(sorry guys, there's not actually a choose your own adventure component here).
The past 6 months, I've been working food service - the past 6 weeks, I've been a cook in a small taqueria here in Portland. At first, I took a food job because it was easy and close by, and I've been taking them since because that's where the opportunities seem to be. Someone quit at my current workplace, so I got bumped up to 5 shifts a week. I'd been in training for a while, and things seemed kind of hectic, but I assumed it was just because I had been learning the ropes and that it was some problem with me.
Jump cut to yesterday. I never know my weekly schedule until the day before the week begins, and even then it is liable to change the day of - 3 times, I've been called in to work on my only day off because a co-worker called out. I'm working 5-6 8 hour shifts a week with no breaks, and I can't bring up how illegal that is to my boss for fear of being fired.
I am tired all the time. I keep working closing shifts and then opening the next day - leaving at 11 PM, biking home, and then coming in at 6 AM. I spend maybe an hour with my boyfriend a day, after he gets out of work. Ships in the night, etc.
A friend of mine showed up drunk at my house the other night. His partner left, and he didn't know where to go. I ask all my coworkers if they can cover for me, nobody can. I beg my supervisor to just let me have the night off and cover for me, she doesn't.
I leave my friend at home and go to work. We get 10 orders in my 8 hour shift. I don't make enough in tips for bus fare.
Bike home. My friend is still there, still drunk (or drunk again, I guess). It's my bf's day off, so he's been taking care of my friend for me. I don't really have the energy to hang out with him, but I stay up late talking anyway. He falls asleep.
I have a long talk with my bf. I can afford next month's rent and utilities if I put in my two week's notice tonight and just work the next two weeks.
I email my boss and give her my two week's notice, saying that I just can't work in a kitchen anymore for personal reasons. I tell her that if she needs me to stay for slightly longer than two weeks while she finds a replacement, I can do that.
I get an email back with a revised schedule for the next two weeks. I am working one shift. I can no longer afford rent for next month.
Even as I'm writing this, I know that I have nothing to complain about - I am able to find jobs, even if I dislike them, and can support myself without having to take on a second job. I have a home, and can feed myself. I have virtually no debt to pay off, and am still on my parents' insurance. I am better off than the vast majority of people my age, period.
But I still am unqualified for virtually any job that isn't food service, Uber, or a warehouse.
I was pretty good at school. I was Dean's list every semester, got the award for being my year's "outstanding senior" in my board of study, was picked to give a talk at the science symposium. I know my school wasn't Ivy League, but it's still one of the more competitive public Liberal Arts schools. (I know, I shot myself in the foot by going to a LA school instead of studying a hard science).
I've held two jobs requiring different skill sets for 3-4 years each. I have stellar references from both. I have a diverse set of skills outside of that, including music performance, pedagogy, and production; sewing; basic carpentry (unlicensed, but I can build a bathroom to code from bare wood); 3 years of customer service experience, 3 years of non-profit experience, and odds and ends here there and everywhere.
There is nothing I want more in the world than a full time 9-5 desk job. I want to know exactly what I'll be doing 3 months, 3 years from now. If it's a job in a field a care about, even better. But the jobs that I have applied to out here - the ones that I have met all the listed qualifications for and then some - haven't even called me back for an interview. I just turned in an application tonight for a job that I would love - working for a music centered non-profit that provides resources to underserved communities. I have 2 years of experience working for an almost identical program back east, and I still feel like I won't get this job.
Sorry, there's not really a moral here, and I'm sure this is a big ol' mess. I'm just burnt out, and I could use some talking to.
I gotcher perspective right here, homie.
1) You are working easy-to-get jobs because they are also easy-to-lose jobs. This sounds like pure hell to me. I can't imagine it's particularly rewarding, nor can it feel secure. You are being mistreated for money and that's demoralizing in the extreme. You feel like shit because you've been treated like shit and that'll take a little bit to shake off.
2) You are qualified for better jobs but you have no avenues for better jobs. Fundamentally, you moved to a new city where you have no network (or, importantly, no network of friends and family that can shake the tree for you) and that means that you are competing with the desperate and disenfranchised who also have no connections because the good jobs? They tend to go to the people who don't read the want ads.
So. Stop beating yourself up, and recognize that you've got a formidable barrier to your happiness. Not insurmountable, but not something you're going to casually breach, either.
It's clearly important that you continue to pull your weight. I commend you for that. A strong work ethic is one of the most valuable things you can carry around with you. Your desires are not unreasonable - "stability without manual labor" is a modest goal indeed. But you have no direct pathway between where you are and where you want to be, which will require some lateral moves.
First things first, recognize that you're going to have to do bullshit foodservice jobs for a while because they pay the bills (barely) and they buy you time. THAT'S IT. They aren't pointing you where you want to go and they aren't what you want to do. But in the meantime, you're going to keep applying for better stuff, and you're going to keep rattling the tree.
Next up, you said you did warehouse work. Have you tried Costco? Again, I'm not suggesting this as a permanent vocation but the people I know who work at Costco love it. They've worked there for years. I've go a friend who has been warehouse for pushing 25 years now and another friend who has been Costco corporate for... shit. 20 years. If nothing else, you will be less beat up while you look for better stuff.
Finally, recognize that "getting that awesome job I want" is not going to be accomplished by answering want ads.
LIST MAKING TIME
Make yourself a list of things that it would be fun to do. Don't be specific to careers, be specific to actions.
Now make another list - write those "things that it would be fun to do" across the top and go through and see if you know of any outfits that do those things. LinkedIn is a great place to poke around, and you can also search for similar buzzwords to find companies similar to the ones you're looking at. Congratulations. You are now doing corporate intel.
You've got a bit of a matrix now. Really, you've got a scatterplot of potential employers. This gives you something to work from. Now you're going to get stalky in earnest - you're going to learn about those companies, you're going to learn who works there, you're going to learn what they've accomplished, you're going to learn what they have in store. And you're going to determine who, were you to work there, you'd be reporting to. This is going to take some time - a month or two at a minimum. That's okay. Because now you've switched from "I'm terrified" and "I'm unqualified for any job that isn't warehouse or foodservice." Now you're virtually interviewing firms you'd consider working for. That alone is going to be a major boost to your self-esteem because you know what? If you can visualize yourself working there, they can too.
While you're working on that list?
Well, welcome to the Hubski Resume Club. PM me.