I graduated with my PhD in biochemistry on January 10th, 2020. The current job I have was offered on January 13th, 2020 in a globally recognized biopharmaceutical research firm. My wife and editor constantly tells me I earned that position and that the firm is lucky to have me. To be completely honest, with everything that is going on in the world, the fact that I am married to a beautiful woman (on many levels) and that I have a job at a reputable research firm, I do not believe I deserve either. I know many people are struggling hard to find a job, even before Covid-19. So what makes me so worthy? Nothing, I’m just a kid from York, PA.
For those of you who can’t tell, yes I did just paraphrase Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, so the quote could fit me personally. Does this mean that there was nothing special about Steve Rogers? Steve Rogers was a wimpy kid who had so many conditions that it was a wonder he lived long enough to get to a legal age to enter the army recruitment office. Even today he probably would only live into his teens. Special is a strange choice of words to describe him to say the least. Yet he kept going at it to a point he was committing crimes just to be seen in those offices. How would Steve Rogers put it?: “I could do this all day.”
The Power Of Never Giving Up
There were many reasons Steve Rogers was chosen to be Captain America. But it could be argued that the main one is that Steve Rogers would not give up if you had a thousand guns pointed at him (a bit of a spoiler for Winter Soldier, but it is out of context). Altogether Steve Rogers is probably the most ambitious person you could meet, or not meet since he is fictional.
My ambition may never compare to Steve Rogers, but I try everything I can to be ambitious. I did everything I could to obtain a PhD in 4 years and applied to practically every job I thought I could fit in. In fact, I checked the excel sheet I have used as a record for my applications (which I recommend everyone do). 156 is how many job applications I have sent out starting since April 2019. Keep in mind, these are the ones I recorded. I imagine I applied for more. Even now, 4 months after I stopped applying I am still receiving notices from companies I do not remember applying to.
I Was Constantly Knocked Down
Even though the number of applications I sent out is below average, it is still at most around 100 less than the average amount of applications per job, so it is not that much below average. And it was still excruciating. One of the interviews I went to said they wanted the position filled in 2 weeks, my graduation was not even in 6 months. Since then I included a statement at the end of my cover letter saying that I would graduate in January and that would be my earliest anticipated start date (sorry folks, I was already pushing a very early graduation). Even after adding that statement I still had interviews where they thought I could start immediately.
The worst interview was surprisingly the best interview I had until the last 30 seconds. I was explaining to the recruiter my skills, which applied very well to their job. They even said I could be a good fit. Then they asked for my experience. I told them about my internships in college (about 1 year) and my experience in grad school (4 years). They said they were looking for someone who had 3 years of post graduate experience in the industry. My heart felt like it was grinding inside of me just to keep my blood pumping. I knew instantly where this was going. I told them the truth, that I passed my thesis defense the week before. 3 years? Try 1 week of post graduate experience. They paused and then they told me they would let me know if a more fitting position comes up. I never heard back from them.
Finding A Job Was Never Easy
Despite the claims that only 4% of people were unemployed last year, it was never easy finding a job. Even if the unemployment rate painted a very accurate picture of the jobs in America, the “96%” of people with jobs likely struggled to get these job. When I graduated from college it took two months for me to have a job related to my degree in biochemistry. Others claim it takes 6-9 months. What does Steve Rogers say: “I could do this all day.” Keep going at it, finding a job is difficult and difficult things will keep knocking you down. Get back up.
Places To Find Work
Granted the access economy has made it easier to find a job, especially if you are in between jobs, especially during Covid-19. Now you could make money ridesharing or trying gigs. It may not be good money, but at least it is something. Note, Lyft and Uber both have implemented rules for handling the Coronavirus (and understandably so), you will have to comply with those rules.
Trusted Job Search Sites
LinkedIn, and many of the other trusted job search sites still have jobs posted up. If you are looking for remote work, you could try FlexJobs.com. I am not an affiliate with any of these sites. However, note that it has been reported that as few as 1.5% of all remote work job listings are not scams. That is why I recommend FlexJobs.com, you may have to pay them to apply on their site, but the payment is simply outsourcing the work of filtering out the scams. Unfortunately, I wish I could say that traditional job postings are much better. That may be why it takes hundreds of applications on average to get a job. I will write a post on job searching, applying, and interviewing in the future.
It was tough to find a job before Covid-19, it will be tougher to find a job during Covid-19. However, the US will only have the extended unemployment benefits until July 31st, 2020. I am sure that people are not applying for jobs right now as much because of these benefits, as well as fear. However, once the extended benefits are up and people will have to chose between finding a job or cutting back on their lifestyle (likely both). If you need a job, it is best to take advantage of the time now instead of later.
It sucks, your potential employers will reject you, constantly. I would not be the least bit surprised if the average number of applications increases to 350 or higher. Be like Steve Rogers, if you want to find a job during Covid-19, you need to be very resilient.