College graduate overcomes struggle to find work.

Nicole’s Testimony

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

As many of you may or may not know, I have been job searching since Donald and I embarked on this journey to move to Boston a year ago. Since we landed on Plymouth Rock, life in Boston has been nothing like we imagined it to be. In our innocence and naivete, we romanticized the city of Boston to be this pseudo-NY haven full of opportunity, glam, progressive think-tank organizations and individuals excited about the diversity of experiences we were bringing from Atlanta, GA. However, we discovered the complete opposite – a city of people who do not appreciate:

  • Style and swag
  • Diversity in many forms from outside the city walls,
  • Friendliness and/or common courtesy to strangers,
  • Cars or parking
  • Collaboration
  • Big corporations or fast food chains
  • Tall buildings
  • Good customer service

There is however a penchant for success, preppy, secret societies and cliques, all things local, and associations.

We did realize that despite the challenges, Boston is ripe with possibilities since it has managed to maintain an old-world system of existence as opposed to being influenced with the newer, progressive systems that most modern cities have eased into since the mid 1990’s. Plus we determined that despite the obvious and perplexing stigmatism of people of color in Boston (which by the way Bostonians treat as a ‘secret’), we were not going to let that faze us and the fact that we were usually the only African-Americans integrated or networking in various circles within the city. I personally did not believe before moving to Boston that in this generation, in the USA, the color of our skin would keep us from what God had for us. Thus I subconsciously deduced that I would not experience any opportunity being withheld, affected, or determined by that. However, that was not the case not to mention the choice to cut all of my relaxed hair and wear it naturally.

But with the opportunities for innovation wide and deep and presumably the appreciation for authenticity and diversity, I recall thinking that surely I would be able to catch a job in non-profit doing development or marketing since anywhere you sneeze in Boston there is a non-profit. Plus SCAD had given me so much hell with my graduate thesis that I graduated with the almighty grace of God (thank you laude). Surely, after that painstakingly difficult process, the job offers would be lining up; doors would be opened. I finally had the credentials that a Master’s degree promises to bring to make the student loans payments worthwhile. Wrong! The first month of constantly applying was a sign of things to come – unemployment.

For every 25 applications, one organization would send some form of contact to let me know that the app was received or that I didn’t get the job. For all the others, I had to try to call to follow-up which eventually, I stopped doing because I would hit walls. This is the point where I realized looking for a job was becoming a real job. I felt like Will Smith in Pursuit of Happyness; the hustle felt that real to me as the job search went along. Advice and prayers from friends and family were encouraging and helpful; but that didn’t prevent the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced throughout that time. The cycle usually looked like this: Hope, excitement, nervousness/anxiety, confusion, frustration, anger, bitterness, depression/hopelessness.Not good for the first year of marriage and what’s worse is I felt helpless against this cycle or merry-go-round no matter how much I tried to brace myself for disappointment or potential rejection.

Over and over this happened even when I got 4 interviews in a row by December. Again, the thought was “surely of these four interviews, I will be chosen.” The odds just seemed more likely and made sense to me. But one by one, I was told I did not receive the job but had interviewed well. Each job site chose an individual who was affiliated with Boston by either going to college in the area or by being in the city for a few years. I felt discriminated against on so many levels. “Lord, how could you have let this happen to me?” I felt abandoned by the Lord and for each rejection, I experienced that cycle again and again. If it was not for my husband Donald, the bitterness would have surely taken root in my heart and I would not have been open to keeping in touch with some contacts made from the interviews.

And that is what ultimately led to my victory testimony which this story is about. I am happy to report that last week, on May 6, 2013, I accepted a salary position with Design Museum Boston! I will be their membership/development/marketing/design coordinator. This is the job Donald and I have been praying for since graduation: I wanted a job at a start-up, development or marketing, entry-level but with flexibility, salary, and most importantly, I wanted it to be in design or a community; not solely art based. This is the perfect job for me and it happened because the Lord blessed us. I had previously interviewed with DMB in December and they were my first choice out of the four but the last one to inform me I was not chosen. It hurt something bad and my confidence and God-esteem took some serious blows. I felt cursed. I wanted nothing to do with Boston especially after a trip back home to the Midwest.

Then at the end of January, an angel from God in the form of a stranger on a plane encouraged me, exhorted me to pick up the pieces and start the job search again hard core by not giving up or resorting to our apartment which by then had become my safety net from the rejection, people, and the city. It was there at the apartment I stayed most days where I was convinced I could have comfort, consolation and time to ‘lick my wounds.’ But after the message, I purposed in my heart that for the month of February, I would be on my Pursuit of Happyness hustle again with no more excuses! I planted so many seeds and took the time to focus on networking as opposed to sending tons of applications remotely. This literally meant hitting the ground – not easy in dense cities with public transportation during a rough winter – and it was just as hard of a job.

So by March, I’m expecting to hear back from the seeds I worked almost feverishly to plant in the ground. Well, there was nothing. Crickets. Silence. How can that be Lord? I asked. This time, the trip to the bottom of the hopeless well seemed quicker as if there was a weight strapped on me. I became cynical, apathetic, and eventually, nonchalant. I DON’T CARE ANYMORE! Hey – did you hear that? I really don’t care about a job. I can use my time to get into something I enjoy, which at was starting to become cooking. Based upon a plan Donald and I made, I was still submitting applications to anywhere in and outside of the city – Starbucks, retail, whatever. Nothing came of it, but by that point I could care less. It was no longer a surprise or upsetting when I received one of those automated emails telling me I didn’t get the job, it was just the way things were and it must have been God’s will. Plus I had comfort in the fact that we were still praying and asking God what does He want for us here in Boston. Everyday Donald and I would list out the small victories in Christ we were claiming, expecting, then thanking God for.

I redid my portfolio then had really gotten into cooking and tearing it up in the kitchen (shout out to Martha Stewart) when April rolled around. All of a sudden, that first week of April I got contacted by almost ALL of the previous networking contacts I had made back in February! Again, I was lined up for 4 interviews for administrative support. It wasn’t non-profit, but it was something! And something was better than nothing. I ended up taking a temporary admin position at a medical device company, which turned out to be delightful. But that first week is also when I got contacted by the Executive Director from DMB who previously interviewed me in December. I didn’t know what God was up to, so I wasn’t sure if I could trust it. But God literally handed the position to me! The ED said they wanted me for the job and was not going to interview any others unless I wasn’t interested. I was in fact interested, overjoyed, and overwhelmed by the goodness of the Lord!

So as I mentioned, last week the deal was sealed. I don’t know what’s to come, but I do know that by the end of this trial, my faith and trust in God has been strengthened so much more than I could even imagine. This by far has been the most difficult trial in my life and I’ve been through a lot. God gave me the position so I know that through Him, I am capable and able to see the responsibilities of the job through. Also, throughout this whole time, my husband Donald has been crucial, necessary, and irreplaceable as a loving, doting, understanding encourager. He went through each emotion, devastation, lows/highs, and now victory with me the entire time with such faithfulness. His love and dedication has shown me the love of Christ in him and his servant leadership. As Michelle Obama put it, the trials have made me love him more! I am so glad God put us together. There was definitely a purpose in everything and I am happy to have a wonderful testament to the goodness of God and how much more he is able to do exceeding above all that I could ask or think! All the glory and thanks be to Him.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:2-4

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