Finding meaningful work and having an awesome marriage
January 31, 2014 2:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm struggling with choosing between a town I don't like, my marriage and starting a career as after graduating in April 2013. Where should I go from here?

I asked previously about dealing with getting married and finding work and got some really awesome advice, but I’m struggling with a bunch of things at the moment that I could use some advice for.

I graduated in April 2013 with a BSc in environmental science, and got married to my wonderful hubby in May 2013 (yay!). We both had been struggling to find work out East, and decided that we needed to move somewhere for better work opportunities, with the agreement that whoever got a fulltime job first is where we would go. Fast forward to August, and my hubby finally got a teaching job after looking over 18 months. We then moved 4500km west across the country to a tiny town in BC, and I've been here since October.

For whatever reason, I really don’t like it here. There’s aspects I enjoy like the outdoors, but am struggling to fit in here and am desperately missing my best friends (chosen family), and my Mom to the point where it physically aches. It’s been so hard this year, with graduating and moving and first year of marriage and trying to find a job in my field and feel like my mental health is shot. I’m in therapy right now and have been slowly making progress with my anxiety (I have generalized anxiety disorder).

I’ve been applying for work over the past year, and have been really struggling to find employment in my field. I’ve been lucky enough to have over 16 interviews, but no luck with actually securing a position so far. I’ve been second to the top candidate over half a dozen times, and always get positive feedback on my cover letter, resume, when I’ve asked for some from most interviews. I seem to be either overqualified (for some) or lacking experience in X that made them go with another candidate. I've done 4 years worth of internships, summer jobs, freelancing and work study and am surprised that I'm having such a hard time.

Since October I’ve been trying to find something close by in the environmental field locally or but have found nothing and am realizing that there seems to be little work here for me. After being rejected from yet another job this morning, I’m at my wits end. I HATE my current job cleaning up after disasters (i.e house fire), its mind numbing, physically exhausting, and repetitive. As an example, I spent the week washing 400 countertops after a fire. I know I'm lucky to have a job, but dread going to work.

Its getting to the point where all the job rejections, my current job, and this place are negatively impacting my mental health. I'm trying to stay ontop of things, but am getting so tired of struggling all the time.

I may have an opportunity to move to Calgary for a contract job (~6 months), but am facing down may be facing down a 1) a long distance marriage and/or 2) my partner moving for me to find a job to get going in my careers. Even if the job doesn't work out, I may have to move to find work. My hubby loves his job, and I promised him that we would stay here for two years for him to get the teaching experience he needs. He has said he would move for me and give up his job rather than stay past the end of this school year without me, but I feel like it’s too much to ask from him to give up a contract fulltime job he loves for me to start pursuing my career. The school he’s working for has a $75 000 deficit this year, and while they are not currently thinking about layoffs, his job security is not as great as we originally thought.

Any advice, insight or suggestions would be welcome. I’m at the end of my rope and have no idea where to go from here. Some questions I keep tossing around?
1) How do I choose between my career, our marriage, and his career?
2) How do I keep going in my job search?
3) Should I suck it up and stay here another school year and then move to find work for me?
posted by snowysoul to Work & Money (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, realize that it takes most people 2 years to get settled in a new environment, and most people feel excited, then lonely during those years. It's normal. On the other hand, you can still decide that you don't like your current city.

I think long distance relationships are hard, but can be made easier with some things. Would your job allow you to see each other every weekend, for example? Or would you never see each other in person until it's done? How much work are you willing to put in to make everything work? How about him?

Also, is there any possibility of delaying the contract job until he's at a good point to move?

I think the other aspect is the long term planning. If the current city doesn't work, you should make some lists: List the locations that are good for your career, locations that are good for his career, and locations where you'd each love to live. Hopefully there is at least one city that is on all four lists. If not, start talking and figuring out how to compromise.

In the meanwhile, whatever you decide, keep looking for a job that you would like. I know it's difficult, but when you find that job, you'll be glad you were still looking.
posted by ethidda at 2:20 PM on January 31, 2014

Having spent a lot of time in different corners of the province, do you mind me asking what part of BC you are in? Have you applied to Epcor and Stantec all the usual suspects?

I also moved away from friends and family to a totally foreign (as in I couldn't read or speak the language) culture at the same age, and experienced homesickness.

The best place for teaching jobs and environmental science jobs right now is in the northeast corner of the province. Fort St John is a bit of a hellhole, but it's booming and they need teachers. Dawson Creek is better. Spectra Gas is a big employer for you in these communities.

Tumbler Ridge may be a place to explore (try Anglo American).

The #1 mining export in BC is coal, so any of the Kootenay communities in the southeast should have work for you, right? The problem is the southeast corner of the province is more desirable for teachers, so it is harder to find work.

Homesickness is a mirage, and illusion. Don't give in to it. The trick is to somehow become more engaged in wherever you live now.

Don't force your husband to give up his job. Teaching (I'm a former BC teacher) depends in part on amassing social capital so you get called for sub jobs or contracts. It is very difficult to amass that social capital.

It might be worth exploring doing a short contract in Calgary, though, if only to get some money, and to get some connections for yourself.

At that point your husband will know if he has a contract lined up for September, and you yourself will have had the chance to enter the industry and amass more contacts.

But ultimately, you both need to put your marriage first, and not your careers. Careers are great for money, but your marriage is for life.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:23 PM on January 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

I was going to say that the easiest way for you to find a job is to participate in relevant LinkedIn groups, asking questions and broadcasting your availability.

Research the industry and find places where you want to work.

Start reaching out to people.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:24 PM on January 31, 2014

The absolute worst thing your partner can do is give up a full time position to follow you to your six month temp gig. This would be suicidally stupid for both of you.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:24 PM on January 31, 2014 [6 favorites]

Wow. This really sucks. I'm so sorry. Does it make you feel any better to know that you are truly in a crappy situation? Probably not.

First off, you can't choose between your career, your marriage or his career. As you're already married and in love, choose that one first. Secondly, even if you wanted to "choose your career" you don't know where that is going to be or what you are going to be doing so there's not yet a choice to be had there. Thirdly, you two have already chosen his career. You have things in the here and now which are solid. Keep those for the moment. They are good.

Do you need a second income right now? If you can get by on his income, with that freedom, what could you be doing to feel like a contributor in the now? What could you be doing to add to your own personal body of knowledge? What else besides your specific field of study are you good at and enjoy doing? It sounds like you need to stretch a little in terms of a job and fulfillment.

My guiding principle the last few years is that it's all about the people. If I enjoy working with the people then the work is good, too. It freed me up to think very holistically about my talents and what I can get paid to do and look beyond my current field (which is still in the economic dumps). In fact, I jumped industries last fall. The jury is still out on whether this will bring me inner peace but the money is great and I do like the people.

I'm also kind of crazy about keeping my options open. It can be exhausting but sometimes very necessary. So, keep pursuing the Calgary thing and just see where it goes. Unless it pays very well, it's probably not worth it for you to move away and resign yourself to a long-distance marriage. See if you can telecommute. Just see what it is.

Anyway, keep exploring paths. Take a class in something totally random (pottery or spanish or something). Exercise. Network like crazy. Keep your eyes peeled for oddball opportunities that are in your field or outside of it. I bet you can find something better than Disaster Recovery if you get creative. So, yeah, I'm going with: stick it out there for another year. Try not to panic. Do what you can.
posted by amanda at 2:26 PM on January 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thanks for all the advice so far, I really appreciate all the perspectives and getting this out of my head. KokuRyu, I live in the Northern Cariboo region.
posted by snowysoul at 2:33 PM on January 31, 2014

You've been there for about 4 months, right? Is there a chance you'll like it better over time? Your friends and family won't be in Calgary, either, right?

It just seems a bit unfair to promise your husband that the two of you can stay for 2 years, and then leave him by himself after less than 1/4 of the promised time. I think you should suck it up and stay, and see if you can make something positive out of it.
posted by Houstonian at 2:49 PM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not a fan of PG, but that part of the province has its charms.

The fact of the matter is, there will be no teaching jobs in other parts of the province. Student enrolment is declining, and everyone wants to live in Vancouver and Victoria and on the Island.

To triangulate where you are both going to find jobs, it really is going to be in the northeast.

Memail me if you would like some contacts in the mining industry.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:51 PM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can't offer much advice about your career but it might be useful to note that three to six months is when the worst of the homesickness hits you. Be very careful of making life changing decisions while in it's grasp.
posted by wwax at 6:10 PM on January 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree 100% with wwax. You've been there for only a short time and it really does take TIME to fit into a new place. If you had a good job, I don't think you'd be as homesick and sad as you are right now - you've just had a frustrating time trying to assimilate yourself into a new environment.

Speaking from way down the road age-wise from you, you can give two years of your life to something that matters without even missing it later. You're both adjusting to a new marriage and your husband has taken a position on a two-year contract - so stay the two years and build on your marriage. It won't take but a few more months and you'll begin to see things you actually like about your new place - that will make it easier, and the two years will go by before you know it. By the time the two years is up, you'll both know if that's where you want to stay. By that time, you'll also have a job - maybe even the beginning of a career - and that too will figure into your future plans.

Call Mom a lot, but try not to feel so displaced. Try to find one thing positive about your new digs before you call her and put that positive thing out there. You could also go with Skype for a more close-to-home link, but remember that this great guy you married is your future and he's probably worth it, really.

Wishing you the best from someone who's been there.
posted by aryma at 10:45 PM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Will part of your 6-month contract coincide with his summer vacation? If that reduces the potential LTR by a few months, it might be more bearable.
posted by CathyG at 3:08 PM on February 1, 2014

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