Oct 26, 2020 • 5M

A privileged job search.

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Audio versions of the Rough Drafts newsletter.
Episode details

For the last few years, I’ve been obsessed with sending and receiving voicenotes in lieu of text messages. With that in mind, the above ‘podcast’ contains the audio of me reading the below newsletter aloud, wee bits of background noise included.

I love looking for jobs. I love the excitement of finding an open post where I think I would fit and be able to make a difference I believe in. I also love interviews. It’s the chance to chat away about one subject I’m particularly confident in talking about: myself. Similarly, I love building a spreadsheet to track this information.

The title of my current job-related spreadsheet? ‘Post-MA Job Hunt’

However, there’s job hunting pre-Covid (as outlined above) and then there’s job hunting right now. My current job hunt is not the most delightful experience I’ve ever had. For the first time ever, my criteria are specific in terms of location and type of work. My current visa keeps me in Belfast until late March 2021, and very few other countries are willing to accept a United States passport at this time. Additionally, my grumpy lungs/heart keep me firmly in the category of ‘seeking remote work.’

I thrive in grassroots-level community roles. When I entered my Master’s program, I quickly began to lay the groundwork for wrapping up the year with a job in a community centre or local arts program or community education outreach group. Each of these roles, the types of roles I prefer (and am quite good at, if I do say so myself), are rooted in generalist capabilities: one day is education-centric, the next is media-centric, the next is wiping down surfaces in between art events-centric, and the next is collaborating with another local organization for a community event-centric. But, you know, Covid.

And while yes, this is challenging, and yes, this is not at all how I imagined my Master’s program would pan out when I very first decided I would eventually move to Belfast and pursue this degree (way back in 2013), it is what I have now. And what I have now is still one hell of a privileged position.

This is the first time I’m facing the struggle of having your home country’s passport be unwelcome in a majority of other places. Completely disregarding Covid-related thoughts of safety, this circumstance shrinks the world significantly. In terms of specificity apart from my job hunt, I have beautiful humans who I care for spread across so many countries, and am now unable to imagine the next time I’ll see them, specifically due to passport limitations.

My unenthusiastic feelings toward my likely return to the U.S. are just that: unenthusiastic. They are nothing like the daily dangers that Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color face simply by existing in the United States. I would also be returning to a newly built home on acreage in the Midwest. I would not be cramped in a city where Covid concerns increase, nor would I potentially experience houselessness. The most difficult aspect of this move would probably be my Mom having me reduce my belongings from taking up two full bedroom closets to just one.

The nature of my job hunt itself is a privilege. I have current part-time positions that enable me to continue perfectly fine until March 2021 while looking for remote work. Even these positions are done from the comfort of my safe and heated apartment. I’m also not looking for just any remote work, but for remote work that I believe in, which I align with on a moral level, and which continues to move us towards more justice and the feminist peace I envision for the future. All of this means my job hunt does not take me to the shelver opening at the Tesco nearest my apartment. And that is absolutely a privilege.

All of this is not a guilt trip i.e. ‘Your problems could be worse so get over it.’
This is also not praise-seeking i.e. ‘Good job white millennial woman for acknowledging your privileges.’

This is a public acknowledgement of what I’ve been internally pulling back and forth between since submitting my dissertation. The nuance and underlying aspects of every choice we make are truly innumerable, and it really can be overwhelming to go down the proverbial rabbit hole of ‘well if Covid hadn’t happened…’

Once more, there’s no neat wrap-up to be found. This is an ongoing experience and circumstance. I’m incredibly thankful to have the parents that I do, and to know that my unenthusiastic feelings towards heading stateside have nothing to do with my Mom, my Dad, or the kitties who wreak exceptionally cute havoc in that house each day.