I Am Looking For A Man
I have been trying to find a man. I’ve also been trying to find a job. Not necessarily in that order and not just any man or any job. I have them both on my 2012 to-do list as: Find My Dream Man and Land My Dream Job. Little did I imagine how similar these two searches would be! On the job front, since completing my masters last spring, I have been doing whatever freelance work I can discover in this ultra competitive job market for journalists, while persistently seeking that elusive full-time position. This past year, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with and contribute to The Root at The Washington Post and I am currently freelancing at Black Enterprise Magazine on a special project – reassuring me that I still have something to offer the field of journalism. While I am at the point where I desperately need a full-time job, benefits etc., I am much more patient in my search for love.
For me, career takes priority, so on the relationship front I have scarcely been aggressive in seeking a mate. But, being single in New York for more than a year can be pretty lonely. My search for both a man and a job has primarily been online. Though I must admit, my exploration of online dating is perhaps more of a distraction from the heartaches of a futile job hunt – as if dating doesn’t bring its own agony. Either way, I have well prepared myself for each respective search. Both require a checklist of qualifications and with the ever-evolving social media, much emphasis is now placed on how best one markets oneself in the digital space.
Before graduating journalism school, we were taught how to build our digital portfolios most effectively via WordPress. So I created my site featuring clips of my writing, my resume, photography and multimedia work. I met a few times with Career Services on campus to review my resume and for advice on what companies/jobs to target. I tweaked my LinkedIn profile as best as possible and expanded and reached out to my connections there to enhance my chances of getting recruited. For both my digital portfolio and LinkedIn, I used appealing professional-looking photos and a summary of my qualifications to complement each profile. I signed up for more job sites than ever before, especially those catering to the journalism/communication field. I called and emailed contacts including former bosses asking them to send my way any positions they hear of befitting my skills-set. I attended mixers and other networking events whenever possible to engage in personal interaction with professionals and help open any doors of opportunity.
I gave myself a schedule. I would arise early Monday to Friday, shower, have breakfast and then sit at my computer and go through my daily job listings, checking off the ones I most fancy. Then I start writing my cover letters – each tailored to a specific position. Once I complete my cover letters, I send off my applications with any other additional requirements such as writing samples or a given assignment by the recruiter. Then I file away each position for which I had applied in an inbox folder called “Dream Job Search 2012.” I pretty much apply myself to the job-hunting process as if it were a 9 to 5. I take breaks for lunch, snacks, to run any quick errands or sometimes even hit the gym for a 60-minute workout. Once the day’s applications are in, then begins the frequently endless wait for responses. By 6pm, I put my computer to sleep to go cook dinner.
After dinner, I switch from looking for a job to looking for a man. But not before I wind down the evening watching my favorite television shows, catching the evening news or with a few chapters of whatever book I’m currently reading. In between, I talk to my family and friends back in Barbados. When I finally return to the computer, it’s to the online dating sites. Apparently, a few of my friends figured I needed a man, so for my birthday in January, I was given membership on eHarmony and had my old account on BlackPeoepleMeet.com (from a few years ago) reactivated. Just like the digital portfolio and LinkedIn, I chose profile photos carefully, providing a bio of what makes me a worthy candidate and defined my target “market” i.e. what I was looking for (in a man). These photos and biographical information were vetted by some of my friends – both male and female, who made sure I was presented as “proper wife material.” Similar to job sites, dating sites of course feature countless possibilities, so the same way I apply to jobs that I want, after scoping out their profiles, I also reach out to those guys who catch my attention. And just like with the job hunt, I await responses from these potential mates.
Putting oneself out there for either a job or man requires the ability to handle rejection. No matter how fitting one thinks he or she is for a job, a recruiter might not share that view and never even bother to acknowledge receipt of an application beyond the standard automated response. Or no matter how ideal one might find a mate by reading his profile, he just might not share mutual interest. For me, sending out scores of job applications and not getting responses has been a harsh lesson in self-esteem. So many times I wonder if my messages are just disappearing into an abyss and never actually reaching recruiters. I started doubting my adequacy and found myself throwing many a pity party. In particular, the lack of a job was starting to bring great financial challenges especially as I have no relatives here in New York to provide a safety net in my time of need.
Then a few weeks ago, after writing to one of my former professors/editors John Bennet of The New Yorker, we met for lunch to discuss my situation. One thing John said really struck a chord, “Don’t ever blame yourself.” While John acknowledged that there are few available jobs, he reassured me that I have an impressive portfolio; that I have what it takes to be successful in this profession. I, however, wasn’t getting that type of feedback from online dating. It would appear as if all the “bling, du-rag, thuggish-looking, too short, can’t-spell-to-save-their-lives, three children or more” guys on BlackPeopleMeet.com were hitting me up, while the seemingly decent prospects were just not getting back to me. On eHarmony, the most compatible guys with whom I’ve been matched live out-of-state and they don’t look to be feeling any Jungle Fever. I have had the occasional intellectually stimulating or humorous conversation with a few guys, but that’s about it. So in three months of “online dating” I have actually not met a dream guy or gone on a date.
After that lunch with John where he encouraged me to keep trying, I re-grouped and stepped up my job-hunting game. A week later, not only did a head hunter on LinkedIn message to recruit me for a competitive position, but I also got the biggest boost to my confidence when I was interviewed and considered as a serious candidate for an awesome post at Thompson Reuters. Although I eventually did not get the Reuters job, it was a much-needed confirmation that top recruiters are noticing me. A couple of days later, I got the offer to freelance with Black Enterprise Magazine. Around that time I met with my friend Shanna for brunch and we were discussing both my quest for a job and a man. I then recalled an invitation I accepted last summer to join IvyDate, an online dating site featuring alumni from Ivy League and other top universities. I told her how I had browsed the site and the men provide as much eye candy as they do impeccable credentials for potential mates. I decided then I would look into my membership there.
Yet, as I said before, my career comes first. I made up my mind at 13 years old that I wanted to be a journalist; that desire has lived on for two decades. I got my first full-time job as a reporter when I turned 21 and it is a job I have always been happy to get out of bed and do. As a teenager, I also had views on the type of man I wanted to marry. I had my first boyfriend at age 16; my longest relationship lasted seven years, the shortest three years. I was proposed to in marriage three times. Still, none of these men was the ideal man for me to marry. Unlike my stance on journalism, my idea of a dream man has kept evolving. Finding something full-time right now in my field would be the perfect job because being a journalist is my dream job. But with experience, I have learnt that finding the perfect man is only a dream. Still I will not settle.
~ I Keep it Irie ~