Choosing a university was easy. Picking a major was even simpler. But trying to figure out where to find a job after graduation and live by the time my lease is up this month, all while maintaining a romantic relationship — was a lot harder.
Because of the job market these days, such is my conundrum. To be fair, it’s not that hard to find a job for everyone. Teachers, according to the 2004-2005 Occupational Handbook, are continuously going to be needed everywhere “as a large number of teachers retire over the next 10 years, particularly at the secondary school level.”
Unfortunately, I have no desire to teach and pursued a degree in mass communications. My fiancÃ© has a master’s in computer science, and although that sounds much more promising than my degree, he had the extra problem of being an international student in a place where some internationals are denied employment. Add to that the catch that most job advertisements ask for people with two to five years of experience, and the question becomes, “How are graduates supposed to attain those ideal jobs if no one will give them a chance?”
Answer: They settle for something less than ideal, especially if there’s a chance they can get into the ideal position later.
This brings me full circle to my conundrum. Those in a relationship know what I’m talking about because they not only have to think about a job offer but also how their boyfriend or girlfriend is going to respond. Single people are freer in that respect — they don’t have to weigh their ambitions against a relationship.
My fiancÃ© and I ran into that problem when, after four or five months of constant searching on his part, he found the only company that wanted to hire him was in Boston. He did all the right things: attended job fairs, talked to people and even did volunteer work. Still, his prospects were few.
I’m not one to restrain someone, especially someone I love. I’d resent it if I had to turn down a successful career opportunity to keep the peace in a relationship. Since I’m job hunting myself, it seemed clear he had to go chase after his dream like I had to chase after mine.
Yes, I wanted to go with him. I hunted online journalism sites to find jobs in Massachusetts. A northern friend even sent me job offers in that area, but after sending out cover letters and resumes, the responses I received came from everywhere but Massachusetts.
Long story short, I stayed in Florida to chase my journalism dream, and he’s in Massachusetts pursuing his — the very definition of a long-distance relationship.
According to Andre Cross, a relationship correspondent for AskMen.com, “There are three options when dealing with a long-distance love affair: The couple can remain faithful to each other; they can date other people and see what happens; or they can call it quits and start dating other people right away.”
My fiancÃ© and I have been together for three years, so we chose to remain faithful to each other. That part was easy. We knew we had to trust each other and work on staying connected, but nothing prepares us for this kind of situation.
Graduating couples may face the same ultimatum. But they should know that the time for discussing such an unpleasant topic is now. Decisions have to be made about the relationship status. If a couple chooses to try a long-distance relationship, how long will they be separated? Are there going to be visits, and if so, for how long?
In our case, my fiancÃ© and I chose to try living in the same place within a year, with weekend visits occurring every month until we’re finally living and working in the same location. But the one regret I have is that we didn’t talk about post-graduation plans soon enough. It was too scary to imagine working miles apart, but it’s a reality that I and many others have to face. Long Distance Relationships: The Complete Guide estimates that “between 2 and 3 million couples in the United States consider themselves ‘long distance,’ not including the hundreds of thousands of military personnel stationed overseas.”
I won’t lie to everyone out there and say making this choice is simple. It’s tough, especially since Monday’s Valentine’s Day, and I was constantly reminded that my loved one is thousands of miles away. But luckily, I have great friends who didn’t let me sit home and feel sorry for myself, and I’ve got a trustworthy guy just a phone call away.
The best thing, however, is that our relationship is stronger than ever because neither of us had to give up our career dreams. It may take some time, but we’ll get those “two to five years of experience” jobs and maybe even live in the same town again.
Sherry Mims is a USF alumna and the former Oracle features editor.