Welcome to job seeking, you!
Another young professional out here trying to make change in the world. As the first one in your family to graduate from college, you’ve transformed into a Type-A overachiever. You carry around the mild pressure of your parents hopes and dreams combined with systemic oppression demanding you work twice as hard (and then twice as hard as that since you’re not just Black, but Black and queer, and not just Black and queer, but Black and queer and gender expansive). Your humanities and social sciences education at a predominately white institution has gifted you with six figures in student loan debt, racial trauma, and little to no practical guidance on how to attain employment.
Though not all is lost! As a student you acquire a highly coveted exploitative internship at a world-renowned institution. Your classmates like your Linkedin update and smile as they inform everyone that you only got the position because you’re Black. Your references, coursework and years of relevant volunteer experience are merely coincidental.
Once you start this fancy internship, you learn that the organization is primarily staffed by consultants to avoid the costly burden of offering pesky human needs like healthcare. While this appears to be an odd contrast from the organization’s current campaign for countries to implement policies upholding the human right to health, you soon realize the organization also serves $1000 plates at luncheons to discuss poverty—so you must be the odd one. In exchange for several months at $0 an hour full-time labor, disillusionment, and occasional sexual harassment, you receive a letter of recommendation and two bullet points on a resume that will hopefully seduce your next employer into giving you the opportunity to seek therapy to cope with their toxic work culture.
It works! Almost. You don’t have the seven years of experience for an entry level position just yet, but student loan payments will come due soon and you have rent to pay on the one-bedroom apartment that you split with five other people.
So you apply to VolunteerAllyCorps. VolunteerAllyCorps, which offers a generous annual stipend that is below minimum wage, gives you the opportunity to work overtime hours that alleviate the understaffing at local non-profits and public schools in your area. Your program coordinator places you at a community organization working for labor rights, and you often run into your clients at the public benefits office as you submit your foodstamp renewals together.
Once a month, VolunteerAllyCorps gathers all its current members in your locale to share stories and build comradery. “Wow I never knew how hard it was to be poor,” your wealthy voluntourist peers comfort each other, as they discover they have privilege for the first time.
Don’t fret! You survive this too. You update your resume using a sexy Canva template and start applying for jobs on Idealist. You resist the urge to rip the face off the interviewer from the feminist NGO who advises you to style your hair more professionally, as your lush, moisturized afro must be an egregious error you overlooked. You craft eloquent explanations about your deep desire to work for each employer, perfecting your fake smile, and never mentioning the uncouth subjects of pay or benefits.
After the ninth-round interview combination writing exercise knowledge test, it finally happens. You get an offer! You accept! You’ve done it my beautiful Black young professional, you’re employed!
Your experiences the past few years set you up perfectly to thrive under all-white leadership at an employer that doesn’t really do job descriptions and features baby pictures instead of headshots beside its staff bios so everyone knows they’re super laid back. It’s a chill workplace as they slash benefits every month. They’re really relaxed about turnover happening so rapidly you become the most senior person on your team in under five months. But it’s all good, they insert gifs of Viola Davis crying in the email they send announcing layoffs.
Chin up, love! You can handle this. You may even run into some of your former VolunteerAllyCorps’ clients when you go to apply for unemployment!