Love Conquers Job Hunt Blues

Posted by: Francesca Di Meglio on May 6, 2009

With the economy in turmoil, many MBA graduates are finding the job search tough going. To give readers some insight into the strategies they’re pursuing and the difficulties they face, BusinessWeek has recruited four out-of-work MBAs to write about their experiences for a new feature called “The Hunt” that will appear periodically on the Getting In blog. Comments, as always, are welcome.

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By Michael Janger
At the end of June, my fiancée Elise and I will tie the knot and embark on our new life together. We have an exciting honeymoon planned in Italy this summer, and then we plan to raise a family in the not-too-distant future. Before all that, though, there is the small matter of looking for a job.

When American Express(AXP: NYSE) announced last July that it would be severely affected by the subprime and credit crises and was planning major job reductions, alarm bells rang in our heads. Until that moment, we were happily planning our wedding. We had already secured our wedding location, photographer, flower decorator, tent supplier, and many other vendors ahead of time, and we were looking forward to tying up details in the months leading up to our big day. Suddenly, we looked at our budget and realized we were going to have a major issue if my American Express job was going to be eliminated.

We prepared as best we could. I was not certain whether my job would be impacted, but because my role required resources that American Express was targeting for reductions, I had every expectation that I would not have a job in 2009. With all the uncertainty, much of our wedding planning was put on hold.

When I was finally given notice in November, Elise and I had a very long discussion about our marriage plans. We decided ultimately to keep the wedding date, but to cut back on our expenses and reduce the number of people we would invite to our wedding. In a sense, we have gone "recession chic."

Being laid off several months before our wedding day is about the worst timing imaginable. Curiously, history may be repeating itself. In 1931, my grandfather was ready to marry my grandmother in Chicago when, the day before, his bank collapsed and he suddenly lost his entire life savings. Almost without a penny to his name, they went ahead with the wedding the next day, and started their new life in dire financial straits. With the Depression gripping the country, he and his wife assiduously built up their savings by running a grocery store in their working-class North Side neighborhood. What held them together during that time was their love and dedication for each other, and their strong commitment to raising a family. I am sure it was not easy for them, day in and day out.

Today, Elise and I have been overwhelmed with our wedding planning, and I am looking for a job and at the same time working to build a side consulting business, which could potentially bring in a steady new income stream for us if it succeeds. In addition, I am hoping to change my career direction from finance to a potential marketing or product development role. Those are four major "projects" right there – when, ideally, we should be very busy with just one project, our wedding.

It is situations like this where work-life balance becomes very important. Just like in a real job, I need to be mindful of the "life" side of this equation even when I am jobless and looking. It is very easy to become distracted by the need to find a job soon, because of the importance of financial security and a stable career. Still, it is very important for me to treasure and enjoy my time with Elise and get really involved in the wedding planning. This is our big day, and we want to make the most of it.

This will be quite a journey for Elise and me. Because there is a significant recession going on, there is a good chance many of us will not find jobs until 2010. So, locating and growing new sources of income is a very high priority for us. Just as it was a high priority for my grandfather in 1931 as the Depression set in and the unemployment rate rose.

No matter what happens down the road, Elise and I will find strength in, and support from, each other as we strive for a happy and successful life together. In today’s times, there is nowhere to go but up.

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