One Year Later: Talking My First Job Post-Grad + Comparison

As the saying goes, “A lot can happen in a year”.

When I graduated from college (you can see what I learned over my four years here!), I had my sights set on working in New York City. Having lived in New Jersey and New York all of my life, I never had given another city a second thought. Why would I work elsewhere if the greatest city in the world was a short train or ferry ride away?

But securing a job in New York City a la Carrie Bradshaw is not as easy as it seems. The greatest city in the world has a competitive job market, especially since I was in a state of confusion because I had no idea at all what career path I wanted to pursue. This led to my blindly sending out applications to any job that even just slightly appealed to me. I applied to roles in social media, media planning, public relations, copywriting, marketing, and even event planning, because those were roles that most logically paired with my communication degree.

After recieving quite a few rejections and entertaining some phone screenings and in-person interviews, with a heavy heart I decided to take a step back from NYC and apply to a few jobs locally just as a way to get work experience and a paycheck. I, again, applied to jobs blindly — to be a barista, a retail associate, and as an assistant in the activities department of a nursing home. Anything to get myself out of the house and make some moolah.

I was accepted for the activities role and have worked there for the past twelve months.

I so badly wanted to work in a role similar to that of my peers that was being shown off on Instagram–to ride the NYC subway to my trendy office, work the classic 9-5 job in something I was passionate about, and afterwards attend happy hour with my fellow young and hungry-to-work coworkers. It all seemed so glamorous.

Over the course of the last twelve months on the activities team, I have gained an immeasurable amount of soft skills that can be applied to just about any job. I have strengthed my interpersonal skills by building positive relationships with residents and families, learned how to remain calm under pressure when coworkers called out and I was to run entire social and recreational programs by myself, and sharpened my eye to detail by creating daily and monthly print activity calendars. I even made ammends with a seemingly “difficult” coworker on my team that few people thought fondly of, who told me that she believed that I would be a fantastic Activities Director.

Looking back on where I started, it is crazy to think that this job that originally began as something temporary is one that I have grown to love. I LOVE that I am able to build relationships with my sweet residents and make an impact in their lives by going the extra mile to make their day that much brighter. I enjoy hearing their stories of what kind of work they did, where they grew up, and how much things have changed since their days as young people. Truly a blessing in disguise.

As I mentioned earlier, is so easy to compare yourselves to others. For a very long time, I didn’t allow myself to be happy because I so heavily correlate happiness with landing a “good” job. 

We all say it- “I will be happy when…” You fill in the blank. 

“I lose ten pounds.” “I fall in love.” “I get my dream job.” Blah blah blah. 

We as a society are so heavily conditioned to believe that what we do for work is an extension of our identity. This, paired with the fact that we live online today, makes it SO easy to compare ourselves to those who look like they’ve got it all figured out…. we tear ourselves apart because we aren’t where society might think we should be. Jobs do NOT define our self-worth.

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