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Cloak and Dagger

There are a lot of secrets on the job hunt. Secrets from employers. Secrets from coworkers. Secrets from Facebook friends and Twitter followers. It can be hard to talk to people normally when the first thought on your mind is this secret.

On top of that, I’m really bad at job hunting. That lack of skill left me seriously looking for a job for almost a year (and not-as-serious-as-I-liked for a few months before that.) Even after I announced my resignation in Florida and moved to Chicago with my fiance, I still felt like I had a huge secret.

Telling you to be quiet.

Secrets are not as much fun as this picture would have you believe. I bought this for my brother so he could replace his Ke$ha poster.

My secret kept me from talking about my hunt openly, and probably contributed to how poorly I hunted. It’s the reason I loaded boxes at UPS for a month, then answered phones at a doctor’s office before finally getting a career job.

That secret: I had no idea what I wanted to do. In my head, the only requirement was to live the same place as Jean. And once I accomplished that, once I got here and continued my job hunt, I told people I had a plan.

1: Get a job
2: Get a full-time job
3: Get a full-time job I wanted to have
*Steps 1 and 2 were optional.

But I still had no idea what job I wanted. Journalism was probably not the answer. If a newsroom job had come along, I’d have taken it in a minute, but the prospect of throwing myself further into a shrinking field was not as appealing as it had been when I entered college (and after every semester when I thought very hard about switching majors). Whenever students younger than I asked for advice about journalism school, I always said the same thing: If you can do anything else, anything at all, do it instead. I guess my own advice finally caught up with me.

And still I struggled, slamming resumes and cover letters at every job opening I was remotely qualified for to a constant stream of quiet rejection. It was all I knew how to do. And while I told a lot of people about my doubt, I couldn’t make it common knowledge.

Perhaps I’m paranoid, but i didn’t want a prospective employer coming across some blog post, tweet or update talking about uncertainty in my career aspirations. Or, even worse, certainty in a direction other than into their field.

But I’m a pretty open person, and secrets (of my own, at least) are not something I’m very good at. And maybe not surprisingly, my job hunt went better with employers who knew the whole story. Steps 1and 2 were accomplished. (Personal connections certainly didn’t hurt, either.)

In the end, I found my new path the same way I stumbled on copy editing as a freshman. Somebody asked, “Do you want to do this?” When the answer, unbeknownst to me, was yes.

Now I’ve started a new career in marketing, and I’m happy with my work and my location and the direction of my life. Even if I’m still not exactly sure what direction it is.

The only thing I regret is the french fries

Last evening was a night on the town. Nine of us went out for dinner and drinks and adventuring about the city into the morning hours, when the final four of us called it quits after eating at Steak ‘n’ Shake.

It was a normal night. We had dinner at a place downtown, then moved on to a bar. We swapped stories, took some shots, and eventually somebody started throwing garnish across the table.

I don’t remember exactly who started it, but karma suggests it was probably me since a thick lime slice collided into my eye, resting like a moisturizing cucumber. My friends expressed concern that I’d get lime juice in my eye, but that didn’t really hurt. What hurt was how hard the slice had collided with my socket, even leaving a bit of a shiner.

Today at work, while I was checking out said shiner by using Photobooth (because the mirror in the bathroom was too far away, obviously), Heather said she didn’t think I had a shiner. She might be right, because I found on further inspection that I have huge bags under my eyes just now from too little sleep. Though I maintain there’s a bruise hiding in there somewhere.

And that’s probably the last work memory I’ll ever have of Heather, our summer intern. She’s put up with us for 12 weeks and how she’s off to her real job. I wish her all the best and am sure she’ll do wonderful things in Pittsburgh.

It’s strange how familiar you can become with someone in 3 months. Maybe it’s not strange considering her desk is right next to mine and we share a love of overdramatic office gossip about the most mundane topics, but it will be strange to see the intern — and friend — leave.