Sunday, April 28, 2002

Jobless: Is there even any hope?

I stood there wordlessly, inching my way through the unending mass of people. There must have been several hundred people crammed into less than two hundred square meters of mall area, interspersed with some twenty cubicles filled with various displays and banners. What madness is this you ask? What product could be so enticing that hundreds of otherwise sane people to participate in such a gathering, jostling for space and risking being elbowed, stepped on or maybe even pick pocketed? The answer was employment. That most important symptom of security that people crave especially in tough times such as these.

Yes, my friends, it is a job fair. Hopeful job-seekers from all over the capital converge upon this establishment in the commercial district and hope to find gainful opportunities in these otherwise difficult times. I am one of such hopefuls. Weaving amongst the crowd and perusing various company paraphernalia, I search for the perfect job for one of my skills.

Here's one, an engineering job, sounds promising. Oh, it's in Bulacan, a good three hours away from home. No thanks. Hmm, there's an opening in this Japanese company. Wait, I already applied for that a couple of months ago. How about a teaching job at some technical college? No thanks, there are better schools out there for me to teach at.

I chuckle at my own audacity. For someone who had been unemployed for a good six months now I was being extremely picky. How many job applications had I botched over the past six months? At least three that sounded promising. And for no apparent reason aside from the vague "I wouldn't like it there" or "It's not the right job for me." Sometimes I wonder what it is I really want.

Or maybe that's the problem. For someone who spent the last few years of his engineering studies whining about how he should have shifted to another course, I had no real idea about what it was I wanted to do. Well, no practical idea at least. I know I eventually want to work in interactive entertainment software (read: computer games), but that's not really a plausible option right now. Aside from that, nothing. I have no idea where to go or how to get there.

I know I need a job. Heaven knows I've sponged off my folks long enough. But what job? I look at the hordes of people applying for boring, everyday office jobs and I shake my head. I don't want to end up some office drone who can't break out of his routine. I don't want a job that is tedious and boring. I don't want to be some staff engineer doing the same things day in and day out. I want to learn, I want to be challenged, I want to expand my horizons. I want a job that's exciting, constantly unpredictable, a job where being unable to adapt can only cause disaster. I don't want a job that asks me to be tied down for two to three years. I hardly have enough attention span for a semester of classes, how could I stand being in the same job for several years? I don't want a job that's mundane, mediocre or ordinary. I want something different, something exciting, something that amazes people when they ask.

Maybe I'm being unrealistic or a bit too idealistic, as is common for me at times. But I remember one time when I asked one of the guys I went to college with what he was planning to do after his studies. He said something about joining a big company and rising up the corporate ladder. What kind of dream is that, to be someone else's employee? And this was someone who would later on graduate with honors! I would rather be self-employed, risking my own money on a venture that may or may not succeed. If you fail, then you try again. At least you rise and fall through your own decisions, your fate belongs to you, and not to some anonymous board of directors.

Alas, that's not possible for me right now, not when I don't have a shred of cash. And until I do, I am left with little choice but to undergo some mind-numbing mundanity of a job. Gainful employment is a necessary evil for now, so onward I march, ever searching for an ideal job that will tide me through until such time that I find the means to take my destiny into my own hands. My time will come, someday.

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