The “Career Path & Job Search” episode is a deep-dive of the trials and tribulations of two 23-year-old women navigating post-undergrad life while trying to secure their first “real” job. Listen to Jessica Wittich and Maddie Huffman discuss their reality during the novel Coronavirus and their thoughts on figuring out the next step.
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Art by Andrea P. Coan from Pexels
*Friends by Inossi starts playing for 7 seconds and fades under the tagline* (chill music, relaxing, slowly builds, good vibe- summer time feeling)
PODCAST SHORT/ TAGLINE: Welcome to, “For Every 20-Something Woman,” where we talk about the challenges, failures, and experiences that no one really warns you about – as you begin young adult life. I’m your host, Jessica Wittich – helping you turn some of those so-called lemons in life….into lemonade.
*music rises after host concludes and fades after 6 seconds *
JESSICA’S INTRODUCTION: This week’s episode features one of my oldest friends of 15 years, Maddie Huffman. Maddie and I discuss choosing a career, moving back home at 23 because of quarantine, high school friendships, failing, and setting more realistic short term goals.
MADDIE: Hi everyone. My name is Maddie. So, I am currently living in Philly. I go to Drexel University. So I actually had a change of heart, I guess you could say during undergrad. I started out wanting to go to dental school but really had no experience or like any idea for what I wanted to do with my life. I decided I wanted to go to PA school after dental school just really wasn’t where my heart was and so I was trying to get hours that whole summer with the idea to go to PA school. And I was just pleasantly surprised just with how much I resonated with all the nurses that I worked with and I kind of just fell in love with the profession of nursing. But it obviously wasn’t what I pursued during undergrad. So now I’m in an accelerated program which is 11 months, kinda built with students that didn’t start out in nursing but already have that bachelor’s degree. So, I really like it because the people in my program come from all different backgrounds. People are coming back as like in their forties, thirties, just pursuing a second career. It’s just interesting to know that you think you know what you are doing or you have this plan but it always changes and you can’t really plan your future. Going into college, I kinda always had this timeline in my head where it was like alright you’re gonna graduate in four years. You’re gonna get a job and that is what you’re gonna do for the rest. Of. Your. Life.
JESSICA: Right. I wish that was broadcasted more you know because every year… basically almost everyday I just think, okay, what do I have to get done today. What do I have to get done this week? And if you take it more like that, it’s easier to manage the stress and the anxiety because people think you have to have it all figured out by like basically eighteen when you choose your major and start kind of like.. Okay, well this is the career path that I want… NO ONE knows what they want to do when they are eighteen.
MADDIE: Definitely. And I find that a ton of my friends, they are starting out their first careers, about now. I guess now we have… So I’m a year… I graduated last year… So I’m a year out of undergrad but there are so many people already that, especially, after this whole pandemic, I think a lot of people are kinda like reflecting and kinda figuring out if they enjoy what they are doing. And I would say over half of my friends have come to terms with the fact that they don’t enjoy this career.
JESSICA: You know you kind of just find your way. I feel like even adults, older adults…
JESSICA: People like range 50-80, or something like that, they never knew what they were doing, inherently.
JESSICA: *chuckles while saying* The only way you find your way through life is by trying and failing, sometimes succeeding. You just kind of learn step by step. It’s not like, ok well, 10 years down the line I’m gonna be doing this. No one can tell the future. You never know what’s gonna happen. No one knew that Corona was gonna happen.
MADDIE: Mhmm. Yeah. I agree.
JESSICA: But that brings me to my next point, you just moved back in and you… were… back home with your family, right?
MADDIE: I went home thinking, you know, I’d be home maybe 2-3 weeks. I only packed for 2 weeks.
MADDIE: So that was really tough. And then, yeah I returned just yesterday. So, 3 months later.
JESSICA: It’s just crazy because I see on social media and friends… people who are in their early twenties to late twenties having to move back home from New York or Chicago, from big cities that they are living in and then to go back to your childhood home…
MADDIE: It was a huge adjustment… It was great at first…
JESSICA: You feel like a kid again.
MADDIE: Yeah, I kind of felt like I was reverting back to my high school self.
MADDIE: Which isn’t a bad thing. I kind of lost that sense of independence. It’s also kind of weird because the people I was friends with in high school like although I still keep in touch with them and we’re still close, I think I’m more similar to my college friends.
MADDIE: So… It’s just a different dynamic.
JESSICA: It’s kind of weird to think but all of your different and various friends you’ve had throughout your life they have all known a different you, essentially. So, like your college friends, know pretty much, the most up-to-date version of you.
MADDIE: It’s a weird concept.
JESSICA: And your high school friends, it’s just you lose touch with them. But, they knew you at a completely different time. So, it’s like, you’ve changed in some ways and so have they… It’s a weird dynamic.
MADDIE: I just feel like I’m able to move forward with my life now.
MADDIE: I felt like I was at a halt. That sounds bad.
JESSICA: Right. Yeah… No, I’m kinda at a halt. My journey for getting my first job and honestly, I know everyone goes through it but I feel like no one really talks about the fear and the emotion behind it. You know you are just so stressed out about like ok well, I want to live in a certain place. Hopefully, I’ll be making enough to afford rent, having a car, and being able to eat.
MADDIE: It’s hard!
JESSICA: We are talking very minimal.
MADDIE: I know my parents keep telling me, “You are in for a rude awakening.”
JESSICA: The worst part of it is like people are like, “You just network to get a job.” Okay, but it’s just not that simple.
MADDIE: It takes a certain comfort level to do so.
JESSICA: Right. Well… Honestly, it’s like you have to become comfortable being uncomfortable because you have to put yourself out there so much. And these people are willing to talk to you but are you going to get anything in the end. Obviously, they know that you want a job and need help. I guess i try to keep thinking it only takes one person but it can be hard when sometimes you feel like you are going nowhere. And I think it’s just you send out an email and you don’t get a response. Or you talk to someone, and maybe they don’t have a lead for you. It just feels like you are failing left and right. But, like you basically just have to fail a thousand more times til you get that one yes or talk to the right person who then offers you- like it only takes one person- but it’s just so hard because you have to pick yourself back up, off the ground, every single day and try again! You know you just have to keep.. doing it over, and over. The nice thing about your career path is that you had to do more school. So, that meant you have to put off going into the “real world” and getting a job for another year. And I think that was so appealing to me.
MADDIE: Definitely and it was honestly such a blessing in disguise. Cuz, I didn’t realize, well you’ll learn…
JESSICA: It’s such a weird time because like you said like you are an adult but not. Like there is more adultier adults who I feel like know what’s going on. Once you graduate you are kind of like almost a kid again because you’re done college! You can go whatever direction you want. There is not a next step…
JESSICA: And there is no one telling you, okay, this is what you have to do. And you don’t have another year of school. As a freshman in college, you’re like well I just go to my sophomore year and then I go to my junior year. After you graduate…
JESSICA: *nervously laughs*
MADDIE: It’s predictable.
JESSICA: Right. And I think one of the amazing things about grad school is its almost peace of mind knowing that, okay, well I have 1-3 or 4 years left of school and it’s just you get to NOT experience the hard-ness of trying to find a job.
MADDIE: I think I need to learn how to really set smaller goals.
JESSICA: Right. Me too. Because again with the job, I’ll think… UGHHH….
MADDIE: I jump to these…. I told myself like yeah, I’m just gonna go and get my masters in nursing like one year out. But, in reality, let me… just go with the flow.
JESSICA: And maybe enjoy your life, too.
MADDIE: And a lot can change in one year.
*Friends by Inossi starts playing in the background, subtly*
JESSICA: Yeah, it was so fun catching up and you know, everyone goes through some of the problems that we’re going through. And it’s just nice to talk about it. And just put it out there.
MADDIE: Completely agree.
JESSICA: And, you know, people ALL experience the same things. And it doesn’t help bottling it up or just not letting people know you’ve been through it too.
*Music rises and then fades for 5 seconds*
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Music by INOSSI
Guest: Maddie Huffman
If you are ever feeling extremely overwhelmed and your anxiety feels uncontrollable, during any point or time in your life, reach out to the following resources:
Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741. You can talk to trained counselors on a one-on-one basis.
Mental Health America: You can take a screening test on their website and there are professionals that you can get in contact with.
National Institute of Mental Health: You can learn more information about anxiety disorder through this organization such as signs, symptoms, and treatment options.