Burned-out

Mommy Issues

may-choi_online

I really, really, really need a break.

This is probably what every student at Berkeley feels on a daily basis — especially student parents. Imagine not being able to take a nap after a 3-hour midterm, having pulled an all-nighter the day before. Actually, imagine not being able to take a nap, ever — because, for student parents like myself, this is a natural phenomenon. The struggle is real.

I’m taking 15-units this semester — my schedule is packed. Although I love what I’m learning, it’s challenging to keep up with the rigorous course load, which is expected from all college students — no exceptions. These classes are important to future employers when listed on resumes, thus, no matter how stressed, I have to keep up.

Currently, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I have work and lectures from 9am to 6pm. After, I rush home to cook dinner for my family. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I wake up at the crack of dawn and scurry to my 8am class, baton-touching childcare duties with my husband at 3:30pm, who then leaves for school and returns at 9pm. Fridays, I work in the mornings, then focus on homework before picking my child up from daycare at 3pm. As for weekends, with kids, you can’t relax. For me, it’s been 2-and-a-half years since Saturday’s and Sunday’s were a time to chill. Try keeping up with an energizing toddler who loves to go outside and ride his bike all day — it’s tough. All in all, I’m a pretty busy person.

This is my last year at UC Berkeley. And although I have been working my ass off, I have no concrete skills in my field, no outstanding achievements, and definitely, no admirable internship experiences related to my major to put on my resume. I don’t have the means to score a better career after graduation, or the specific skills that would secure an adequate life for me and my family.

So, I’m finally a senior and about to graduate after 6 years of college. It’s the moment that I have been waiting for — but I’m not stoked. I’m scared. I’m terrified because I only have a year left before going out in the real world to get a job and protect my small, innocent son, who depends on me for stability — yet, my resume is lacking.  

Realizing my shortcomings, the summer break of 2018 was spent frantically searching for internships, research assistant positions, community service and shadowing opportunities for the upcoming fall semester. The results were more than disappointing. Don’t get me wrong — there were thousands of opportunities available as a Berkeley student — virtually on Handshake, on campus through career fairs, and through my major advisor who provided off-campus externships. However, there were only a few positions I could consider because of my situation as a mom and student. It was more than frustrating. It felt as though all my long nights studying to achieve good grades, shaking off hugs from my toddler to be on time for class, and heartlessly sending my crying son to daycare every day to make study-time felt useless. Why did I even try to maintain my GPA, when I wasn’t able to compete with other potential job candidates due to lack of experience? Though I quickly changed my mind, for a few minutes, I really wanted to give up even trying to better my resume by finding manageable internships.

My academic schedule has always been rigorous. I have to be 100% dedicated as a student. On top of classes, this fall semester, I was also going to work 10-plus hours due to financial issues — and I couldn’t dedicate another 8 or 15 more hours to other responsibilities. I was a student and already spending much more than 20 hours a week doing house chores and child-rearing. On an average weekday, I am free from responsibilities starting at 9pm (if I completely give up school work). 9pm is the magic time where my kid is asleep and my husband gets home from his classes. But, how many internships are available during those hours? It was nearly impossible for me to find job opportunities that suited my lifestyle.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on edge of the bed, trying to put my baby to bed. I have a lullaby playing on another tab, and I desperately want to sleep with him. I usually get 4-5 hours of sleep on a good day — which hasn’t happened in a while. I can think of at least twenty other things to do besides finishing this column. I have to pick up the toys in the living room, wash the dishes from dinner, do laundry that has been neglected since midterm-week and prep meals for tomorrow. On top of this, I have to do at least 40 pages of reading, write a paper and prepare slides for in-class presentations. And of course, I’m still recovering from pulling all-nighters for midterms last week. I’m completely burned out trying to satisfy the minimum requirements as a student parent.

And yet, my resume is pitifully weak.

May Choi writes the Monday column on being a transfer student-parent. Contact her at [email protected] .