• Christian Small

I'm Still Unemployed - My Work Story

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

I just got news that I was turned down from another job opportunity. Turned down in the final stage of the interview process, a week after the company had asked me for my references. It felt like a situation where I should score easily, yet I still got thrown out at home plate.

What went wrong?

It's a tough feeling, and it comes during a challenging time. I've been unemployed for 6 months now.

I left my job with Charles Schwab back in January. My first job out of college, I was ecstatic to be working for a Fortune 500 financial services company, and especially for a company with an outstanding reputation and culture like Schwab's. I was a part of the Financial Consultant Academy, an 18-24 month long rotational program where participants train to become Financial Consultants. It's a killer opportunity for anybody looking to take the highway in the world of finance, and seats you in an opportunity-rich chair that offers you a chance to help clients with their financial futures, while the job itself helps you with yours.

Simply put, it's a job that pays big bucks. A successful first-year FC can easily make upwards of $200,000. Some more tenured FC's approach the 7 figure mark. For a job that only requires a bachelor's degree, it's absolutely insane.

But, you don't get to sit in that chair without putting in the work.

As a participant of the FC Academy, I worked in a call center, where I fielded inbound calls from clients for 10 hours a day. As someone who came in with ZERO financial knowledge, the idea of talking to clients about their money and helping them sort out their problems was extremely intimidating. And after a couple weeks of orientation, I was thrown on the lines to fend for myself and to figure it all out.

Fortunately, I did. But after the first month, I had doubts as to whether or not this was the right career path for me. 'But the money is going to be so good,' I thought. So, I pressed forward.

As the months went by, I was fully locked in, despite the fact that I was starting to wear down. I was making fantastic strides despite my overall level of dissatisfaction with the job, and was recognized as a top performer in the program. I was transforming basic service calls into leads that brought big money into our firm. And after a year, I was given a stock award and named the top representative in our entire call center. It was truly a huge honor.

But despite it all, those early doubts still wallowed in the back of my mind. I was met with constant cognitive dissonance, with internal dissatisfaction and a lack of drive telling me to quit, while external successes and the opinions of others positively reinforced the idea that this was where I was supposed to be, and pushed me to keep going.

Nobody could have guessed what was going on beneath the surface. For a year and a half now, I had walked into work every single day with a smile on my face, with a self-imposed duty to outwork my competition while delivering an exceptional experience to our clientele. I wanted to be the best and wanted to help others succeed, despite my shortcomings from lack of knowledge and ultimately, a lack of interest.

This past January marked month 18 of my 22 month deadline, meaning I was very much in the home stretch of our program. With one rotation remaining before we would move off to the branch, this was the part of the program that my colleagues dreamed of getting to. Each seemed to be thrilled, finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I knew I should've been excited too. But I wasn't.

At this point, my anxiety had reached an all-time high. I no longer had the motivation to make it into work anymore, and I felt my performance start to dwindle. My tank had run completely dry. I was nervous about my future, and knew deep down that those early, dubious thoughts had manifested themselves into physical reactions as the next step in my career was becoming more of a reality.

For me, it was no longer about the money, and no longer about the fact that I had a chance to be successful at the job down the line. I just wanted that inner peace. I wanted to reach down deep, find myself, and discover the path that was meant for me.

Many of you would say, 'Okay, so quit. Go find yourself a new job, and quit.' A minor issue on the surface, but when your uncle also holds a prominent position with the company, the idea of quitting cold turkey becomes a much harder pill to swallow. Couple that with the fact that everyone and their mother is telling you that you're going to be a successful Financial Consultant while your actions reinforce their sentiments, and it creates an entangled situation that requires scissors to get out.

The question then becomes whether you decide to use them or not.

I did.

I quit my job in January without having any opportunity lined up. Admittedly, leaving without another job was a mistake that the global pandemic has since exposed mightily. But ultimately, stepping away and trusting my gut has been the greatest decision I could make for my mental health, and for self-discovery.

Since leaving, I've discovered my passion for digital marketing, and desire to work in a role that allows me to flex the creative muscle that is a part of who I am. Since leaving, I've been forced to be resourceful, and have sought out opportunities to make money while reinforcing a stream of passive income that has helped to support my rent payments. And since leaving, I've created Unbreakable, the community that I'm so thankful you are now a part of, and the podcast that I hope will change lives for the better.

Getting yet another rejection email today was difficult. My wallet is hurting, and this likely means I'll be taking any job I can get my hands on in the near future. But from it spawns another lesson, and a new path. And in my heart, I know this path is the right one, and I am learning to take these losses in stride in hopes that yet another opportunity will sprout from a step in a different direction.

So what went wrong today? I'm not entirely sure. But what I do know is that if I continue to seek out opportunities, work hard, and be authentically myself, I will eventually find a job.

In the meantime, I've already started to find myself.

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