Updated: Sep 15, 2020
April 27th 2013, I received my Master Of Education degree in professional counseling. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. Two years prior I had decided to leave my well paying retail management job to pursue the career of my dreams, advising college students. Although some of my grad school peers had received job offers, I wasn’t too concerned because there was still 5 months left until Fall 2013, so I knew more job opportunities would come. As September approached and I was still without work, I started to panic, the longest I had been without work was three months during my last semester of UG and that was not an issue because I was finishing up college. Fall passed and the new year began, still no job. As I approached one year without work I started to wonder if i would ever get a job. It’s been 5 years since I graduated and I am still unemployed.
Now in that time I got engaged, got married and moved to another country so I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs the whole time. In fact I continued looking for work pretty much until my then fiance and I decided that since he had the full time job, I would move to Canada when we got married.With my new life beginning, I thought new country meant new opportunity. Thankfully, I was not in financial strain as I was during the previous two years. However, I moved to Quebec, where the official language of the province was French. Being an anglophone, my job search became even more challenging.
I was someone who had been working since the age of 19, being 31 and jobless put me in a painful identity crises. I felt useless and insecure. I was a failure, I told myself. I carried shame and anger for not being able to get back to work. No, money wasn’t an issue but admittedly my pride was. A year after I got married, I was diagnosed with fibroids, which is very common among women. However, mine were dangerously large. I tried to wait to have surgery (I was waiting for my healthcare card, which revolved around my Canadian residency status), but after another year I became very sick and was hospitalized. 6 months later, I had the surgery.
Before and a little after my diagnosis, I was so preoccupied with my disappointment with not working that I never even considered any reasons why it was a blessing that I couldn’t work. The side effects of my fibroids were rough, painful, and left me in bed for days at a time. I could only have imagined how difficult it would have been to be working full time and be physically ill at the same time. The pressure and stress of potentially missing work, lacking the strength to even get out of bed were all things I could have had to encounter. Thankfully I did not.
Another blessing from my unemployment is that it forced me to find other ways to stay occupied. I started volunteering, hosting group discussions with a local community organization, and tutoring students who were trying to finish their high school education. Because I formerly worked in HR I began helping friends with their career. I would look over resumes, practice with them for interviews, and coach them through a career change. I always knew that I wanted to work in the helping profession, but I assumed that it would be solely with college students. Being unemployed showed me that I could expand myself to help non students as well.
Last June, I launched Kahde Career Specialists. When I started to reflect on my career trajectory, I realized this was my life’s work. Even in grad school, I created opportunities to mentor the students I worked with on how to prepare for their career post grad. Most importantly, I knew being a career coach was my calling because if I could do it for free I would (and I did). I haven’t given up on my aspirations to work in student affairs, if anything I have identified the specific kind of work I want to do in student affairs, mentoring and advising students and alumni with their career.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned through the last 5 years is where you are in life is not who you are. I’ve learned that I can be strong through life’s challenges and that those challenges will activate latent potential in me.
In 2013, I became unemployed. 5 years later, I found the career of my dreams.
Zeinab Kahera M.Ed. is the founder and lead specialist for Kahde Career Specialists. She is a native of Atlanta, GA and currently resides in Montreal, Quebec.
© Zeinab Kahera Career Specialist. The information contained in our website, blog, guest blogs, e-mails, videos, programs, services and/or products is for educational and informational purposes only, and is made available to you as self-help tools for your own use.
This post first published on Kahde Career Specialist website on Mar 28, 2018