My Unemployed Life: A Job Can't Buy You Love
Earlier this year, AOL Jobs solicited resumes from our readers as part of our "Employing America" Jobs Week Resume contest and we splashed the winning resumes, as voted by our readers, on AOL.com for millions of prospective employers to see. This Jobs Week, we caught up with a few of the winners to see how their job hunts had progressed.
In December 2008, a week before Christmas, CBS told Andrea Regusters Fox that it would no longer be needing her services. For eight years Fox had worked as a marketing specialist for the TV network in Philadelphia, serving as a brand ambassador for Survivor, Amazing Race, and Big Brother. When AOL Jobs told Fox she'd won our Resume Contest in February, she'd been unemployed for over two years.
Fox had been here before. When the federal government laid her off in 1996, she was out of the workforce for a full nine months. But at that point, Fox didn't mind starting over. It was unlikely, after all, that another public affairs position in the military would open up. "I would have worked in a fast food restaurant like I did in high school," she says. "I didn't care. I just wanted to get out of the house."
But now, with two decades of experience, Fox didn't want to start from the bottom again. "I understand I won't be making the money I was before," Fox concedes, "but I would love to work for a company that will give me room for advancement, room to develop my skills."
That job didn't come. Thanks to a work contact, she was offered a volunteer position at a local PR firm. "I wanted to keep my skills sharp," Fox says. "I wanted to get out of the house. I wanted to feel like I was contributing."
She's started volunteering there two days a week, working around the schedule of her 16-year-old diabetic dog, Data, named for a character in the early 90s TV show, "Star Trek: The Next Generation." She would wake up at 5 a.m. everyday.
Despite Fox's diligent caretaking, Data died six months into her unemployment. It broke her heart. Fox's boyfriend of 20 years wanted to reassure her that better times were coming, and that he would be by her side for the good and the bad. He asked for her hand in marriage, and they officially wed last October.
When Fox and her husband started dating, she imagined that her three-month niece would eventually be their flower girl. Now one of her niece's children did the job instead.
Their love story was so touching, the Philadelphia Inquirer featured it in the paper's regular love column. The wife of a local doctor showed the article to her husband, who was currently looking for help at the office. "Isn't she perfect for the position?" she asked.
Fox is now working part time at the doctor's office, just a 10-minute walk from her house. "It's fate," she says.
But not perfect. While she enjoys interacting with patients, Fox wishes the job gave her more of a creative outlet. When we spoke, the doctor's office was conducting a survey, and Fox was designing little postcards for it. She's taking every opportunity she can find.
While her current situation isn't ideal, Fox has learned to appreciate all that she has. When locked in your personal bubble at work, it's easy to lose perspective, "for a bad day to turn into a bad week," she explains. "A project won't go away, there's a difficulty with a client. It all escalates."
When she feels this kind of negativity creeping in these days, she thinks to herself "I'm just so happy I have a job."
After so much time out of work, she's also learned a few things. "They're always going to offer you a sales position," she says, "because sales is on commission." On Fox's resume now she states clearly that she'll happily be support for sales, but selling isn't her game.
"Don't get out of your routine," she also advises. While taking a mental health day now and then is important, waking up early, sending out resumes, and going to job fairs kept Fox sane and directed.
But there is one lesson Fox will always cherish more of all: "I've learned that my husband loves me very much."
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin. Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at firstname.lastname@example.org. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.more...