College Connect: The Cost of Uncertainty

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It’s most important question every graduate faces: What is next?

Up until about March of this year I had no clue of what I would be doing after graduation. All I knew was that I was tired of the Midwest and that I wanted to go to work somewhere in Southern California. I spent the greater half of my senior year filling out applications to jobs and fellowships. I wanted to apply for anything that remotely involved California and journalism. Eventually I landed an 8-week paid internship in Los Angeles. I was very excited at the time and still am very grateful for the opportunity.

Despite landing an internship, I continued filling out job applications because I still needed full time employment after the summer. After all, I do have student loans that need to be paid!

After countless applications, I was contacted by a company for a producer’s assistant job. The job listed openings in New York and Los Angeles although I later found that the recruiter who interviewed me was looking to fill positions in Seattle, Chicago, and Indianapolis. I was willing to go to any of the locations but I still listed Los Angeles as my primary preference. I made it past the first interview and my interviewer asked me for references. I kept in contact with the recruiter during the last week of school before graduation and about a week after. He asked a few follow-up questions about where I would want to work. He told me that he was going to be making his hiring decisions soon and that I would hear back from him.

About a week went by without a response. I wasn’t too worried that he was taking time getting back to me but I was concerned about how to go about planning for the rest of my summer. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t have been a too much of a problem as recruiters tend to take time in their application process but in my case the starting date of the internship I had already gotten was just over a week away. After talking with my family I decided to send another follow up email to the recruiter informing them of my situation, in hopes I could get a response before the start of my internship.

I told him that I look forward to the internship but I would much rather count on a full-time permanent position.  I checked the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and while job prospects are better than in years past, it still takes awhile to gain full-time employment.

The old saying that a bird in hand is better than two in a bush holds true in most situations, so I began planning to go to Los Angeles for the internship on the assumption that I hadn’t gotten the job. I hadn’t heard back from the recruiter and I was running out of time to make my drive to Los Angeles. I still hadn’t found an apartment to sublet for the summer and needed to get there early to apartment hunt and gauge driving times to and from work through the infamous Los Angeles traffic.

In the back of my mind, I was still hoping that I would be offered the job, even if it was at the last minute. As I plan to drive out to Los Angeles, I have a lot of financial questions.

How do I balance looking for a full-time job when I am working at a post-graduate internship? What if I need to pay to go for an interview?  It’s expensive to look for lodging on a short-term basis, and I am budgeting for that. Uncertainty can be very expensive. Obviously, knowing where I’m going would allow me to plan my expenses.  Repayment for student loans begins in six months, and I need time to get my feet on the ground, to start working and to save money.

My goal is a full-time job, and even though I started early, I still don’t know what lies ahead.


–Robert Abel is recent graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He’s from Kansas City.

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