Lower Your Expectations

I did some promotional modeling on the side and worked with a girl who was had a connection to the CEO of Carnival, or so she said. I had told her that I was relocating to the Miami, FL area and she told me to send her my résumé and she would pass it along. I did, and have yet to hear anything… Today, I came across a Black Enterprise magazine with the CEO on the cover, so I thought I would pick it up and take a look. Inside, I found a list, “The 10 Wealth for Life Principles,” in the Frugal and Fabulous section. Not surprisingly, I take issue with numbers 1 and 2: I will live within my means, and I will maximize my income potential through education and training, respectively.

Overall, I thought it was a good article with sound advice, and I really liked how the author mentioned that saving has become hard for those that are unemployed and underemployed. However, items 1 and 2 are vague, and the assume a return on investment, that is no longer guaranteed, and further the two can conflict with each other.

If I were to have lived within my means, I should have gone to state school and not Duke University. I should have also never attended graduate school. I wanted to go to Duke because of the work hard/play hard philosophy (people at Duke do not take themselves too seriously), and the opportunities in international affairs. I also applied to Boston College, Tulane, American University, the University of Miami, Wake Forest, Yale (I felt obligated to apply to at least one ivy), and Furman University. Duke was my first choice, followed by Wake Forest and the University of Miami. My mother thought that at least BC would offer me money, but no one did. However, had I scored just 10 points higher on my SAT, I would have received money from UM, and I occasionally wonder how my life would have been different. So, because no one offered me money, I got into my first choice, which was recommended by my mentor and also out-ranked the other universities (I did not get into Yale, but someone would have had to force me to go if I had), Duke is where I went. Interestingly, one of my good college friends turned down Columbia for Duke because Duke gave her a full ride, and she was very bitter about this for quite some time.

I honestly don’t regret attending Duke. I’m disappointed, or rather go through bouts of depression thinking about the $160K+interest I owe, but there is no other place I wanted to go. And I do believe, that had I, being who I am, chosen to go to a lower ranked school my prospects and earning potential would have decreased significantly. So, as for wealth tip #1, sometimes you have to live above your means for the sake of #2.

#2 Should specifically reference college education. I think that’s implied especially since I am finding that in some areas an advanced degree has some sort of unattainability and prestige attached to it, which I believe is unwarranted. Also, one cannot just get an education or training form anywhere, with any sort of degree and expect a return on investment, and despite people saying that attitude and passion are a factor, not so much. What affects the value of the college degree: name, type (BS vs BA), major, GPA, internships, and location. Basically, if you want to work in the high profile areas in banking and consulting, where the money is to pay off your loans, this is what is important: name, BS, (quant field or economics), 3.5+ (3.7+ preferred), and relevant internships (with a higher GPA, internships are less important, with a lower one, they become more important). In this instance location is irrelevant. If your GPA is lower, then you actually compete with people who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from lower-ranked schools, but good for them, and not good for you. They’ll still have more hoops to jump through, but then that makes you wonder if paying for the name was worth it when you could have gone somewhere else and graduate summa cum laude.

Location is another important factor because of school recognition nationally (FYI, I’m just focusing on US markets). With more recognition you and your degree can generally move more freely from one place to the next, but there are also some less high profile areas that prefer their own kind and stick with the regional schools. Another important thing to consider is what jobs are available in an area, and what degree is required for that job. This is exactly why I went to graduate school in DC: to work in DC and belong to one of the schools that I thought the actively recruit from. Now, however, as I leave DC, I face the challenge of being overqualified and even pricing out of jobs because recruiter think they know what I’ll ask for. This one person assumed that I should get 70K easily with a MA. We were the same age, but I knew about those other factors mentioned above. It’s really frustrating to think that the people that review my résumé have that same simple-minded understanding of the value of a degree and applicant expectations.

This brings me to two other articles I read on résumé review practices: How Recruiters Read Résumés in 10 Seconds and Five Résumé Red Flags. Because of where they’re published, they’re not the most credible, but considering that I keep being told that my résumé is impressive, while not receiving any offers for full-time work, what’s written makes sense.
For the first article for #1 Location and #7 Turnover, screw you recruiter. The author says that many companies don’t want to pay relocation in this economy, but did they ever think about how many applicants would relocate themselves because of this economy? I’m hoping that the people who reviewed my résumés and were impressed enough to write back, but still turned me down, followed this logic because then it was obvious we’re not a good fit if they’re unable to look at both sides. Those companies that are intellectually-challenged say on the postings that they will only consider local candidates. More astute companies will just say that they do not pay relocation expenses.

#7 I applied to a well-regarded company in home furnishings and wasn’t invited to an interview until I became angry and called back. I wasn’t rude, but just explained very directly how I met all the qualifications mentioned in the job posting, and some. I think I did an online assessment, and then had a brief phone interview with someone who was clearly reading a script. (I hope to God she was new.) Foreign language ability was a requirement, and she just asked me about my skills, but didn’t test me; that and all the other questions had been answered on my résumé. There was no room for dialogue, so it was pretty pointless. I was mostly shocked about not hearing back because not many people want to move to that area for work, let alone those who with the needed language skills, who could probably barely be counted on one hand. This interview was in early 2013 and I had graduated in May 2012, and this person asked about my switching jobs and not staying in one place for too long. I wanted to ask her if she could read, but I just said I was in school and those were temporary positions. So from that experience, I guess I need to include temporary next to the job title/company name, which is valid, but I can’t make the font any larger to help them read the education section.

#7 of the first article relates to “Employment Gaps”, the first item in the second article. The same recruiter with reading challenges, asked me about gaps in employment. I was also asked that when I was being interviewed for my Secret Clearance, and they could tell I was annoyed, but alas, they were both following the script. My answer: I was in school. Them: and then? Me: I was in school. Them: Oh. Me, to myself: stupid. So after that home furnishings interview, I tried to fill in the “gaps” in the employment section to limit confusion.

My mother tells me to stop calling those people stupid. In person I humor them. That makes me think of when I did a French speaking test with NDI and was basically talking to myself because they person on the end couldn’t follow. Hopefully she recorded that to share with someone else who could actually test me. They were offering a whopping $12/hr for DC, for me to move back from Boston to DC. It would have been different if it was just part-time, and I thought about getting a second job, but I would’ve been overqualified…

Throughout this job process, I have expected employers and recruiters to review my résumé and cover letter against the job description and the overall mission of the company. I expected the job description to be accurate, but in my cover letter I would address how I could assist them beyond what was in the description, so the accuracy of the job description itself wasn’t a big deal unless it was far off. I expected job descriptions to not have typos. I expected companies to want to best candidate, not the cheapest, while basing the salary requirements on their own assumptions without negotiating with the candidate. Yet, from this process I have learned that those expectations are too high, or maybe they’re just too high for most people and I am just waiting for that diamond in the rough. After all, all my credentials landed me a temp position with a company whose name makes people oooh and aaah (smh). I was just a temp position though. I just need to find normal people, companies, recruiters, who don’t have to be dropped on their head to recognize a quality candidate, and can put their ego aside and not be intimidated.

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