How do I survive being unemployed
January 8, 2011 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Being unemployed is bumming me out. Help me make sense of this.

I'm 37, female, and unemployed (well, I guess underemployed since I work part-time). I was laid off from my position as a high school counselor at the end of the school year in June 2010, so it has been exactly 6 months. I was lucky enough to be able to be offered a couple of days of work per week at my previous job, but at a much lower pay rate and a position that is essentially reception. While I am extremely grateful to have something to fill my time a couple of days a week, I am finding it hard to not consider myself a giant loser. I never expected the hit my self-esteem would take in losing a job, and I am still reeling from the loss and feeling like I will never recover from this. I've applied to so many jobs and have only had a couple of interviews. I also had worked long and hard (while working at previous job where I now do reception) to finish my Master's degree in school counseling, and now feel like I am hanging my head in shame for having to go back to my previous job.

When I found out I was being laid off, I immediately started researching different grad certificate programs and found one that I was interested in, enrolled, and I am now working towards that.

Here's the issue - I will have to complete a 1 day a week internship from July to November of this year. This means that I will either have to:

a. Put the search for a full-time job on hold until after I finish said internship
b. quit the program and take any full-time job I can get
c. Keep looking for a full-time job and hope that they will hire someone who needs a 4 day work week for those months
d. Look for a part-time job that will make me feel better about myself
e. any other ideas?

I would love to find a full-time job, one that will accommodate the internship, but given that I've had no luck finding a job in the past 6 months, I don't see the likelihood of that happening. The question is then, if I have to remain at the place I'm in, how does one continue and not feel like a loser, failure, hopeless, etc. I am on antidepressants, see a therapist, have friends, etc., but I feel very alone in this unemployment misery. Help!
posted by Sal and Richard to Work & Money (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
What's the chance that the internship will actually turn into employment?

What's the chance that you'll find something else?

Go with the better chance.
posted by k8t at 3:01 PM on January 8, 2011

Is there any way to speed up your internship by going every day for a shorter period? I would ask around at your certificate program - you can't be the first non-traditional student who has trouble taking off an entire work day a week.
posted by fermezporte at 3:12 PM on January 8, 2011

Response by poster: Nope, no way to speed up the internship. It's actually a "skills lab", not an internship exactly. It's like a class where a professional in the field, in this case, an Orientation and Mobility specialist, teaches the class practical hands-on approaches to teaching future clients.

K8t - eventually it will lead to a job, but I won't complete the program until summer of 2012. The prospects will be much better than my current one.
posted by Sal and Richard at 3:30 PM on January 8, 2011

Best answer: C. Don't rule out finding a full time job, but as you know it can take a long time to find them and get hired, so don't quit the program in the meantime. And if they want you, they might want you 4 days. The program and internship are helping you to get to your goals, stick with them.

You are SO not alone -- almost everyone I know who's been laid off (myself included) has felt the same way after awhile. It's such a hard place to be in because it's a positive feedback of feeling like a failure and thus failing to try to get out of that place. But! You are doing the right things to keep working part time and doing this new program. With the internship you'll be even busier and be making yet more networking contacts. You might also look for other jobs that are part-time, but more hours than the current one.

Mostly, though, keep your chin up. You do good work, you know that - they wanted to keep you any way they could at your old school. You're making progress toward your goals. It will get better.
posted by ldthomps at 3:32 PM on January 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I left a teaching position in June 2006 and due to having a masters and 12 years experience, I was too expensive for the rural systems that had job openings.

I did ultimately return to graduate school to begin an Education Specialist degree in Administration. Before that I turned to the internet to keep me sane...

I sought out blogs that had daily updates and interested me in some way. Either in education or technology, etc... By 'having' a daily schedule of things to do, even though it wasn't a job, kept me from feeling so lost, crazy, whatever I might have been feeling at the time.

Fast forward to the present and I've completed the Ed.S, found a job in the fall of 2007, and still continue to visit some of the websites I found way back when...including the green hive known as

Much luck to you...
posted by bach at 4:03 PM on January 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you have any side interests? This is the perfect time to pursue these. Volunteer for a while. Assuming you can make ends meet for a while, consider this an opportunity. I've been unemployed about three times as long as you and have come to the conclusion that I'm not that interested in the cubical life any more.
posted by Gilbert at 5:16 PM on January 8, 2011

Skills labs are great but they almost never turn into a job you want to have. They are meant to be a lateral move that will help you make up your mind about another job. You should be thinking about what you really want to do, maybe career counseling could be a good line of work?
posted by parmanparman at 7:06 PM on January 8, 2011

Response by poster: parmanparman - the skills lab is part of a class in the new program, which is orientation and mobility. I will have an internship, but that won't happen until summer of 2012 at the end of the program. The skills lab is a required part of the certificate program.
posted by Sal and Richard at 7:37 PM on January 8, 2011

Best answer: You're not a loser. I don't care what you have to do to believe that in your core but there's a lot of us out there. We are looking at no less than a global realignment of global economic power and there's millions/billions of us affected.

The best advice I can offer is to keep the destination in mind but to really focus on the day-to-day. You don't know when your big break will come, so stop waiting for it. Make sure that you are going broadly toward the career destination but buttress yourself for the tough times today.

Try the Charles Schwab method:
Make a list of five things that must be done to move forward at the end of Day 1.
Do those five things on Day 2. Write down the five things for Day 3.

Don't force more than five. Don't think that you can change your life or that you have more control over this than you actually do. It's going to be an experience and just be gentle on yourself and do a few things with great energy and then let life provide you with the next steps.
posted by nickrussell at 4:18 PM on January 9, 2011 [6 favorites]

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