I was four years old when I realized the best way to get anything you want is to get a job. The state of Virginia didn't permit me to go out on my own when I was that age so, one Saturday morning, I folded 36 origami boats and sold them at my mom's business for 50 cents apiece. By the afternoon, I'd made $50.
It became clear to me then that a job allowed a certain amount of economic freedom. I could spend my money, for example, on as many cheese puffs as I wanted from the vending machine without my parents' knowledge. Priorities then, were buying things that my parents wouldn't or couldn't. A job was simply a means to do so.
Over the years, the motivation for work changed. I had maintained a steady job, at least over the summers and sometimes more, for six years by the time I was 20. I had held just about every type of job imaginable by the time I left college, stacking my resume with experiences and extracurricular activities, balanced with a few gigs here and there.
But in the end, I knew where I was going. Every experience brought me closer, at least in theory, to larger goals. My interests have always been in civil and human rights, while the particular focus or ideal career has changed from time to time.
After college, I gained experience as a public relations professional providing communications support to health policy nonprofits. As a graduate student, I interned with several nonprofits: the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a fellowship in Nepal doing work on domestic violence. This past semester, I interned at the White House. I figured I would take advantage of all the opportunities D.C. has to offer while working on my master's; when I'm finished, I thought, I'll be in a solid position to pursue opportunities that will further my career.
I didn't exactly expect a job to be waiting for me, but I did think it would be a bit easier. After graduating this May, I had planned to take some time off before working full time again --travel, paint, work on learning a new language. Nearly two months ago, I started seriously sending out applications. Weeks passed without hearing anything, so I went to Costa Rica. I figured if I had to wait anyways, it might as well be in a new country. But here I am, back in the United States, and unemployed.
I've had one interview -- yesterday morning -- for a nonprofit organization. It is the only request for an interview I've received, after sending out more applications than I can remember. I'm eager to hear back from them; it's a great opportunity, and in an area that really and truly fascinates me.
But I also went to a retail store this afternoon to look at opportunities just in case. If all that fails, I may go back to origami.