On August 12, 2005, I left my position with Aetna, Inc., after a year of co-founding and developing a non-profit organization (Solid Rock Collegiate Outreach, Inc. Est. 2004) so that I could additionally focus on completing my Bachelor’s degree full-time. I had been given an ultimatum to either drop school altogether, with no schedule adjustments, accommodations to work from home (as other employees within the company had been allowed) or remain in the position that I had worked in for the previous six and a half years.
Prior to arriving at Aetna, I had been in college back in New York City and had to leave abruptly for financial reasons. I had no concrete work experience, no education beyond a high school diploma and knew no one in Greensboro, North Carolina, where I had previously lived and attended high school, but had never really developed relationships with anyone other than those who also left Greensboro and went elsewhere for college, military or career aspirations. With no experience, formal post-secondary education, and no connections, it was difficult to find employment. Through a temporary staffing agency, I was placed at Aetna and did everything to learn operations within the office, from office assistant, mail room, and finally onto claims, which was my last position within the company.
What transpired after my departure from Aetna has been downright criminal and has baffled my parents, family, friends and associates, and most poignantly, me.
Once Solid Rock began experiencing hard times (pun intended), the other co-founder and I both sought to reestablish ourselves with jobs. She was able to find a job within three weeks.
It took me six years to even land a full-time, non-commission job. Let that sink in for a minute. Six (6) years. Seventy-two months. Over 25,000 applications on paper and online. The only jobs I was able to land in the period between January 2006 and September 2011 were a part-time stocking job in October 2006 (which lasted for six weeks) – following a three-month stint on unemployment benefits – and a job which did not even enable me to maintain the payments on the car that I had at the time, which made it impossible for me to get back and forth to work, as the car had to be repossessed and sold, a three-week temporary placement in November 2009, followed by another four-month stint on unemployment based upon the original claim after leaving Aetna, a summer role on minimum wage at a day camp on Staten Island, two 100% commission real estate roles in back to back summers in 2010 and 2011, where I was in the New York City Shelter WHILE attempting to help others to find apartments, due to not having money before or during those roles, due to the extended unemployment and the exhaustion of the unemployment benefits, and a per diem role with Yahoo! NYC, which amounted to 12 days of work total over five months.
Even during each of these roles, I applied for permanent, full-time work. I had graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in May of 2009 and moved back to New York for good (or so I thought). The aforementioned scenarios were the extent of my work – and each job came as a result of friends getting the jobs from the inside. To this day, I have never landed a job on merit (academics or previous experience). While this is a testament to my networking ability and strong relationships with people, this is an indictment of some companies and their hiring practices. Taking into consideration that I am well-spoken, articulate both verbally and in written form, and interview quite well, along with the strong social abilities, there is no reason that someone with over 10 years of professional experience, co-founded two non-profit organizations and now with a Bachelor’s Degree, a Masters Degree and a second one to be completed in May of 2014, should find such difficulty in finding a job. Of any sort. Because of the obvious financial issues that stem from being unemployed for long periods of time, I have been willing to take even the most “entry” of entry level jobs, and have been turned away. I have no delusions of grandeur or sense of entitlement based upon experience or academic background. However, I have a demonstrated track record and strong KSAs that would prove to be beneficial to any company to which I would provide services.
I did manage to land a full-time (although temporary, which was made clear from the onset would not last a full year) in September 2011 with JP Morgan & Chase. However, within seven months of hire, I was laid off with a few dozen others. By the end of the year in 2012, the entire office was laid off, supervisors and all.
Immediately thereafter, I found myself back on the unemployment line, where I remained even into my foray into law school. I had to leave New York to move to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I currently reside, in order to attend law school. However, much like the situation fifteen years prior as a freshman in undergraduate school, I had to leave due to financial issues. I had not worked in nine months, and had to subsist solely from unemployment benefits. Once those benefits were exhausted and I spent seven more months looking for employment in Charlotte to no avail, I found myself heading right back to the situation that I found myself in 2010 when I was in the New York City Shelter system.
I know that jobs exist in Charlotte. I know that jobs exist in New York City, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Washington State and elsewhere. I would like to know what I need to do in order to simply be linked with one of those jobs.
Furthermore, I am highly skeptical – without claiming racial discrimination or any other type of discrimination and no proof – that it is just simply happenstance that I have been unable to find anything. I wanted to make my story public, because 1) I know that I am not alone, but 2) it is one of the more extreme situations that exists in our work landscape today. For someone who is literally dying to work, going through extreme lengths and exhausting contacts and resources to achieve the desired end, I have reached the point where I want to make this public for those who claim that the job market is “getting better.”
I could understand it if I had willfully avoided further education beyond high school and had no work experience, but I now possess nearly 15 years of professional experience, an insurance salesman license, a real estate salesman license, and coming up on the completion of two graduate degrees. I am considering reaching out to local news in order to speak on my ordeal. The inability to land a job (never mind being steered away from jobs that I applied for with certain temporary staffing agency) and some of the stock rejections that I have received have made this entire seven-year ordeal a very dubious and downright criminal situation. Now facing a potential eviction in the next three weeks, solely because I cannot find employment, I feel this must be made public.