Tag Archives: failure

The long hard road

It isn’t a long shot to call the march towards gainful employment gruelling. In fact, I can think of several more choice terms: humiliating, degrading, daunting, pointless.
There comes a point when doing something repeatedly without any change in outcome becomes insanity. Well call me insane because I must hold the record for number of repeat applications to firms. Where’s my parade?
It isn’t as though I’ve stopped in time, crystallised and stagnant in my life. I’ve done concrete things to add to my CV. With every passing year and with every reiteration of my applications, I have things to add. I’ve taken risks, I’ve taken action, but it seemingly is never good enough.
Let’s see, since my last round of applications, I have: gone through an internship where every person my level was at least 8 years younger. Gone through the humiliation of returning to university where again, everyone is on average at least 5 years younger than I am. Tried to do more entrepreneurial things like joining case competitions and running a business. Nothing seems to make any difference…
The application process currently in place is a particularly cruel one. It’s a multi stage process and prior to interviews is conducted in a bizarrely arbitrary way. One is summarily judged and then rejected based on the words one has written on a cover letter, and through grades. It would be an acceptable process if one also managed to get an answer as to why one was rejected in the first place. What was the screening out process? Was it grades based? CV based? How much of a kiss-ass one can be through words? Or a braggart?
It’s not that I don’t understand-yes, it is time consuming to sift through thousands of applications and yea it will be hugely time consuming to explain to the 90% of people who don’t make it why they weren’t up to scratch. Although really, how hard is it to craft two separate emails; one giving CV reasons for rejection and the other grades reasons? 
I am frustrated. Of course I am. Also dejected and humiliated. Because once again, I had the audacity to hope and once again those hopes were summarily dashed with no explanation. How can I change, do what I need to do if I don’t even know what’s wrong in the first place? 
Of course I wonder, what if I had spent more time crafting a cover letter with more ass kissing, more pointed selling of my attributes? Would that have made any difference? And obviously I don’t have the answer to that question…
The underside of this equation is that the doubts that I have about the risk I’ve taken, attempting the risky procedure of a mid-career change is for nought. The dark doubts of whether or not I made the right decision is ever lingering and it flares up whenever I find yet another rejection in my email inbox.
I weigh up the options I have on a daily basis; almost everyday, I am reminded about my dwindling options, the lessening hope and increasing dread that I was wrong and that at the end of yet another degree, I will find that I am saddled with another useless piece of paper and no means of supporting myself financially. It gets harder to forget, this doubt. It gets harder to remember why I embarked on this journey in the first place.
Do I want to rail against the unfairness of it all? You bet I do. I am, on paper, equally as qualified as the lucky ones who get through. Can I blame luck or fate? I’d love to. But rationally, I can’t blame anyone else but myself. At the end of the day, I was judged as unworthy, whether because I failed to adequately sell myself, or because I wasn’t able to show the requisite amount of enthusiasm. Age does that to you, it saps the youthful enthusiasm and naïveté that one has in the flush of youth. So perhaps it was just my sober approach towards writing out my applications which was the cause of my downfall.
I wonder how to continue onwards… I do. I wonder if this is worth it… And above all things, I wonder what else I can do and how I can actually find the will to carry on.
End rant. 
I am so so aware that I am not the only person who is in this boat. I am so so cognisant that a large, huge percentage of my cohort are facing the same challenge. What is it that we can do about this? Perhaps if we all banded together and boycotted firms which used this cruel application procedure. Although in doing that, we would presumably not apply to 90% of firms.. And in my fantasy, I’d also like my own island with personal 5 star resort attached..
The sad reality is that applications isn’t even the end of the road.. Once that hurdle is surpassed, there’s interviews, there’s more people to impress, higher and higher up the chain. There’s the long road of actually doing the work and impressing bosses so that one does not have to hunt for another job in two years. Up or out, as the firms love to say. 
I am filled with fear; so much fear because the stakes are much much higher for me. Being older does not confer any kind of advantage, it in fact, reduces the amount of time I have left to futz around… As I flounder, drowning in the sea of rejection emails, I am left clutching at whatever straws I can find… Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?

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Anatomy of a breakdown..

This is a record of judgement day aka the day I find out my destiny…

The time is now 11:30. Judging from last year, I probably will not hear about the job until later in the afternoon. Which is good and bad; good because I don’t have to suffer too long at work before being able to take of and cry in the privacy of my own home; bad because I am now in a frenzy of nervous anticipation and am on the verge of tears anyway…

Refreshing and refreshing emails really doesn’t do very much for ones state of mind…

Ditto with refreshing ones applicant profile. Stop fucking doing that!
*5 seconds later, catch myself doing exactly that*

Begin bargaining and pleading phase, or more accurately, continue bargaining and pleading with higher powers. If I get to the next stage, I will quit smoking; quit moaning; donate lots of money to charity; even wash poor people’s feet with my own damned hair. Please just let me get this job….

Philosophical ruminations about what would happen if I did or didn’t get the job run through the back of my mind.

What the fuck does application under review mean anyway? Oh shut up, I know what it means, I just mean, what it means in terms of HR speak. Yes, I am no longer making sense. But does it mean I still have a shot? Are they undecided? Have they already decided to reject me but haven’t gotten around to changing the status of my application yet? So many questions..

Ok, I can do this, I can get through the uncertain minutes, the hours filled with the fucking sick feeling of not knowing. All I have to do is breathe. And for fucks sake, stop checking my phone because it will make no effing difference. I feel the urge for a cigarette or 8 but I kind of promised the higher powers that I would trade cigarettes for this job. Hell, I’d trade my various Dior jackets for this job..

I am going insane. I am driving myself crazy. And for what! It’s not going to happen, period. Now shut the fuck up, brain and go and buy some cigarettes..

Brain: hmmm, it’s been 5 seconds, let’s check to see if that email has come through, shall we?
LET’S FUCKING NOT BRAIN! SHUT UP! I WANT TO JUST NOT THINK ABOUT THIS ANYMORE!!!!! AAAARRGGGHHHH!!!

I can’t do this. I need to know either way.. Whether I got to the next stage, if I didn’t, I just can’t not know anymore. Yes, I am more than aware that I will potentially regret finding out because most likely, I will be running for the toilets in order to barricade myself in the only stall just so I can cry in relative privacy. Obviously, I will not be crying if I do get to the next stage of the application process. I will be joyful and smily and gosh darn ecstatic. I will go home with a big smile on my face and a positive can do attitude.. I don’t foresee that happening though; I think I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that it will be tears and fried chicken tonight.

No thanks iTunes, I don’t want to learn about that new U2 album; all I want is to fucking get this job.

It is 1:30. I cannot believe only two hours has passed. I also cannot believe how neurotic I must come across. No wonder I am single and in a shit job. Hooray life. I really want a cigarette but what if that jeopardises my chances? Like what if the higher power says, ‘oooohhh he smoked when he said he wouldn’t, no job for him now.’ Also, it would be nice to be not be gasping for breath when I go for swim training on Sunday. Maybe Beau will finally acknowledge my existence and say hi to me. Perhaps if I dive into the pool of the blocks and lost my trunks, he might actually speak to me. Wow, I spent the past few minutes not thinking about this application outcome but instead spent it fantasising about a guy who doesn’t even know my name. Great.

I cannot take the strain for much longer.. It’s 2:30, the wait is agonising. What if I don’t hear back today? What if they lied and only said they’d get back by the 12 to fuck with the candidates? At any rate, from last years experience, it will be about another half an hour-an hour before the email drops. And then I can either cry out of relief or sadness. Not that I haven’t already been crying out of nervousness…

The moment arrived, and passed in what seemed like warp speed. I knew what it would say and I didn’t know what it would say. But in that moment, reality began to crystallise and take on it’s sharp edged form. I can smirk and say I knew it but I didn’t; I truly thought there was that one little bit of hope.

Bring on the tissues.. Funny how something I expected to happen can still hurt so badly. I suppose now I can smoke with impunity. No need to worry about higher powers and such.

I have smoked 5 cigarettes in half an hour whilst sitting on a bench outside the hospital and crying, not flat out bawling, just dignified tears with an accompaniment of light sniffling. There is something about the sight of a grown man sitting on a bench outside a hospital chain smoking that seems to unnerve people. Passers by stare at me and take a wide berth. My heart isn’t breaking so much as it is bruised.

I feel like I could sit on this bench forever. It’s comforting. Of course I would also need my cigarettes. Nothing much seems to have a point anymore. I am hoping to get all the crying done before having to walk home. Fat chance of that happening..

There is always this little hope that maybe I’ll get another email with like a ‘sorry, we goofed up, you actually got in’ message. But I know that’s crazy thinking. Despondent and crazed, that’s probably my state of mind right now.

Why do I cry? What is the point of all these tears? It’s not like I didn’t even foresee this happening. Why can’t I just pull myself together? Then again I’ve never been the most ‘together’ person.

Is it wrong to cry whilst listening to ‘Something Good’ from The Sound of Music? Not really. It’s more wrong to cry whilst listening to the ‘Thong Song’.. I just cannot stop crying… What is wrong with me??? Why do I have the Thong Song on my iPhone?

It’s now 4:30, an hour and a half post the event. I am at home. I am exhausted. The fried chicken place isn’t open yet so if I want to drown my sorrows in a tub full of grease and 32 bucks worth of fried chicken, I have to schlep out in public again. I could go to bed now without dinner, least I would be thinner… And my arteries would thank me for it; not that the half pack of cigarettes I’ve already consumed is helping… I just feel so dejected, and so empty and so…. exhausted. I’ve not only exhausted my easy options, I now have to face the hard decisions of what I am going to do, if I am going to really seriously pursue a banking career and should I therefore give up on this easy, blank life for the uncertainty of being a student; again and all the further problems that would entail.

I feel like a nobody, I am nobody again. Seems apt that I am listening to Baby I Am Nobody Now by Andy Bull. Which yes, I know is a kiss off song to an ex; but I feel completely invisible and unaccomplished and… small. Which is exactly what I felt precisely a year ago when the exact same thing happened. Why did I actually allow myself to hope? Why didn’t I at least ace the patent law interview so I could have had a back up? Why did I fucking sabotage myself with that opportunity? What the fuck is wrong with me?

It’s a fine time to begin thinking about everything that is wrong with my life… I am single and nobody loves me. I could disappear and nobody would know; nobody would care. I have no friends, I have no support. All I have is a family, parents who, if I were to tell them about my latest failure, would scoff and say they always knew I would fail… Where is the humour in this? Where is god or a higher power or the Virgin Mary or Jesus? Are they at the bottom of a bottle of scotch? What would be the point of drinking right now? It would only amplify my emotional state and then leave me with a huge hangover…

Wow, that is way more adult and mature than I thought I could ever be.

What am I going to do? I can’t stop crying, well I can but only long enough to take puffs on my cigarette… I can’t blame life for being unfair, because it’s not meant to be fair. Life is shit and shit happens and then you die. At the end of the day, I tried, half heartedly, and failed spectacularly. Story of my life really.

Quick eBay break. Because why not? Why not spend money on clothes I will never wear but which will give me some measure of satisfaction? Why not indeed?

I have placed bids on 15 items. I will never be able to afford them. I don’t care… I’d rather go hungry than miss out on these things.

I am so sad.. Why is my life so sad? Why can’t I seem to make things work out? What am I doing wrong?

I have no answers… I have no ideas… I have nothing.. Well I have a closet full of clothes… And that’s about it… Right about now, I’d trade it all in.. for what? Another chance? I don’t fucking know anymore…

I realise that it was a bit of an impossible ask to try to get into a banking program with no finance background. I do. But that realisation doesn’t make me feel any better.

I thought with every passing hour, I would gain some kind of clarity; some kind of insight. But nope, nothing of that sort. All I know is I gotta take it one minute at a time; I can’t bear to think about the days and months ahead.. I just have to get through this one minute at a time. In a minute I will go and buy my fried chicken. Then in 10 minutes I will get my fried chicken, 10 minutes after that, I will be eating it. That’s how I will get over this.

All is lost..

The best laid plans can and often do go awry. I had the best of intentions with my latest harebrained scheme. How was I to know that things, especially for me, never go according to plan?

By now, according to my plan, I would have secured multiple job offers and could, like a pasha accepting tributes, pick and choose, mercilessly rejecting the less optimal offers. According to my plan, I should have had something to look forward to for the next year, I could plot my exit from my current job, plan how I would make my dramatic announcement, burn bridges even because I would have no need to ever look back at my unhappy time in my current profession.

Life has a funny way of dumping a load of crap on the best laid plans. And now I have ended up with a grand total of zero job offers. What’s worse, I wasn’t even advanced to the next stage. Which means that I was, in official parlance, ‘screened out’. What makes it even more supremely embarrassing, as though it isn’t humiliating enough to not even be considered for an interview, is that I was competing against fresh eyed graduates. It should have been an uneven playing field with the odds tilted in my favour. Yes, the jobs in question were outside my field, but in the big scheme of things, wouldn’t work experience, the ability to function at a professional level trump knowledge and nous? I thought so anyway.

I do not know why I was rejected, no, screened out. The rejection emails were not very oblique, using terms like ‘high calibre of candidates’ and ‘better suited candidates’; terms which are used to soften the blow of being rejected, to couch the fact that I was not good enough.

It of course stings to know that I am still stuck where I am. That despite my best efforts, I am still trapped in my shithole of a career. I am stuck in the asshole that is academia. You might ask, why, if I hate it so much, do I still stay? Because simply put, I have no other alternative. The one thing I can do is to switch to a different work place which would also eventually turn out to be an anus of a place to work in.

What can I do? What do I do? I have run out of ideas. I made stupid choices in terms of my career, I made foolish and rash decisions which has now impacted on my ability to alter my future path, which has narrowed my choices down to one, or even zero. If even fate or god is against me, then what more can I do? I have no more answers, no more plans.. I’ve lost it all… All is black, i have no choices left but to give in, give up… This is how the story really ends, no fairy tale ending for me…. This is the day when dreaming ends..

Pawns..

How does one rebuild, rise from the ashes of a failed dream? Do dreams fail? Or are they just the wil o the wisps of disappointment, little slips of the potential could have beens and now never will be; shadows of a life unfulfilled.

I do not know why I failed. I have no conception on whether it was through my own fault, or if it was the fault in my stars. Were they not aligned? Was it ever meant to be? Maybe it just isn’t my time..

I have lived through the endless wistful days, the days when every fibre of my being is wishing for this to be my time. I have prayed, god did I pray. But prayer without resolute faith is useless. For without true faith in the power of god to make things happen, there is always room for doubt, the little crack under the formidable doors of delusional confidence.

I must admit that I still have hope, what little of it remains in my heart. The essence of which I use to power myself through these dark days. With this little reservoir of depleting hope, I manage to live, nay, not live, but eke out an existence. For I do not live, I put living of, foolish perhaps; put living the full life I should have lived, the life I want to live until I could have it perfect. What use is having an idealised version of what a perfect life is if you do not actually bother living it?

I am not unique, my predicament is routine, run of the mill. Many have come before me, and many will come after me. Even at this time, there are many like me, all waiting for their moment. And amidst the crowds of all my brethren, all of us clamouring for the same things, who is going to hear our cries? And which one among us will get their moment? For what is certain is that you can grab at a moment, snatch at whatever strings there are; but it is all a pointless endeavour if it isn’t and never was meant to be. Everyone in their rightful places; pieces on a chess board, pawns moved by an unseen hand. That is fate..

How I Got Rejected By Every Single Management Consulting Firm in Australia

There are dreams that cannot be
There are storms we cannot weather.

So claims the mighty couplet from everybody’s favourite ‘woe is me’ song, I Dreamed A Dream.

Once upon a time, there was a boy. Only he wasn’t a boy per se, more like a man perpetually stuck in boyhood through a crippling fear of failure which resulted in a failure to launch. One not so special day, the boy decided enough was enough, he’d spent, wasted really, enough time shirking adult responsibilities. The world is cruel and does not treat perpetual manchildren with any sense of wonder, this world is not one for Peter Pan’s or Pinochio’s. So he decided that it was time to get proactive, leave the comfort of his low level job with low level responsibilities and seek a career with promise, with all the stresses and binding chains of responsible adulthood like, accountability and negotiations.

This is not a Readers Digest feel good story, where a man decides on a career change and gets an opportunity. Nope, this is a story of how one man, thinking his achievements thus far really weren’t too bad and made him on par, superior to the young fresh graduates he would be competing with, tries and fails to even be considered for a job. This story is about how the man in person, yours truly, dreamt big and got rejected by every single management consulting firm in Australia. Which has got to be some kind of record… Now I wonder where on my CV I should include that little factoid.

I didn’t think it would happen.. I’d considered this possibility and flat out rejected it. After all, I had a PhD. I had work experience, granted it was in a completely unrelated profession, but surely a PhD and all the blood, sweat and tears getting one entailed would count for something, right?

It turns out it doesn’t. It turns out that truly, I have not accomplished anything of note in my life, nothing which would make me a more competitive candidate compared to a fresh undergraduate. And I’d cast my net wide, applied to every single possible firm, with the understanding that every firm was looking for something different and surely I would fit one firms ideal candidate profile…

Now if this were a feel good story, I would get rejection after rejection, until only one firm remained, one opportunity left to go, in which time I would be called in for an interview and so dazzle the interviewers with my mad case interview skillz, that’d they’ll hire me on the spot and this would then be an uplifting story of triumph over adversity which when inevitably made into a movie, will feature Tom Hanks playing me. I would have preferred Daniel Radcliffe or Michael Fassbender but do either of them strike you as a down and out of luck guy trying to triumph over the adversity of years of zero ambition?

The reality is this, after weeks of praying to St Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes, and trying to bargain with God for an opportunity (sample prayer: dear God, if you let me get this job, I promise to donate 10,000 big ones to the Catholic Church and various charities, especially that ship one which fixes poor sick people..), weeks of feeling optimistic, then pessimistic, then trying to rationalise my chances and endless, endless crying, I got rejected by every single firm. All of them. And pretty much simultaneously as well. Which brings me to the conclusion that God doesn’t really want my money.. Or that St Jude was too busy with other matters, Ukraine perhaps.. Or the prayers of tonnes of other more deserving people… I kid, I think that prayers only work if you truly truly believe that god will help you.. And seeing as I could never shut that rational part of my mind, I never quite truly believed… Or of course if you are theologically inclined, you could argue that this was god’s plan all the time, to put me through the utter misery of feeling like a loser for me to learn some life lesson.. Or that maybe being a consultant was truly going to make me suffer… But then again, I don’t quite see how one would suffer with a six figure salary and bragging rights… Of course that’s just me…

There are perhaps dreams that cannot be, but I always thought they were dreams like being a rock star when you have zero stage presence, or dreams of being a male model when you are below 6 foot, stocky and not particularly good looking. I thought those dreams were the ones which could not be, not dreams of trying to start a career after years of not caring because of misdirected fantasies of being married to a rich gay man… Ok maybe the rich gay man dream is also one which cannot be, but wanting to start a career? That’s got to be a valid dream…

My quandary now is whether to laugh or to cry… Because, rejected by every. single. firm. There’s some melodrama there…

Anyway stay tuned for the inevitable sequels; how I got rejected from every single investment bank in Australia and how I got rejected by every single bank in Australia, and how I for rejected by every single auditing firm in Australia. Should make for good viewing.. I think I will be played by Tony Shalhoub from Monk in these movies, because if there’s anyone more sad sack looking than him, I haven’t seen him…