Listening is not always easy. In part because a lot of the time, we don’t want to hear what is being said.

I think of myself as being a good listener. I enjoy attending to people and hearing their stories. And I typically pride myself on my steadfast and unflinching willingness to dive inward and make myself aware of the messy human messiness that is Nina. I like to think that I know myself.

Self-obfuscation, like any form of denial, has a funny way of making you think you’ve got the whole picture, when really, you’ve just punched your own self in the eye so hard that it’s stuck shut, making it so that you can only perceive half of what’s in front of you.

It has become clear to me that I haven’t been seeing myself clearly, not recently and probably not for a long time.

The other week I had a lunch meeting with a friend of mine about a project of his that I am helping out on as a researcher. The project initially started out as a music video and had spiraled into a larger vision that included a graphic novel and animated series. I was going to help him build out the future sci-fi world it all takes place in.

I left my music internship expecting to be gone for an hour and a half at the most. It ended up being a three-hour long meeting full of discussion on character motivations, philosophical underpinnings of the plot, and the creative life.

And it was the most fun I’d had in a long time.

I was struck by my thoughts as I left that meeting: I wish I could do that all the time. I wish there was a way to get paid to do that every day.

It was a moment of clarity. And in recognizing that, I realized how I had been ignoring my instincts for far too long.

“Aha!” moments in my life have had a similar theme. The first one was when I was a junior nearly senior studying abroad in Granada, Spain. The class I enjoyed the most while I was there was Contemporary Spanish Theater. In the last week of the course, one of the playwrights we had read came into class to speak with us about her play and about being a writer.

I left the class in tears at how I much I identified with her, how much I felt like a writer at my core, and how intensely I wanted this new (albeit farfetched) dream of moving back to Granada to live and write there.

The second moment of insight was when I was trying to decide whether or not to go to graduate school in Philosophy. The prospect of going weighed me down, and made me feel trapped. In a thought experiment, I spent five minutes acting as though I were pursuing a further degree in writing to see how that idea felt in my body. It was startling how quickly any tension evaporated; I felt freer and happier.

Combined with this lunch meeting, all the signs pointed to a truth I hadn’t been acknowledging: that I need to give my impulse towards writing a fair chance – otherwise I might be smothering the only dreams I’ve ever known.

I can’t say for sure that I won’t try my hand at it and decide that I would rather do something else with my life. In the meantime, I need to keep my ears and heart open and listen.


Meet Nina, a recent graduate of a liberal arts college, with many passions, interests, and skills…and no job. We invite you to join her (and commiserate) as she struggles wading through the post-graduate swamp world. A creative at heart, and most likely a mermaid in another life, when she is not at the pool, she can be found writing, reviewing music for The Wild Honey Pie and OurVinyl, making art with her friends, goofing around on Photoshop, cooking, or frolicking amongst foliage while dreaming of how to save the planet from destruction by human hands.

I’ve been on the job hunt for a while now. And I’m still not where I want to be. The feeling that has surfaced most continuously throughout this process has been frustration. With my aimlessless, my lack of a larger goal to work towards, comes a frustration that seethes out of every pore and oft infects my days with vexing irritability. I feel like a knight trying to figure out how to get to a castle with no idea of what the castle looks like, no way to spot it out on the horizon, and thus no way to determine the best path towards it.

Beyond this base level aggravation, one of the most stress-inducing parts of the job hunt has been relaxation. Now you might be thinking, “Isn’t that nonsensical?” Well, yes and no.

Right now, my spare time is when I’m not a) at my first internship, b) at my second internship, c) trying to get to said internships in absurd Los Angeles traffic, d) doing work for one after getting home from the other, e) music blogging, f) working on side projects, or g) planning/thinking about other projects I want to start. And for my sanity, I carve out time for rejuvenation: tv watching, cooking, painting, music making, reading, etc.

And between all of that, I still have to look for a job. Needless to say, how I use my spare time has become very important.

I tried searching for jobs in the morning before work, after dinner after work, and at different times during the weekend. I found that job searching before work conflicts with my ability to go on morning walk/ get the green time necessary for a happy and healthy Nina. After work, I rarely have the zeal to look because I’m both tired from work and too preoccupied with other work still to be done. Looking on weekend evenings made me feel somehow more hopeless (likely because I was home on a Saturday night not with my friends but looking for a job). Finally, I found that the mornings were best because the weekend calm coupled with the balm of soft morning light allowed me to feel most hopeful and energetic in my search.

Dedicating time to the job hunt is not easy, especially when it feels like there is always something more I can do – more of myself I can give – to the commitments already in my life. Everything feels important, but in the end, it just feels that way.

I’m trying to retrain my brain not to take on a thousand projects at one time, but to draw attention to those that both help others out the most and feed me and my growth. I’m trying to learn how to prioritize, to give myself smaller to-do lists that are actually accomplishable, and to not beat myself up if I don’t get everything done that I want because I’m human and we only have so much brain capacity and so much time.

Keywords: I’m trying.


Meet Nina, a recent graduate of a liberal arts college, with many passions, interests, and skills…and no job. We invite you to join her (and commiserate) as she struggles wading through the post-graduate swamp world. A creative at heart, and most likely a mermaid in another life, when she is not at the pool, she can be found writing, reviewing music for The Wild Honey Pie and OurVinyl, making art with her friends, goofing around on Photoshop, cooking, or frolicking amongst foliage while dreaming of how to save the planet from destruction by human hands.

Networking events and industry meet-ups are always being recommended to me as the best way to integrate myself into the community I want to be a part of.

Being a shy thing, on top of being introverted, I find the idea of such shindigs terrifying and unappealing. However, I had a moment of feeling brave and was willing to take some risks in the hope of making some new connections. So I decided to journey down to Sassafras, a bar in Hollywood, for an event supposed to help connect those in the baby ranks of the entertainment industry.

As I walked there, straightening my skirt and tucking wisps of hair behind my ears, I tried to amp myself up: “You can do this. Take it step by step, you don’t have to become best buds with everyone in there. Your goal is to talk to one person. You got this. It’s only one person. Once you get into a one-on-one conversation, you’ll be fine. You can handle this.”

I took some deep breaths as the bouncer checked my ID and I stepped inside the dimly lit two-story room.

And in an instant, I was ready to bolt right back out the door.

The place was stuffed to the gills, humming like the drone of an overactive beehive, and people hung together tightly in clusters with little room for new members. Claustrophobic and easily overwhelmed by massive cacophonous sound, I decided the best strategy was to get to the quiet serenity of a hopefully empty bathroom and to make a real strategy from there.

Heart beating with a mixture of fear and embarrassment, I struggled through the crowds taking over the small aisle between the bar and the wall that led to the restrooms. Once there, questions flooded my mind: “How was I supposed to figure out what cluster of people to join? How do I even nudge myself in? Is there a way to do this not awkwardly? Do I get a drink and hope to meet people at the bar that will invite me to follow them back to their cluster? If that doesn’t work, I can’t stand at against the wall by myself with a drink.”

And then I’m back at the start of trying to spark a conversation with a stranger. I quickly realized a major flaw in my plan had been not bringing someone along who could have at least hung back with me while we navigated these high school clique-esque clusters.

Uncomfortable with any other option, I forced myself back through the fissures between shoulders. I would turn my head about in a last ditch effort to maybe catch a friendly eye, but when my gaze was predictably unreturned, I continued my fight through the crowd until I finally reached the refreshingly free air on the outside of the bar.

“Another time,” I said to myself as I walked back to my car that had only been parked for ten to fifteen minutes at the most. “Or maybe never again.”


Meet Nina, a recent graduate of a liberal arts college, with many passions, interests, and skills…and no job. We invite you to join her (and commiserate) as she struggles through the post-graduate swamp world. A creative at heart, and most likely a mermaid in another life, when she is not at the pool, she can be found writing, reviewing music for The Wild Honey Pie and OurVinyl, making art with her friends, goofing around on Photoshop, cooking, or frolicking amongst foliage while dreaming of how to save the planet from destruction by human hands.

My process began, and continues, with questions. I am constantly questioning (myself, life, etc.), so the job-hunting process was bound to be no different.

Not knowing what I want – being attracted to a million different life paths and career options, and not having enough time try them all out – I figured the next best option was to ask someone else what I want.

I decided to turn my perceived notion of the informational interview on its head: instead of it being a time for someone else to get a sense of whether I might be a good fit for their company, I used it as an opportunity to quiz others about whether their job position would be a good fit for me.

I will be completely honest, I still have no idea what an informational interview is or what it is supposed to look like. It remains a mystical fuzzy concept of something theoretically helpful.

I spoke with a screenwriter, a music blog founder, a film and music-making fellow Haverford grad, a television writer, a music supervisor, and a music booker, to name a few. Despite the variety of jobs they had all held, the conversations went roughly the same way. I probed about the job, its particulars, the lifestyle it entailed, and about the path that got them to their job. And in the end, they all said something to the effect of “there is no one path in arts or entertainment.”

I wanted to protest, “You mean you don’t have an answer for me? You mean there is no answer? What?” I wanted to fume, I wanted to angrily gesticulate in usual Italian fashion at the heavens, and stomp away in search of a sage that might appease me.

It only took three or so of these “informational interviews” to realize that this reaction not only wouldn’t get me anywhere, but also was completely ill-founded. My assumptions were problematic in two ways: I wanted the answer and I was relying on others to tell me what I could only figure out myself.

There isn’t an answer that is just hiding from me until I work hard enough to discover it, like pearl tucked inside an intricately folded handkerchief. Unlike the previous 2+ decades of my life, which were guided by schedule and structures that built the path in front of me as I went, from here on out, there are endless possible paths for me to take.

Although I can’t rely on such tests to give me the answer, or even my answer, the interviews weren’t useless. There were tidbits about each job that attracted me to certain options and others that repulsed me, reminding me of the importance of intuition in the whole process.

They also taught me that the job I may want might not exist; I may have to go out there and make it myself.


Meet Nina, a recent graduate of a liberal arts college, with many passions, interests, and skills…and no job. We invite you to join her (and commiserate) as she struggles wading through the post-graduate swamp world. A creative at heart, and most likely a mermaid in another life, when she is not at the pool, she can be found writing, reviewing music for The Wild Honey Pie and OurVinyl, making art with her friends, goofing around on Photoshop, cooking, or frolicking amongst foliage while dreaming of how to save the planet from destruction by human hands.

Hello there!

My name is Nina. I live in the city of dreamers, a city built on ever-growing myths and freeway systems: the crazy town called Los Angeles. I am 23 years old, mostly excited about the world (minus global warming and the possibility of eventual destruction of the earth by human hands), full of passion and creative yearnings, and…jobless.

I majored in English and minored in Philosophy at a small liberal arts college outside Philadelphia called Haverford College. Although my studies are ostensibly less applicable to the market than say a degree in something like sustainable engineering, I made sure to explore options along the way.

I went on an archeological dig, only to discover I didn’t want to be an archeologist. I took a summer course at Oxford University to develop my creative writing skills. Each summer, I delved into my love of theater by helping out at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I tried my hand in the film industry as a production intern. I explored my love of music as an intern at a New York City music label, and have continued to do so by writing for two different music blogs.

Here I am, now six months post grad, and for all my internships and skill building, I am still just as lost. I don’t really know what kind of job I want because my interests pull me in a million different directions, and then on top of that, when I see a job that entices me and brings me closer to an answer, it’s unattainable.

Here I am, metaphorically not literally alongside you as we try to wade through this oft terrifying job market swampland; as we get stuck in the slow moving sludge that always manages to get stuck in our shoes down in between our toes making us unsure of our footing, extra uncomfortable, and giving us serious resting bitch face during this supposedly “oh-so-exciting-figuring-everything-out” stage.

In Nina’s Notes, I will share tidbits and insights as my journey unfolds. Including, but not limited to:
• My tragic failed attempts at networking
• The difficulty of finding time to search for a job while also doing two internships, volunteering, being a research assistant, and writing for two blogs, all the while trying to stay “in the know” and be a person all at the same time (a.k.a. learning how to say “no”)
• Navigating the minefield that is informational interviews
• Developing habits and hobbies that keep me sane
• My clinically unproven method of “resume attacks”
• Persisting in the face of being told “no, no, no”

I invite you to follow along as I essay to build up a life that reflects me and has an impact on the world, and hopefully find a way to support myself along the way!


Meet Nina, a recent graduate of a liberal arts college, with many passions, interests, and skills…and no job. We invite you to join her (and commiserate) as she struggles wading through the post-graduate swamp world. A creative at heart, and most likely a mermaid in another life, when she is not at the pool, she can be found writing, reviewing music for The Wild Honey Pie and OurVinyl, making art with her friends, goofing around on Photoshop, cooking, or frolicking amongst foliage while dreaming of how to save the planet from destruction by human hands.