To Ink Or Not To Ink? Things I Considered Before Getting A Tattoo During Job Hunt Season

To Ink Or Not To Ink? Things I Considered Before Getting A Tattoo During Job Hunt Season

Some people hate them, others admire them. Some have them as a way to express themselves, to showcase their creativity, or even to protest. Many people, myself included, see them as sort of a therapeutic tool that helps the bearer cope with things such as PTSD, physical illness or even a tragic loss. Regardless of what your stance is in the matter, tattoos have become more than just a rebellious act or means of expressionthey have become a cultural norm.

Being in graduate school and even before I got here, I gave some serious thought to whether I’d get one that was in plain sight. I wasn’t just worried about how people would treat me after getting ink on my skin; I also worried about how that would affect me at the moment of job hunting and internship applications. Since we’re finally in that time of year where every Newhouse grad is freaking out about internships, and because I’m religiously watching Ink Master season 10 on Paramount Network, previously Spike TV (#TeamJuanSalgado all the way, bring that $100K home to help our people!), I figured this was the best time to tackle this particular subject.

Ink Master cast
Team Anthony on Ink Master, Juan is the first from left to right. I low key have a crush on Daniel Silva (sixth in that order)

I’m a strong advocate of thinking before you ink. First and foremost: why do you want to get a tattoo? Thinking back to my first, I had a scar on my left forearm from an altercation with a relative in 2015 which resulted in a long lasting depressive state and constant panic attacks. Every time I looked down and saw the scar, I got flashbacks of everything that happened that night that just wouldn’t go away. I figured I’d try and use cocoa butter or other products to clear it up, but it’d still bring back all the memories.

That semester I was taking a multimedia journalism class in my alma mater, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in San Juan, as well as an investigative journalism class, both required for my Journalism degree. I was desperate for a solution to my problem and I’d heard stories of people overcoming depression after getting tattooed. This resulted in me producing a podcast on the subject for multimedia journalism, which I later on submitted as one of my samples for my Audio Arts application, as well as an investigative series on how tattoos were being used as a therapeutic method. I got interviews from people who have been discriminated against in their work environment, people who hadn’t been discriminated against by employers yet were ostracized or offended by clients, some who were in favor, some who were against, and even some like piercing artist Francisco De Leon back when he was a part of Salgado’s team over at Color Conspiracy Tattoo Gallery at Calle Loíza in Puerto Rico.

There was a lot of mixed opinions, especially amongst those with ink-less skin, while those that were previously inked seemed to favor them, as expected. However, the answers I was seeking while I did get some more detailed stories about people overcoming adversity through the art, I shortly realized would not come from any of them, but from myself.

Getting tattooed
Spoiler Alert: I got it done. I may seem calm but I’m freaking out inside.

It was always a personal journey; was I willing to go through the process come what may? What about my future dream job? Would they accept me, ink and all? What will my options be if they don’t? Will this really help me heal? Will my ideology be jeopardized? What will my grandparents say?

Laser removal was completely out of the question. It’s expensive, it’s painful (even more so than getting the tattoo in the first place), and it defeats the purpose.  For the most part, long sleeves will do the trick if an employer doesn’t approve of them being visible, and if you’re outdoors, there’s always coverup makeup or even sports bands depending on your work setting, just be sure you talk things over with them first so you don’t appear deceitful, and who knows? You might not even have to hide your ink while on the job since most workplaces are tattoo-friendly nowadays! Still, do your research on the company you’re applying to so you know what to expect.

As far as ideologies go, I’ve always tried to get to know someone before I form an opinion of them, so judging a book by its cover has never been my thing. Getting a tattoo, or twenty, was not going to change me. Concerning my family? I’ve always had a pretty decent blend of liberal and conservative relatives in my ranks, but who I was worried about the most was my grandmother.

I’ve always felt like she expects great things from me and she’s a very traditional “goes to church every Sunday and expects the whole family to visit the house right after” hispanic grandma, you know, one of those that will shamelessly throw the chancla if you do something wrong. Since I have apparently always done things right in her eyes, I was always terrified of disappointing her at some point and I worried that this could be what did it. I actually went to her crying the day before my appointment and my mom was the one who broke the news, to which she responded “Ay mi amor, don’t you know that you could never disappoint me, not even if you tried?”

Graduation with brother and grandma
Baby Brother, grandma and yours truly. Trust me when I say she does not need the chancla to intimidate you.

Now that I knew my grandma wouldn’t stop loving me, I decided to go all in and face whatever consequences I’d face afterwards. It’s been two years since that first one. It covers about 60% of the upper side of my forearm and I haven’t had flashback-induced panic attacks since. It’s not any random design either; it’s a made up rune from a book series I’ve loved for years, and it symbolizes how at times I feel like I’m too weak or fearful to overcome adversity but I eventually find the way to succeed using my inner courage. Since then I’ve gotten two more, all book related, all having a deeper personal meaning. One is a dedication to my mom after being a domestic violence survivor, one is a colorful, dachshund shaped patronus in honor of my pup who’s a senior now and was in no shape to move overseas from sunny PR to snowy upstate NY.

All in all, you need to be truthful with yourself and figure out if you’re willing to handle what could come along with your decision, in your professional and your personal life. I went for it and I haven’t regretted it since, but that’s my story. I can’t speak for others without tangible proof. It can be something beautiful, but it could also be a beautiful curse, it all depends on what you make of it, so make the best of it!

Do you have any tattoo related stories? Feel free to share them below!

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Monica Gonzalez
Mónica González is a Master's student from the Audio Arts program at Syracuse University. Born and raised in sunny Puerto Rico, she relocated to snowy Syracuse New York to make her professional dreams a reality. Her background in Journalism and Television production are what drive her to pursue the truth, and her knack for storytelling is what motivated her to bring compelling stories to the Newhouse Insider. In the past, she's been published by companies within the literary industry in Puerto Rico, and her content has been sponsored by Major publishers such as Harper Collins International. In the future, she dreams of combining her love for books and Broadway by producing literary adaptations for musical theater. Remember her name, and don't be shocked when a Playbill page mentions her.