In 2013 I graduated from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations. I had plans. I would pay off a small debt, buy a car, then eventually land, but most importantly I would become a rockstar foreign diplomat or maybe I’d be stuck in a nice cushy office in the UN conducting research on International Trade and. It’s 2016 and I’m no foreign diplomat nor am I employed by the UN. But I’m an entrepreneur.
After sending over 170 applications to countries all across CARICOM for positions that I was over qualified for, qualified for and under qualified for I remained unemployed. I wrote, called and begged organizations such as the OECS for the opportunity to work for free in order to keep myself occupied and to continue to grow my knowledge and experience in the field but my requests were not even acknowledged.
Until recently I was still a bit shaken up about the unexpected turns of life. But I’ve learnt that every season is essential and to be embraced. I’ve since come to recognize that unemployment may have been one of the most fruitful seasons of my life because it gave me the gift of time; time that I used wisely.
Here are a few things I did – a few things which bettered me and prepared me for the opportunities to come; a few things which caused me to come out of unemployment like a champion:
I Read Often
Reading was often my escape. At the start of the journey I loved fiction but as I started to grow and figure out exactly how I was going to get out of the rut that I was stuck in my reading became more streamlined.
I had decided that I would become an entrepreneur and so I focused most of my reading on entrepreneurship and the components which made it what it was. I read approximately 7-10 articles a day on websites such as Entrepreneur, Inc and Fast Company. I also read biographies and autobiographies of the men and women in the game whom I admired. I read as many books on Steve Jobs as I could possibly find simply because he’s my favorite entrepreneur. I also read books on emotional intelligence, leadership and branding and marketing. These readings helped me to get a feel on the various avenues to be explored and this, in turn,helped me determine what I would focus on.
I Learnt To Build Websites
After I decided on entrepreneurship, I had to figure out what exactly I would specialize in. Somewhere in the back of my mind I decided that I would become a branding and marketing expert and that part of the packages that my company would offer would include website design and development. Even though I had never written a line of code in my life, it appealed to my sensibilities. So I opened a Google page on my browser and “googled” a few Web Design and Development Courses.
There were paid and unpaid courses but I eventually settled with a company called Treehouse. Their courses were beautifully streamlined and for someone who had not a clue about what she was doing it was a great start for me.
Click here to try Treehouse for FREE for 14 days. Happy Learning!
One of the things instilled in me from home and church is the importance of service. Many may have benefitted from my service but I was also impacted through serving others. Volunteering gave me an opportunity to get out of the house and to interact with various personalities but it also gave me an eye to see problems and a desire to find solutions for these problems.
I Discovered What I Was Made Of
This wasn’t something that I made happen. It simply happened because of the circumstances surrounding me at the time. When you’re broke and not content with being broke you will dig up gifts and talents that you didn’t know existed in you.
Unemployment pulled out things of me that I didn’t know that I had. I didn’t know that I was as resourceful as I was. I didn’t know how valuable my network was until and I didn’t know that I had the discipline and chops to sit and write a book. I believe that if I was employed the book would eventually come but it wouldn’t come with the swiftness that it did.
I was desperately seeking a way to make money and I saw book sales as the way out. Had I been financially stable I would probably still be waiting for the perfect conditions.
I Did Lots of Free Work
I had studied International Relations and a lot of Economics. Nothing in my courses said that I would be good at strategic branding or building websites. I needed to build a portfolio of work that would allow me to charge for my time and expertise in the future. To accomplish this, I scouted companies that I felt needed my services and I offered them for free. This allowed me to practice my craft and to settle on my signature.
After three years of doing free work, I finally decided that I had come to a place where what I offered was valuable enough to charge for it and I had a beautiful portfolio to prove it.
If you’re unemployed you don’t have to do exactly what I did. There are other things that you can do to fill up your time. You can learn a new language, you can learn to sew, or you can learn to play a musical instrument. This post is for the purpose of saying, if you’ve found yourself unemployed, don’t be discouraged. This could be a season essential to preparation for the things to come in your life.
Tagsentrepreneur entrepreneurship Caribbean work CARICOM Entrepreneur Champions unemployment unemployed preparation discouraged free websites learning Treehouse OECS Caribbean entrepreneurs champion
I love this article in particular, because I can very much relate to it. In college I studied building construction technology I really thought that from there I would have gotten a job in that field so that i can save money to further my studies... however I didn't I was home for a few months until i decided to go volunteer. I volunteered at a media house because at the time it was the best fit for me; being able to write and speak fairly well ... sometime later I became an intern and had an opportunity to earn a little money writing stories for prime time news.
My internship came to an end and I got pregnant and felt like applying as for a job as a pregnant young lady would be even harder because an employer would only envision clinic days, calling in sick and other situations of the sort, allowing him or her to think that my productivity would be low. So for that entire period I was unemployed until now with a baby to care for... thankfully I am supported, however, there is always a stress and uneasiness associated with unemployment, because as young people we want to be independent; and believe me I was at a point where I was literally begging a HR manager to take me on unpaid for a while to prove myself to her.
After sometime, I don't want to say I gave up on finding a job, but after applying for vacancies that I really would have thought I was qualified enough for, but not receiving a call, I just finally told myself, even though I really need this money, the universe is just telling me that this is the time for me to really prepare myself for that great opportunity that is about to come my way.
Big Sean said, ' .... I'm working on myself cause its the most important work even though I don't get paid for it.'
@Edra6 Wow Edra, thanks for sharing your story with us! Have you started your business/company?
@Chadia Mathurin @Edra6 No i haven't as yet I am still in the idea farming phase ... I intend to get into blogging and vlogging and being able to monetize both; therefore i have been doing extensive research, and seeing bloggers such as yourself and Istra Bell has really encouraged me... because especially in the Caribbean telling people that I want to do such a business ... they literally tell me I should look for a real job ... loooolz
This article is similar what happen to me, and I embrace being job less and put my talent to work and now I'm doing something I love full time just steps away to leaving my dreams. Don't let being jobless break you let it build you and make you stronger.
Great article! I can support the points presented by your article. So often we plan, plan and then being unemployeed is not part of the plan. This leaves us baffled about what we can do with the unexpected free time. I was employed consistently for 10.5 years in a single job; then moved to another following which I was unemployed. It was during this time that I started to refocus on my desire to write and have been following up on it eversince.
I am always baffled when people say they are bored while at home during unemployment. As you outlined there are so many things that one can do. We currently live in the information age and as such the ability to learn new things and aquire new skills is at our finger tips.
@Angela StDenis Thank you for sharing this bit of wisdom with us Angela!