this summer). I became a blog reader because why not I have the time. And I actually began to accept a lot of parts about myself that I didn’t like very much. This summer I had the epiphany that I actually really like my small boobs, even though for the past decade I have been at war with them, that was liberating.

So, give yourself the space to grow and be happy and sad and stressed and confused. Be kind to yourself, it’s not every summer you go through one of the biggest transitions of your life. You are lucky to be home, surrounded by people who have to love and support you (hopefully). Use this time to truly assess who you are and where you want to be, then get going- life waits for no one.

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The Road to Grad School

I took the path less traveled.

Actually, I am not sure about the statistics on that so maybe I didn’t. But, the path I did take led me to Cambridge University, and here’s how I did it.

I majored in Anthropology at the Ohio State University. Very exciting, great school, super awesome memories. But what was I going to do with my degree? Most people I talk to have absolutely no idea what Anthropology is. The closest most people come is, “Like Ross from friends!!”…no, nothing like Ross from friends. He is a Paleontologist who studies dinosaurs. Anthropologists study people, humankind, its history and its future. For me, I have always been fascinated by museums, especially natural history ones. So, I decided to pursue a career in the museum field, which means I have to go to grad school.

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The Road to Grad School:

1. Research Programs

In order to know which schools to apply to, you need to know what program you want to pursue. That’s the first step. Sit down and think about the career you want and then do some research on people in that career. Do they have higher degrees? What are their degrees in? Does that interest you?

2. Research Schools

Now that you know which program you want to pursue, you can begin looking for schools that have that program. There are different search engines you can use for this, but I started with a quick Google search. This led me down a rabbit hole of how many different schools offer anthropology grad degrees. I narrowed my search because there were specific schools I had in mind. I made a list of reach schools and safety schools, both domestic and abroad. For each school, I marked down deadlines, unique qualities, faculty I could work with, cost, and duration. I narrowed my list down to twelve schools. There is no right or wrong number of schools to apply to, it depends entirely upon you.

3. Take the GRE

For US schools, almost all will require GRE scores. For universities abroad, in my experience, none required GRE scores. This is something to take into account when researching schools and applying to schools, since the GRE is expensive. However, your GRE test scores are good for ten years, so if you think you will be doing a PhD or another master’s program after this one, it might be useful to take the GRE when you still have most of that information in your head. I have another post of prepping for and taking the GRE, check that out for more information.

4. Apply to Schools

Applying to grad school is b*tch.

First you will need recommendation letters from people who can speak to your ability to complete the coursework, such as a professor or research advisor. You will want to ask for these letters with ample time before the deadline, at least three weeks. Also, it is helpful to provide the referee with a word document outlining the list of the schools, their programs, the deadline, and where to send the letter.

Next, the actual application. There will be essays. Sometimes multiple for one application. For example, the Cambridge application has six short essays I had to provide. Definitely get a head start on the applications, like two to three months before they are due. You will have time to write, and rewrite, your essays, have them revised by a professor, and finalized well before the due date. You may also need samples of work. I used past class assignments and also wrote new samples for applications, it just depends on whether you think you already have something worthy or need something new. I would seek advice from a professor on your sample of work.

The applications can seem daunting, time-consuming, stressful, and, well, a lot. That’s because they are. But, with preparation and planning, you can nail them and be accepted to the school of your dreams! The final downside to applications, money. Each application will cost you at least an arm, if not also a leg. This is why I narrowed down my school list and applied to my top schools first. While I started with a list of twelve, I only ended up applying to four because one of my top choices got back to me in the beginning of November, so I didn’t need to apply to other school that I wasn’t in love with. If your applications have a rolling deadline, apply early for the schools that you LOVE and dream about going to. That way, if you hear back soon, you won’t need to submit other applications, most of which are due early January up to May.

5. Apply for Funding

This one is HUGE. I cannot stress this enough, research as many funding opportunities as you possibly can, and apply to ALL of them. I researched funding from every single organization and club I have ever been a part of. I researched local scholarships in my hometown. National scholarships from large corporations and charities. National and International fellowships, like the Fulbright and Rhodes. The funding process is stressful and long and daunting, but in the end it will pay off! Imagine having your entire course funded! That would be the dream. For me, I applied to everything under the sun, won a couple, and am still taking out big loans (not fun). Master’s funding is more limited than undergraduate and PhD funding, so apply for anything you can, even if you think its too competitive or you don’t quite fit the qualifications. The worst that can happen is you get rejected, but you don’t even have the opportunity to win anything if you don’t apply. So apply!

6. Making the Decision

By now, you have submitted your applications and have heard back from some or all of your schools. Make sure you note the deadline for accepting an offer so you don’t miss it. But also take your time in making your decision. By the end of my process, I had been accepted to Cambridge University, Oxford, Columbia, and the University of Sydney. Each of them had their pros and cons, and it took me months to finally choose (some of this time due to waiting to hear on funding). This decision is your’s. Not your parents’, not your professors’ decision. Your’s. You are the one who has to live in the town/city, read the material, work in that field. So do yourself a favor, and take your time.

I had always dreamed of going abroad for school, which knocked Columbia out (they also don’t offer postgraduate financial aid). The University of Sydney is where I applied for the Fulbright, which I didn’t win, so that was out. It came down to Oxford and Cambridge, how does one choose between the two? It took me four months to decide and be firm in my decision. I looked at the universities and what they offer, which, unhelpfully, are basically the same. So for me, it came down to the program, which one I wanted to be in more. The one at Oxford was tailored specifically to museums, whereas the one at Cambridge is a broad anthropology degree. I chose Cambridge for the flexibility the degree gives me in future decisions. And now, I am one month away from flying across the pond on a one way ticket to the rest of my life 🙂

This is my path, I hope you find, and follow, your’s.