No job, no friends, no hope in NYC
December 8, 2014 9:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm lonely, unemployed, broke, and absolutely miserable after moving to New York City after finishing school. Please help me.

I graduated from college this past spring with a BA degree in the humanities. I came here in August and thought I'd find a job soon enough. I'm a web developer with a Drupal and PHP background - I worked parttime as a student webdev for three years during college. Now it's been four months and I've had about a dozen interviews but am still unemployed. I've applied to webdev, IT, helpdesk, and web design full time jobs, temp agencies, and various retail stores and restaurants. Normally I hear nothing, but even when I have an interview that I think goes well... it turns out that I didn't get the job. Every single day I wake up hating myself a bit more for going yet another day with no job, and it's harder and harder to find the strength to try.

I don't know anyone in the area - my roommates (who I don't really know anyway) are all on different schedules and I never see them. I think I have depression and I need help (therapy, meds, something) but I have no insurance. My self-worth has taken such a hit from the endless failed applications that I can't even convince myself to get outside and try to make a friend. Whenever I try to spend money on myself (new clothes, something tasty for a snack, a local concert) I feel so guilty that I end up not doing or buying anything at all.

I've tried OK Cupid and I've been on two or three dates, but thanks to my moon they have all been stilted, awkward, one time deals. Not even a goodnight kiss. Now it just makes me feel worse than not trying at all, but the need for some sort of connection only gets stronger.

Nowadays it's all I can do to wake up and take a shower without bursting into tears. I'm doing all that I can and it's not enough. I'm not sure what's left to try. What am I doing wrong?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (24 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Spend some of your time volunteering? This site has lots of opportunities in NYC (some one-time, some recurring – you can try some different ones). It'll give you a reason to get out of your apartment and do something that makes you feel good and useful. And of course there are no guarantees, but you might meet some possible new pals or get leads on employment, too.
posted by lisa g at 10:28 PM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

I recently finally found a part-time job after at least six months of job hunting, so I totally understand how discouraging it can be to feel like you're constantly being rejected. It might not feel like it now, but everything will be okay eventually.

Have you done much networking within the tech industry in New York? If not, are there relevant Meetups that you could go to? Workshops or events at OpenTechSchool?

You might also like to consider applying for Hacker School. They don't charge any tuition fees, and they offer some grants if you are a member of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in tech. You could spend three months learning new programming languages, meeting new people, making connections within the industry in New York, and hopefully get yourself some kind of internship at the end of it.

Another option would be a coding bootcamp, especially if you choose one that doesn't charge fees until you find a job. I think that a lot of the bootcamps have industry connections, so that could be a huge help in getting your foot in the door somewhere.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 10:56 PM on December 8, 2014 [11 favorites]

It might be worth calling the New York health insurance exchange to see if you are eligible for subsidized insurance - their website is here: (Ignore the note on that page about open enrolment being closed, I'm pretty sure that's not correct). That might give you a starting point for addressing the depression.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 11:31 PM on December 8, 2014 [7 favorites]

I've been there. I'm sorry that's happening; isolation does strange things to you. FWIW, when I was there, I applied to graduate school, which has turned out to be a much better social environment. I don't know if that might make sense for you? Anyway, you're welcome to contact me if you want to Skype occasionally. Just send me a message.
posted by Triscuitier at 12:47 AM on December 9, 2014

If you can find subsidized insurance like une_heure_pleine suggested that would make it easier of course, but you might be able to afford some kind of treatment even without insurance.

You can probably visit a normal family medicine doctor for $100-200. I'm not saying that's cheap, but if you can pay for one or two doctor's visits the drugs themselves might not be too expensive: generic versions of standard off-patent SSRIs like Zoloft and Prozac are actually fairly cheap. Looking at for New York City a month's supply of sertraline (Zoloft) is around $20 at Target, and apparently can be even cheaper with promotions.
posted by duoshao at 3:11 AM on December 9, 2014

I'm in New York and I sometimes hire Drupal developers on contract -- WITH HUMANITIES EXPERIENCE no less -- for projects, and know other people who do at my organization as well. My organization also hires f/t Drupal people at various levels. Plus there are very lively Drupal user groups who have many events all year long, and I can point you to some of those folks or you can start here. The NYC Drupal community is a welcoming and big scene, it might be the answer to both of your frustrations.

I don't normally do this sort of thing, but if you want to get in touch with me let a mod know and they can forward me your actual contact information/email whatever. Mods, please oblige if you hear from Anon? You are free to send him/her my actual name and contact address as well.

If possible Anon, perhaps send me your résumé as well.
posted by spitbull at 4:22 AM on December 9, 2014 [28 favorites]

I created an email address OP can use, so skip the business about the mods. OP, it is

metafilteranoncontact @ yahoo. com (reconnect the spaces)

Drop me a line if you're comfortable. If you've got Drupal chops I can likely help you find one-off gigs at a major NYC institution with thousands of employees and a big IT department. It is quite possible I can employ you directly, as I am virtually always looking for someone with Drupal chops to keep on retainer for this and that (such as a major version migration I have to do right now).
posted by spitbull at 4:37 AM on December 9, 2014 [13 favorites]

nthing hit the exchange. It's open enrollment and if you're broke, likely you won't have to pay anything for insurance. Once you have it, hie thee to a doctor and get evaluated for depression.

Spitbull sounds like a great contact, get in touch and get a job!

Things are looking up.

Really, they are.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:51 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you need someone to just get friendly coffee with, feel free to send me a note. I have a flexible schedule and would be happy to offer some company and a friendly ear.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:21 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I know it's hard, but rejection is super common and no particular reflection on you. It can take a huge amount of work to get a job: think hundreds of resumes, dozens of interviews. NYC has millions of people to compete with, but lots of opportunities, too. It just requires a lot of exhausting legwork. That can destroy your self-confidence, which doesn't help when you do get an interview. So make sure to spend enough time on self-care. Eat. Walk in the park, or go to a museum (don't feel bad about not giving the "suggested donation"; you can pay when you've got a job). Find some meetups. Things will come around.
posted by rikschell at 6:07 AM on December 9, 2014

Is there a reason you want to stay in NYC? It's a unique place and not everyone thrives there. If viable, I would move somewhere that feels friendlier to you.
posted by metasarah at 6:25 AM on December 9, 2014

Call a local shrink and ask about a referral to somebody who will see you on a sliding scale. Somebody is out there. Also try the local universities to see if they have a program where you can be seen by interns in the psychology program. In a big town like NY, there's probably some program like that waiting for you.

I would suggest backing off on OK Cupid. You are deeply depressed and understandably needy, and that could scare off a lot of people. You feel like you have nothing to offer, and that's a bad time to look for lasting romance. I think you should focus on making friendships. You don't have to worry about trying to be sexy to attract friends, and you're probably not going to be as devastated if a potential friendship fizzles.

I'll strongly second the suggestion about volunteering. As somebody said, a good way to achieve self esteem is to perform esteemable acts. It sounds sound-bite-y, but there's something to it. Do some things you're proud of, and you'll probably hate yourself a lot less for struggling during your job search.

The job numbers are looking better, but it's still a rough time to be looking for work. Try not to be so hard on yourself. You are trying hard, and that matters. Every day that you keep trying and refuse to give up, you are doing something you can be proud of.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:31 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sounds like you need to find the power underneath despair. You're pretty much at rock bottom. Having nothing to lose means you're free to do whatever you want.

So, what do you want to do?
posted by starbreaker at 6:33 AM on December 9, 2014

if you're unemployed and presumably have some student debt and have no projected income for 2015 because you don't have a job yet...then you probably qualify for medicaid. apply for medicaid, get some medical attention for the mental health part of this & be gentle with yourself. december is slow for hiring anyway with the holidays.

and you're not alone - there are many others in the same situation as you who, like you, are intelligent, capable, good people getting worn down by a shitty economy.

also listen to starbreaker!!
posted by zdravo at 6:52 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't forget physical care too - Dr. Dave doesn't do psychiatric help, but he could probably refer you to someone who does. He also doesn't accept insurance (he's morally opposed to the concept) and instead sees people on a sliding scale.

He's also a cool-ass dude who sometimes does things like deliberately hang out in coffee shops on purpose hoping that people will come and ask him for medical advice. An actor I know was interviewing him to do a one-man show about him, but the actor had a cough, and about five minutes into the interview, Dr. Dave interrupted him to ask him about it - and after a couple of questions and a quick exam, he wrote the actor a prescription, telling him "take it to Sid at this address, tell him I said it was on me." Didn't charge him a thing.

You may end up with a regular doctor, a referral to a psychiatrist, and a friend.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Hey anon, I can't help with the job situation but it looks like there are 2 nyc metafilter meetups coming up soon - I'll go if you do! Drop me a note, I'm always too scared to go by myself :)
posted by bahama mama at 7:36 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Let us show you how friendly a place NYC actually is. For reals.
posted by spitbull at 7:57 AM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

Our modern society is kind of backward. In earlier days you would do physical work to help produce food and provide shelter as part of a community. Your worth and value would be obvious, and you would feel competent. Today we're so far removed from that way of being, we can't provide our own food and shelter even if we want to, except by opting out completely and living off the grid or on the street. Our access to these things is blocked and the only way to get them is to do something that society finds valuable. But society is driven by capitalists and corporations, and most of what these entities find valuable is actually just finding ways to screw over other people and make owners rich. If you don't fit this mold or you don't want to do these things, you are going to have a rough time. But that's not your fault. That's on society.

Also, there aren't enough jobs, period. It used to be that you could walk into a store and talk to an owner and apply for a job. Now you have to drop off a resume through an online system and you have intense competition and you are ruthlessly and inhumanly filtered. Globalization has moved entire industries overseas and automation has made entire industries disappear and we are just at the beginning of this. Self-driving cars are coming, and then professional driving ceases to exist as a career. All kinds of middle-class office jobs will disappear as software gets better at managing and processing information. All kinds of people that society currently depends on will suddenly be told they are no longer of any use. But their value as human beings obviously doesn't change. Society does, and it's fickle. The system needs fewer and fewer people. It has no interest in providing safety and comfort, and so "careers" are disappearing in favor of contract work with no benefits and low pay. Competition for the vanishing slice of the pie is fierce and most people wind up on the wrong side, even with those fancy college degrees and the loans that will take decades to pay off. Most of our generation. Most of the next, too, and the one after that, until the pitchforks come, which is looking pretty likely in our lifetimes, I have to say.

All this to say, yes be discouraged at the state of the world and how hard this is, but don't let it in. Don't internalize this message that you have no value because it's bullshit. No-one has any value in the eyes of the system. We all have to hold our noses and engage with the system until we figure out a way to do things on our own terms, if we're lucky, but we don't have to buy in to what it wants us to be on the inside. Failing to find work is not your failure and you are doing nothing wrong.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:05 AM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

The New York Metafilter community is a fun and friendly bunch. (Evidence!). If you feel up to it, come join us sometime or message us individually. (I agree with Ursula Hitler that this is not a good time to use OKCupid. Online dating is fraught with snap judgment and rejection, not what you need right now.) That said, being "on" and reaching out to meet new people can take mental energy you may not have right now, and sometimes when you're depressed it just leaves you feeling more lonely, reminding you of what you don't have. Do you have family or good friends in other places you can talk to? Skype, e-mail, you visiting them or them visiting you? Lean on your support network, if you have one, even if they aren't physically with you.
posted by unannihilated at 9:10 AM on December 9, 2014

Just so you know, the "New York blues" are a common thing for people moving to the city. Many, many people suffer a severe emotional shock after moving there if they are not used to living in a large, expensive, loud, dirty, isolating urban city. For me, it lasted about six months. I was like you: super-broke, lonely, depressed, and having a hell of a time getting a job.

Good luck! You'll get out of this. I know it.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:44 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Come to my meetup on 12/18 and I'll buy you a drink (or a pizza if drinking isn't your thing)! I know it's hard; I'm a native New Yorker and I still feel the way you do sometimes, despite living here my whole life.
posted by ferret branca at 2:23 PM on December 9, 2014

You're probably not doing anything wrong. Job hunting sucks and college does not prepare you for it at all. I graduated in May, and I've been job hunting ever since. I ended up signing up as a volunteer with 826NYC in September because folks on MeFi recommended it. Now I tutor kids once a week. I was really depressed when I started (I couldn't get myself out of bed during the day; couldn't convince myself to shower), but working with those kids and seeing how much they improve every week was so. fucking. great. For the first time in months, I was excited about something.

I didn't ever find anything through a temp agency. Keep applying to retail. I sent out around 15 retail applications in July and finally got a series of calls for interviews months later, in September. My store hired me when they saw I had a college degree and customer service experience (stress the latter if you have it). My retail job has made me feel a lot better, because it gets me out of the house and forces me to exercise and talk to people. Plus, my store is full of May 2014 graduates who couldn't find jobs, so there are other people who know where I'm coming from. And it motivates me to keep applying for better jobs, because I don't want to make $9.25/hour for the rest of my life.

Does your school offer career counseling for alumni? I signed up for meetings with my school's alumni career counselors until I found one I liked (another introvert). Now I have pretty regular phone calls with him, and it keeps me on track. He's worked with me on my resume, on my cover letters, and on my interviewing skills. He also forwards me jobs sometimes (I have an interview for one of those jobs next week; it is my very first irl interview for a "real job" in four months). So that shit works, is what I'm saying. Job hunting and interviewing is this big, stupid choreographed dance, but a career counselor will figure out what's wrong with your choreography and help you fix it.
posted by topoisomerase at 3:58 PM on December 9, 2014

Can you find a volunteer opportunity where you can use your technical skills? When I was unemployed in SF I worked with the Taproot Foundation. They have an office in NYC and have tech-based projects. It gives you something to talk about in your interviews, and will get you out of the house!
posted by radioamy at 4:21 PM on December 9, 2014

OP, no pressure, but I was serious and I haven't seen a resume from you. I promise absolute confidentiality if you send it, but I am seriously right now in the middle of searching for a Drupal developer to manage a migration of a big site from version 6 on an old server to version 7 on a new server, with most of the work involving migration of content types and views to 7-friendly forms, a bit of theme tweaking, and some cleaning up of information architecture.

If that's the kind of thing that you're comfortable with I absolutely have at least an hourly-rate gig to see if we work well together. I might mention that you'd be working (or at least meeting with me) in an environment surrounded by smart young humanities grad students, many of whom are new to New York too.

So really no pressure, but it occurred to me that you might be worried about compromising your anonymity, and I wanted to reassure you that I will guard it zealously if you contact me under your own name.

And anyway, there's nothing you describe about your situation that isn't familiar to most or all of us at some time in our own lives. Me too. More than once.
posted by spitbull at 6:14 AM on December 12, 2014

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