Everyone’s job search story is different, but each individual story can inspire and empower others who are on their own career path. Meet Sara Samovalov, a writer who worked through her individual fears and external challenges during her job search. With hard work, a balanced approach, and a focus on self care, Sara landed a job she loves, writing for an environmental nonprofit organization.
What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?
My official title is “Content Writer & Specialist.” I work for WildEarth Guardians, a nonprofit that “protects and restores the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West.” I manage social media, create newsletter copy and website content…that sort of thing.
How long did it take you to find this job?
7 months (!!!)
How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?
I found it on Mac’s List! When it came to searching, I used every resource I could get my hands on. I networked with every friend of a friend of a friend. I went on many informational interviews. I attended networking events, including one of Mac’s. I hired a career counselor, Vicki Lind. She was probably the most helpful, especially when it came to interview prep.
To be honest, it wasn’t networking that got me my job; no one I spoke to throughout my seven months of searching had any connection with Guardians. I’d say, in this case, luck had a far bigger role than networking.
What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?
I would say there were two most difficult parts, which are interrelated. First is that I am an introvert. “Putting myself out there” is not my strong suit. I always had a gut feeling that not being an extroverted individual set me behind when it came to job searching. The best advice I can give in that respect is to find the extroverts in the room and they will help you because they thrive on that interpersonal connection.
The second most difficult part has to do with self-esteem and self-perception. My opinion of myself is very much connected to how I feel I am performing at work. Having no job means very low self-esteem. That may or may not be true of other job seekers, but I would hazard a guess that the more rejections a person receives from potential employers, the worse that person feels; It can take time to crawl out of that hole.
What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?
Don’t make your job search a 40-hour-per-week activity. You can’t live like that. Find an activity outside of job searching that you can look forward to. Maybe it’s spending time with friends, taking up gardening, training for a marathon, learning a new instrument (I did the latter three things while looking for work. And, of course, tailor the activity to your financial situation in light of your unemployment.)
If you need it–and if you can afford it–I’m also a firm believer in the benefits of therapy. Unemployment can exacerbate existing mental health issues because it’s easier to spend more time in your head. All of us job seekers suffer in some way, shape, or form, but professionals can alleviate that suffering, whether through talk or medication or what have you. Don’t torture yourself.
Why do you love your job?
It’s been my dream to write for an environmental nonprofit for quite some time. I believe in what we are doing at WildEarth Guardians; I get to do what I love and what my degrees are in, and I get to talk to incredibly smart people. Oh, and I get to live in the greatest city in the world. What’s not to love?!?