"Looking for work. Got a Masters degree."

"Looking for work. Got a Masters degree."

My july 20,2012 job search:

9:30AM.   I woke up tired and feeling like my back was up against the wall today. I’ve done everything I know how to do to get a job. I can’t count how many resumes I’ve sent out or how many people I’ve called about job openings. Nothing seems to be working doing things the same old way. So, I thought, “If someone is willing to stand on the street and ask for money, why can’t  I do the same and instead ask people to hook me up with work?” (I know. What a way to stand out with employers.) I put on the only skirt and suit top I took with me leaving Boston. I put on my make up as if I were going to interview for a job. I even replaced the blue nail polish on my feet with a softer white color.


10:30AM. I ripped up a piece of cardboard I found in the room adjacent to my room in the basement of the friend's house I’m staying at. I wrote, “Looking for work. Got a Master’s degree. Call me. 312-914-3428”. Drastic measures  for a tough economy. I kept saying to my self, “I only need one “yes”.  My phone bill is due today and I have a $1.38 cents left in my account. I was tired of getting “no” or not having anyone reply to my attempts to exchange my services (organizing, hair braiding, poetry performance, or dog walking) for money. Standing on Michigan Avenue was my last resort. I really do not want to march off to the Department of Human Services to apply for public assistance. I was number 128 waiting for food at the Homan/Lawndale food Pantry yesterday with a dear friend.

12:00PM. I hopped onto the 20 Madison bus heading downtown and was greeted by a friendly bus driver who asked me how I was doing. I told him,  “My day is going to get a whole lot better.” We kept chatting and he encouraged me to keep pressing forward. What’s your name?” he asked as I got off the bus, “I know I’m going to need your autograph soon. I’m convinced you’re going to be fine.” He was the first of many people who shared a word of encouragement with me as I shared that I’ve been looking for work for over a year. Tears welled up in my eyes when I first opened up my sign at the intersection by the Water Tower. “Don’t cry Shella,” I said to myself, “You don’t want to mess up your opportunity.” Sunglasses helped to hide some of the pain. I thought I did everything right in terms of going to school and graduating at the top of my class every time.


12:30PM. I got to the Water Tower right when any businessmen or women working in the area would be out and about for lunch. I hoped I’d run into someone from Loyola University, where I earned my Masters in Social Work. I was convinced someone would give me some information or ask me to interview for a job. Today would be my day!


2:30PM. I folded up my sign and walked to the Chicago Tribune up the street. Along with my desire to empower women and youth through the arts, I’d love to be a travelling writer. “Maybe,” I thought, “someone would want to take my story to the Tribune owner and he could hire me to write a regular column for the paper.” I didn’t leave until I at least had the information of three contacts. I got five! Three men who work for the Chicago Tribune, a Pastor of a south side church and a retired older gentleman who stated he has some friends that might be interested in connecting me with work. The south side pastor said, “ I almost crashed my car trying to read your sign. If you’re bold enough to hold up that sign out here, you’re someone I’d like to hire.” I was glad to hear him say these words. When I told to him that I’d call him about work, he said, “Oh no. I’m going to call you before you call me.”


3:30PM. I folded up my sign again and hopped onto the bus to head to Harpo Studios. “Maybe Oprah would hire me. Even if it meant mopping her floors.” Unfortunately, I didn’t see her. The building was pretty off limits to outsiders. Security offered me information to mail my resume to the Human Resources Department. I ended up standing across from Harpo Studio and held my sign at a stop sign. A gentleman with passengers riding in a grey car with an Indiana license plate stopped to give me his cell phone number. He wanted to know what kind of Masters degree I had. He waived goodbye after he had made a U-turn.


5:00PM. I folded up my sign to head home. I thanked God for the contacts I had made and said out loud, “Shella, I’m proud of you.” I never imagined I could do something like this.  I hopped back on the Madison bus. Just as I got off at my stop and started walking towards the house, my phone indicated that someone had left a voice mail. It was the pastor from the south side of Chicago calling to set up an interview at 11:00AM for the following Monday. I called him back and confirmed. I think I got my “Yes”!!!.....

7/27/2012 ...My unqiue method of job searching did lead to a job offer. Yeah!!! I need to make a decision on whether or not I'll accept it next Tuesday. I have another interview scheduled for next Monday. All of this comes as a result of my doing something different.

Stay tuned!   This Chicago living is making me bold!


Update 11/7/2013 : In Boston..Still looking for full time work....

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  • Go you, Shella for being so bold!

  • Thanks Wendy!!!

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    I'm overwhelmed with many thoughts. I'm supposed to be finishing up an APA 6th edition final edit, but now I'm all messed up. So many emotions, thoughts and feelings. Generally, the message from US institutions--the schools, the Church, financial institutions, etc tell us that if we get there early, work hard, get A's with occasional B's, get as many degrees as possible (no matter the amount in loans necessary to do so), we'll have no problems. This is not always true, and something has to truly change with respect to those of us who receive "social service" degrees. Those of us who pursue Masters and Doctorates in social work, education, etc should have this debt reduced radically. I have friends who finished degrees at University of Chicago and Northwestern and owe thousands upon thousands in loans, yet somehow don't qualify for the limited parameters of federal loan forgiveness (instituted by Obama).
    Shella, how bold and courageous. This is truly a great story in the working. These struggles do 1 of 2 things: make us bitter and critical or make us creative and push us to the greatness of our humanity. I see the latter winning in you. I have full confidence that something great is happening for you.

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  • Ooh chil, don't even get into the loans conversation..trying NOT to tip over to the bitter side!!! I'm trying to channel all the positivity I can get...I hear you Tiff..I'm expecting great things this week!!!

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