13 August 2013

An Employment Narrative

Looking for work is frustrating. The constant quest of long-term underemployment and unemployment is soul-crushing. All too often, we feel compelled to bear this burden in solitude. I say, no longer. Many have followed the same rotten path that I now tread, and it should not be a shameful one. The time has come for me to come forward with my stories.

Let us begin with a brief summary.
  • I left a good government job in the fall of 2011 to pursue a dream: exploring another country with my wife while she completed a fellowship. In the dream, our sojourn to South Africa would be life-affirming and empowering. I would build unique, emerging-market experience while we lived the good ex-pat life. Reality was far less simple.
  • In August 2012, I wrote a piece about my professional struggles in South Africa for The Billfold, entitled "Things I've Learned While Looking for Work in South Africa." I discussed the perils of South Africa's broken immigration system and the Catch-22 in which I sat: I needed a job to get a work visa, and I needed a work visa to get a job. The piece was published under a pseudonym due to concerns that my frank words might harm my then-pending visa application. I need not have worried.
  • I left South Africa in March 2013 in a cloud of frustration. The South African system had failed me. My employer -- and the used-car salesman of an "immigration practitioner" with whom they had set me up -- had let me down. I was done with the bullshine, so I returned to Washington, D.C., to find the next step.
  • I promptly spent the next five months on a D.C. roller-coaster of informational interviews, job applications, rejection, and the eternal so-what-do-you-do. I am not out of the woods yet, but I am on the edge. And from this vantage point I can see the forest through the trees.
Over the coming weeks I will post a few brief essays about my 2013 job search and what it has taught me. Be warned that I am no guru; I am merely an introspective and curious soul. My frankness in a public setting is designed with a simple message: you are not alone. I am not alone. I look forward to sharing my experience with you.


Lisa Huang said...

Looking forward to reading about your experience, raw,honest, and introspective... It's been a tough journey but you are at the tipping point! Hang in there!

Jeff said...

Lisa, thanks for the kind words.

Marybeth Montoro said...

So much appreciate you sharing your experiences. I can relate on so many levels - I too am struggling in DC, over-educated and under-employed. I look forward to reading more!

Jeff said...

Marybeth, thank you for your comment. Stay tuned for more early next week.

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