Finances and Fashion

by Lorien E. Menhennett

As a full-time student, I have grown used to living on less, since I am living on loans. Soon, though, that loan money will run out. Which means I will need to re-enter the workforce. That’s not the problem – I have no aversion to working hard (if I did, I would certainly be going into the wrong field!). The problem is the economy. There are fewer jobs out there and more people applying for them. But I have a couple of strategies, which I hope will help me survive the next year and a half.

1. Apply Early, Often, and Broadly
I am looking to work in a research lab for the next year (my so-called “glide” year). School ends in early May, and I’m looking to start working in June (giving me some dedicated MCAT study time), but I’m starting to apply for jobs now. Given that I was laid off several years ago, I am pretty handy with the whole job search thing. So I believe that if a job gets posted online, I will find it. And thus far, I have found around 30 jobs to apply for in the Chicago area, all research lab positions, most at higher education institutions (one at a private hospital lab). I am applying so early because I know how long it can take these institutions to sift through resumes, give interviews, and make decisions. I want to give myself the best shot possible at landing a job before that loan money runs out. I am also applying to a broad range of positions. Sure, a genetics department position would be great, but I’ll take what I can get. As long as it’s a lab job and it pays the bills, I’m willing to do it.

One of the vintage pins I've recently sold from my new Etsy store, FashionRelics.

One of the vintage pins I’ve recently sold from my new Etsy store, FashionRelics.

2. Sell My Stuff
I’m not much of a salesperson, but Internet selling – that I can do. And I actually have quite a few things to sell. I was an avid collector of vintage hats, clothing, and jewelry for many years, and have built up quite a stash of items. None of them are super valuable, but all put together, they’re worth a pretty penny. So I have opened a new shop on called FashionRelics ( I have had fun sifting through my vintage goods, photographing them (thanks to my dear friend Lisa for the dressmaker’s mannequin!), and posting them on Etsy. I just started listing things this last week, and have already sold three items. It’s not much, but it’s a start. And since I’ll likely be moving at some point, no matter where I end up going to medical school, paring down my possessions isn’t such a bad idea, either.

3. Consider Alternative Living Situations
I love my one-bedroom apartment. I hope to be able to stay here during my glide year. But if I don’t get a job by June, I won’t be able to afford it. Thankfully, my wonderful and generous mother has offered to let me move in with her. Granted, it’s not my first choice – I like my space and privacy. Don’t get me wrong – I love my mom, and we get along fantastically. But I’m 30 years old, and moving back in with mom just isn’t the most appealing prospect. But it would save me tons of money, so if that’s the sacrifice I have to make, I’ll make it.

Following a dream as big as this one does require sacrifices – I knew that, and am constantly reminded of it. I am willing to part with some material things, move out of my apartment, and possibly take a job I’m less than thrilled about to make it happen. Because in the long run, it will all be worth it.