Tag Archives: Underemployment

25 Good Things about Graduating During a Recession

7 Mar

When I first graduated from college, I made a bold decision that temporarily staved the broken dreams of graduating in the midst of a recession — I signed up for Americorps and moved to Louisiana to work in a public school. This experience was not, however, all flowers and songbirds, but I expected it to be difficult and hot and trying. Therefore, when it was hard, it wasn’t as life-shaking, because I expected it.

On the other hand, when I returned to Minnesota to begin my alleged “adult life” through the obtainment of a “real job” and all of that, I felt as though the rug had been pulled right out from under me. So little had I expected the rising costs of living, the reoccurring rejection notices for receptionist positions, the difficulty of finding a sense of use and worth, that I would, for a time, find myself pathetically crying about how sad it was that nobody cared about my degree and why didn’t anyone seem to value my time volunteering?

Many of you, like me, had to face the expectation-bursting reality that we were now working for the same pay as when we were 19 0r 20, except we now had BFAs and BAs and Masters Degrees.

At first I felt deprived and angry about my inability to coast out of college and into the arms of “real job” at a publishing house or some other company. But, in time, I started to realize that I might not even want a so-called “real job” after all.

As it just so happens, that there are a lot of pretty awesome reasons why it’s great to be part of a generation of young people who are doing things differently, whether by choice or not.

25 Reasons Why Graduating During the Recession’s Not So Bad

  1. Imagine how much worse it would’ve been if you had a mortgage
  2. The cheaper your car, the less you have to worry about ruining it
  3. When you don’t dress to impress, there’s less pressure to do well or have answers
  4. You can blame missed calls or connections on your crappy computer/phone
  5. No “terrible bosses” that have you trapped in a contract on a shit salary
  6. Admit it, the food is better at home
  7. No one actually wants to work corporate
  8. You don’t have to do the whole rush hour thing
  9. Naps are back in style
  10. No need for office talk
  11. You don’t have to try and wrap your head around the skyway system (or spend any time in it)
  12. No business casual!
  13. No need for a blackberry
  14. No meetings
  15. You can curse and offend as much as you want
  16. You can denounce the 1% and corporate America without as much hypocrisy
  17. Lower carbon footprint
  18. No team projects
  19. Lowering the bar for younger siblings
  20. More time to be well informed
  21. Probably work with less republicans
  22. No cursing the printer/scanner
  23. You actually get to see the sunlight every once in awhile
  24. Can use the “bad economy” excuse as a catch-all for things you simply wouldn’t want to do anyway. I know the family reunion is this summer, but what with the bad economy, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it…
  25. Instead of pretending to be poor–I see you out there, you hipsters and grease punks and serial-bikers–you can actually be poor. Finally, your inner bourgeois desires have been met!

I hope this list puts a little smile on your underemployed or unemployed or underpaid day.

Life Isn’t All Honey and Doughnuts: Recent Graduates and the Recession

5 Nov


Over the past year or so the reality of this recession of ours has revealed itself to me more and more. In college I was blissfully unaware of the implications of the recession. I would refer to it the same way I would refer to any other pressing social issue that rarely entered my life directly – People in the South don’t recycle – Can you BELIEVE it?!  Because I was in school I was in a stressful yet comfortable bubble where my concerns revolved around paper deadlines and registration for the next semester.

Volunteering with AmeriCorps in Louisiana allowed me to prolong my ignorance of the crap American economy another 10 months.

Needless to say, returning to Minnesota, moving in with my parents, and beginning the job search was a rough slap in the face. And the full extent of this job market still reveals itself in unexpected ways each day.

I’ve had countless conversations about the economy with friends, as have the rest of you no doubt. I find the topic really interesting to attempt to dissect because everyone has a different take on what’s going on, and how it has affected them. What exactly are the effects of this hyper-competitive job market, especially concerning young graduates?

I would say the most common result for young grads has been severe underemployment. Many of my friends are laboring away at jobs that have little to do with their degrees. These jobs are the jobs that we all thought we were done with after college, but which we thank god to have now. Restaurant jobs, retail, administrative positions, seasonal work, odd jobs, tutoring, etc…

The inability to land a “real job” has been attributed to many causes. Some simply blame the dried up job market. Others, however, suggest that our generation has an overly particular expectation for work, and is therefore unwilling to settle for a job that doesn’t dovetail perfectly to personal interests and education.

Despite the stress of it all, there are still some who see the state of the economy as having particular benefits. When unable to find the job they’re looking for, many have worked to create that job for themselves through entrepreneurial endeavors. Yes, necessity is the mother of invention.

As an entrepreneur, I will say that this economy has benefited my professional growth and resulted in me doing things I never would have dreamed of pursuing. But, at the end of the day, I’ll also be the first to admit that I’m not making enough money. Savings accounts, retirement funds, insurance costs, and inevitable small disasters are not within my budget.

I’m grateful to be making enough to get by, and I love the continual learning and flexibility that owning my own business allows, but the life I live is not sustainable in the long term. Perhaps this is something that will change in the future with economic recuperation?

I also understand that my story is only one of millions. How has the tough economy affected your life? What decisions have you made that would have been different if the economy were better?

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