A 23-Year Old Finding Work

It’s no surprise that you’ll constantly find articles arguing if a college degree is still even relevant.  In the US, the unemployment rate is 12.2 % for 20-24 year-olds. 33% of those who work in jobs that don’t need a college degree. According to Time, there are two things stacked against Millenials:

1. An increasingly unstable Earth to raise our families
2. A move from manufacturing to tech jobs, that demands increased level of training  and experience

Long before I graduated, I was already anxious about job prospects. I knew that I don’t want to cohabit with strange roommates anymore and that living in downtown San Francisco is too expensive. I’m also an international student, so my VISA is subject to laws by the USCIS.

Then, I had to move to San Diego, a city where I had zero network. If you’ve ever tried looking at job boards, you might as well sob in despair. Despite my honest qualifications, I was about 80% under-qualified in producing media jobs. They require 2-5 year industry experience. As the irony goes: 

“You need a job to get experience, but you need experience to get a job.”

Selfie from my desk. Double-screen, ergonomic chair, etc. and work is only from 6AM to noon.


Turning Point

When I came back from a vacation/engagement, I reached a turning point: find a job within a month or move back to the Philippines. But I have to give it 100% because I do need the experience and savings before I settle down.

I armed myself the best way I know how – read books. Two of them helped: One is Katie Couric’s, “Best Advice I Ever Got.” For the nights that I cried out of frustration, it helped to learn about how extraordinary people shaped their lives in their 20’s. Two is “New Marketing and PR Rules” by David Meerman Scott. He discussed tangible steps of an effective job search. A tip that actually landed me a job: follow up with after interviews emails until they are clear to turn you down. 

Finally, I was called in a second job interview, one that offered me a salary on the spot. I knew that moment I stepped in that I wanted to work there. New building, calm office, full studio, and friendly hosts. I accepted the offer.

What I Do For A Living

As a programming assistant for Money Biz Life Network, I research stories for the hosts, transfer callers to the studio, and edit the show for web upload. Recently, I’ve also started working on producing a sports commentary by Lee Hacksaw. These are the top two most amusing things about my job:

1. I’m awestruck at the enunciation and charm of TV hosts. As their colleague, I get to talk to them and see them work magic everyday.

2. People from all over the US call us for financial advice. One retiree goes: “I need help…. What should I do with my $2 million?” And he was so sincere in his query.

Everyday, our hosts and manager say “Thanks for your help, Crystal.” I read massive stories about horrible bosses, but there’s not even a hint of drama in our office. My colleagues come to work, play music, run to the studio laughing two minutes before broadcast starts. Professional and kind, if I were to summarize my work environment.

Ray Lucia Sr. nicknamed me after the 70’s song, ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion.’ One day he said, “Crystal, I’m using one of your articles, so I’ll mention you on-air.” 

What’s Next?

When I was in school, all I wanted was to graduate. When I did, I got anxious about job hunting. When I found a job, I worried about earning more. As Gretchen Rubin said in “The Happiness Project”:

“We are all constantly in different stages of happiness.”

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been afraid of finding work. The common phrase from my graduating friends is: “I just need the stability of a job.” That stability comes with routine (for me, waking up at 4:50 AM everyday)  and this question: “What’s next for me?”

I’m obsessed about life-long learning, from Dan Coyle’s LARP theory to Cal Newport’s emphasis on deliberate practice. In fact, I’m currently enrolled at a Duke University MOOC on writing.

I did something two days ago that gave me an emotional high: volunteering for the OneDayInSanDiego project. I crafted questions for two veterans of Workshop for Warriors, drove to different locations, and worked with a filmmaker and a sound guy. One of them said at lunch: “What did you study in college? No wonder you sounded so natural.”

Here is San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and filmmaker Jodi Cilley after our interview:

Mayor Kevin Faulconer (middle) attended a home building project in Ocean Beach.  Filmmaker extraordinaire, Jodi Cilley (right), urged me to help with the One Day In San Diego Project. I constantly volunteer to refresh my producing chops.

Cal Newport‘ sums it best. According to him, there are three main components for great work:

1. Impact – When your work positively affects people or the world
2. Creativity – When your work enables to you personalize, deconstruct, think, and create
3. Control – When your work allows you to be flexible in terms growth

That’s a tall order for a 
23-year old. I’m sure even or older folks! So, I am not there yet. But this is a lifelong thing anyway. I’m leaving you with Pope Francis’ remarkable take on work:


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