Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket
After working for 15 years with many spouses on H4 and F2 visas, as well as advising spouses whose visas do allow them to work, I cannot stress enough the importance of exploring as many options as you can during your career transition and job search. Time and time again, spouses will come to me saying they have found the perfect company/person/job opening. They spend lots of time and energy crafting their resume and cover letter or introductory email. They scour the internet, getting all of the background information they can, and they just know that the professor/researcher/director has the exact same interests and experiences as they do. They might even come from your country. It would be ideal if they could work for, intern with or do a research project with this person. It’s the perfect fit! They focus all of their energy on that one opportunity. And then they wait!
A lot of time they don’t hear back at all. Or even worse, they move forward slowly, getting an email every couple of weeks, saying that the person doesn’t have time right now or is on vacation or that they are reviewing more resumes or interviewing other candidates. Or maybe the person they want to connect with just isn’t interested. The spouse waits, knowing that it is the perfect opportunity so she needs to be patient. The hiring process drags out, and she can never seem to get in touch with the person she wants to connect with. And then the rejection letter comes or the email saying that the professor doesn’t have any project work available at that time. Now she has to start all over again to find a new opportunity.
Hope is a dangerous drug. Wishing things were different than they are can keep you from exploring new options, thinking creatively about your skills, and connecting with all kinds of people. The American idiom “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” is very true when it comes to career transition. Instead of directing all of your energy and resources to one thing or person, spread your effort. Not every conversation you have or connection you make will be life-changing, but each one will lead you a little closer to your desired goal. You’ll figure out exactly what interest you and what kinds of people are excited by your skills and experiences. When you are pursuing a variety of companies, schools, volunteer opportunities, and networking connections, it doesn’t matter if one doesn’t work out, you will have other things to focus on.
It’s not easy to keep trying in the face of many disappointments. One of the hardest things about the job search is that you never know how close you are to getting hired. Try to approach this career transition with an open mind and heart. Cherish the opportunity to explore new fields and meet new people and to discover something new about yourself. As you have seen in the stories shared on this blog, the uncertainty is uncomfortable and difficult, but the rewards can be great. You may be pleasantly surprised by where you end up.
Jennifer Recklet Tassi, Program Manager, MIT spouses&partners
Jennifer is a member of the Community Wellness team at MIT Medical and she provides direct support to newcomers, internationals, and families who are adjusting to life in a new city. She provides information, referrals, and consultation, while also engaging members to develop and lead programs that help people build connections and community. Jennifer also manages the MIT Language Conversation Exchange and is the site administrator for MIT FamilyNet, an online community for families.