Friday, April 30, 2010

Get a Job

Why are so many college graduates working in retail? I know what you're thinking: the economy is bad and these poor kids can't find a job, right? Not true. The people I'm talking about graduated from college years ago and snubbed their noses at entry level jobs. They wasted all that time in college to take a job they are grossly overqualified for but hey, their pride is intact.

First example, Corey, a 40 year old college graduate with 2 master's degrees in music theory and performance. He has been working for Walmart for 5 years. He started working at Walmart because he couldn't find the perfect job in his field. He will readily tell you that he doesn't want to be a teacher or be some one's assistant and do grunt work. These types of jobs were the only ones available when he graduated from college so he started working for Walmart for $7/hr. Now 5 years later he finds himself trying to explain to potential employers why he hasn't had a job in his field as he competes with fresh college graduates half his age who are willing to take any job that comes their way in this tough job market.

Next up is my former college roommate Debbie. She got her bachelor's degree in history and has spent the past 4 years working towards her master's degree. Her dream job is to be a museum curator. She doesn't want to be a teacher either. There are positions at the historical society that amount to data entry and filing but they are in her field. She doesn't want any of these positions. She has been working for Papa Johns for the past 4 years. With her free time she participates in historical reenactments (think renaissance fairs) where she gets to buy her own costumes and pay to attend. With no great jobs out there she is thinking about taking an unpaid internship at a museum and continuing to work at Papa Johns after she graduates this May.

My favorite is my future sister-in-law, Kristen. She is graduating with her bachelor's degree in hospital management and administration next month. She earned her associate degree in a similar field a couple years ago. There are hundreds of jobs out there in the medical field that she is qualified for but she has not applied for any of them. She says she wants to make 6 figures right off the bat. She is depending on her parent's contacts in the industry to get her a cushy job. She works as a part time bartender at a country club. To become a bartender she had to take a $1000 certification course. She also works part time at a furniture store. Luckily her parents and my brother take care of all the bills so she doesn't have to worry about saving any money. With no good prospects on the horizon (in her mind) Kristen has decided to spend the summer applying to graduate schools. My mom jokes that she has no intention of every getting a real job. She thinks Kristen is hoping to get knocked up soon and start her life as a stay at home mom.
She's just going to school to stall for time.

It is amazing to me how full of themselves all these people are. I have a dozen more stories just like these with people who have put themselves on a pedestal but constantly complain about how hard it is to find a job. I didn't like my first engineering job out of college and I sure as hell didn't make a lot of money. But there are no gaps on my resume that I have to explain to employers. I worked my way up from the bottom and was able to achieve a high level position at my previous job after a few years. I used that experience to get the job that I have now; a job that I love with great benefits and a great salary.

When these people picked their majors did they really think they were going to start out at the top of their field? Do they really think that no work experience but tons of degrees are going to make them more marketable to potential employers? There are people who genuinely can't find a job despite having a college degree because the market is so bad right now. I'm not talking about those people. I'm talking about these people who are bitching about not finding a job because they have set their standards too high. I'm talking to you Kristen, future mother of my nieces and nephews.


  1. Couldn't agree more, as a freelance writer and web designer who never took a course in either, doing is sometimes MUCH more important than "learning".

  2. Agreed. Sometimes it seems like "learning" is code for "don't want to work"!