Life in Limbo

I left graduate school with a master’s degree, headed for corporate America, but the environment was cutthroat, so I quit. I became an adjunct at a local college which led to a full-time position. With no pay increase since I started, I am up for a promotion that’ll increase my pay by only $1.16 per hour. I have applied for other jobs, but to no avail. I am educated, underemployed, frustrated and stuck! What can I do?
– E. A., Washington, DC

You’re absolutely right. You are stuck — mentally. Choosing to retreat from corporate America is fine, but you are now in academia and have essentially given up on that too. Nevertheless, weigh your options about the promotion; it may offer you leverage in getting the opportunity you really want.

If you are willing to give the corporate world another go, I recommend looking at our “40 Best Companies for Diversity” (July 2007) for suggestions on companies to target. You may also want to seek the advice of a business and/or life coach; have them evaluate you to see if you are truly ready to move forward.

If you don’t already have at least one mentor, get one. Read our feature “Time Out” (March 2007) for advice on re-entering the corporate work environment. Also, check out the books Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel (Business Plus; $19.95) and Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits by T.D. Jakes (Atria Books; $24) (see “Words to Strive By” in this issue for more).

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