06 June 2010

Working in the working world

I recently began working for what I like to call a "Big Kid" job. You know, 40 hours/week, salaried pay and benefits. It's great, mostly because when I was in school I was "working" for probably 60+ hours/week. Suffice it to say, I am beyond excited to work 40 hours, then go home and do other things. It's an interesting transition moving into the workforce, particularly at an economic time such as this. I wanted to celebrate getting a job, but everybody else I know who has graduated (and who matters to me) is still job-less. Granted, it's only been 3 weeks since graduation. All the same, friends and the such are becoming anxious about the job search, while I get up and go to work on my usual 9-5 schedule. I don't feel guilty, really, because I worked hard in school and feel like I'm qualified for the job I was offered. However, that brings up some interesting privilege issues for me. I doubt I got this job simply because I'm a hard-working, badass individual. I'm certain that any number of things played a part in the offer, but here are some things I know:
  • I am white; all but one person at my new workplace (based on my perception) is white. This, to me, is particularly curious because the work done by this non-profit is for a community of folks that is disproportionately made up of POC. For me, there's a bit of an awkward power dynamic because of that. Also, if I were a POC seeking our services, I might be a bit uncomfortable sharing the intimate details of my life (which most clients do, considering the details of the job) with someone who, relatively speaking, doesn't "get" those details that well.
  • I am a woman hired into a non-profit setting. While I'm not willing to go find statistics, I can safely say that the majority of folks who work in the non-profit setting are women. Interestingly, a vast number of our clientele is made up of men, identifying along the range of sexualities. It's really no surprise that a white woman was hired on, though it is interesting that the make-up of the staff at this particular non-profit is pretty evenly split between the menfolk and the womenfolk.
  • I'm a VERY recent graduate that applied for an entry-level non-profit position. During the group interview with 8 other applicants, I took note of the people in the room. Of the 9 of us, here's what I gathered: 3 men were present, one who appeared to be a man of color, 2 who I perceived as white, and one who openly identified as gay. Of the 6 women in the room, all appeared white to me, and none openly expressed an identity other than straight. Three of the applicants identified as NOT recent graduates of an undergrad degree (or, in this case, were non-traditional applicants for an entry-level position) while all the rest of us identified as recent graduates (within the last year). Needless to say, I blended into that crowd identity-wise, but I must have done something right to have been offered the job.
Anyway, maybe all of that doesn't seem terribly relevant, but I think it is. Part of me wants to jaunt about with my chest out, telling people, "well, yes! As a matter of fact, I did get a job promptly after graduating during a terrible recession! I must be awesome!" But, the truth is, I think my identities (which I cannot control in some cases, but have the fortune of addressing and recognizing anyway), and especially those that are dominant societal identities, played an important role in my obtaining a job right after graduation. Nevertheless, I think I'm awesome and think (hope) I'll be awesome at this job.


  1. It is interesting to think about how our identities affect things like job searching. while those things play a role and I would be interested to know what would happen if we could change some of the identities and see what would have happened you are most definitely qualified for the job and I still stand by the assertion that you will be amazing at it.

  2. Damn. Awesome observations, girl. I don't hear many people talking about that nowadays. Way to acknowledge your privilege but also not let it keep you from working hard. Maybe you can use your platform as a way to diversify your workplace? Whatever you decide, big ups on scoring a job in a bad recession. Big ups!