Stuck in a rut and can’t get up, now what?

Written By Patrick Chow

“Will I be able to find something?”
“I just have to keep searching.”
“Am I doing something wrong?”
“ It just wasn’t meant to be, another opportunity will come up..”

These are some of the conversations I had with myself over the 6 months I was unable to find an internship. My story isn’t unique nor glitzy, but it is one about the struggles faced by a new grad entering the job market during a time of extreme uncertainty and difficulties.

Patrick Chow

The statistics show that Canadian students graduating during a recession had an initial income 9% below students who graduated in better economic conditions, which results in those negatively affected taking over 10 years to close the pay gap. For example, Phoebe, a 23 year old fashion graduate from the Class of 2020 applied for over 40 jobs and was faced with constant rejection. This hit a little too close to home, because it brought me right back to April: just having turned 23, suddenly having to complete the final month of my academics online, and dealing with the first wave of a virus we knew very little about. I was feeling anxious about my future and my mind was scattered with a flurry of thoughts:

“How serious is this?”

“How long will this last?”

“Will I be able to have a graduation?”

“I still don’t have a job and summer’s right around the corner, what do I do?”

“How will this affect my family and friends?”

“Will the dance show that I have been training for for months, be cancelled?” 

My plans had suddenly derailed and I was kicking myself for not having tried just a little harder to find an internship. 

In situations like this, when we are feeling unsatisfied with our lives, we tend to compare where we are to where everyone else is, but like T. Rooselvet once said: “Comparison is the thief of joy” and truer words have never been spoken. 

Even though I strongly believe in what T. Roosevelt said, I couldn’t help but feel discouraged when I would see on LinkedIn “Congratulate X on starting a position at…..”, or being asked by friends and family how the job search was going. I knew these posts and questions were completely innocent but they made me wonder if the 50 applications I had sent out were good enough. 

“Maybe I didn’t network enough when I had the opportunity.”

Patrick Chow

Despite feeling like a ball of goop struggling to motivate myself, I was thankful for my wonderful support circle during this difficult time. 

Fortunately, well into the summer, my school created a program that supported students in finding internships. It was directed at students who had their internships cancelled or were not able to secure one due to the pandemic. 

Taking advantage of this opportunity, I hunkered down and fired application after application for 2 straight weeks. To my surprise, I received multiple responses from companies asking to connect over the phone and among them was the Arbutus Search Group, a Vancouver based recruitment agency. 

You know how they say to “be natural” during an interview and make it seem “like just another conversation”? Well, this to me is usually MUCH harder said than done.

However, my first conversation with Joel, the CEO & Founder of Arbutus Search Group, was very friendly and professional…and I got the job! I clearly remember as I was introducing myself that my favorite course was gender and diversity leadership because it highlighted the importance of emotional intelligence in the workforce. Joel and I were immediately able to converse on the topic because of how integral EQ was to his line of work. Recruitment is bridging the gap between people to find them their professional dream job, and what started off as any old ‘tell me about yourself’ phone screen left an imprint on me after wrapping up our phone call. 

This experience, which I am really grateful for, made me realize that staying resilient, positive and learning from the past can lead you to a great place.

I am still a work in progress (which I believe applies to everyone as they move/ progress /navigate through life), but the support Joel and the entire team at Arbutus constantly provide me with is rare.

The quiet struggles that I went through are commonplace, which makes it all the more important to keep the conversation open and push the dialogue forward so that others going through this same struggle can benefit.

On this topic, one of the projects that I’ve been working on with the team at Arbutus is the Arbutus Candidate Training Program. In this comprehensive training package we have put together all the essentials needed to secure your dream job. As we put the finishing touches on this course, I would love for anyone who has gone through a similar situation, or knows someone who has, to take a look. The document I put countless hours into is our first module, and I hope that the foundations in the ‘Resume Building’ chapter will start any of you new grads, career changers, or perfectionists off on the right foot!

If you’ve read this far, thank you. It is beyond appreciated. If there are any takeaways, I want to mention the 10 things I constantly try to remind myself of:

  1. Be conscious and thankful for what you have (friends, family, a place to call home, your health), you’re more blessed than you might think
  2. Break things down into smaller, digestible tasks
  3. Stay humble 
  4. Balance is important (between work and personal life, between relishing the present and planning for the future, between hard work and relaxing, between being realistic and a dreamer, between rushing and taking a breather)
  5. Avoid comparing yourself to others
  6. Let go of things you can’t change, and make efforts now to put yourself on the right path
  7. Try out new things whenever you can
  8. Cherish the good people in your life and reach out to them often
  9. Adapt! Take it in stride when things go wrong – stay focused on what’s within your control
  10. Determine what being ‘happy’ means to you  

Remember, everyone has their own unique journey and there is no correct path in life. There is no such thing as falling behind because there is no set destination. 


Market Research Analyst

Arbutus Search Group

Read more about our Resume Building Course 

Keep Updated with our Mail List