Skip to comments.Even a Yale Pedigree Could Leave One Unemployed
Posted on 03/19/2002 6:45:37 AM PST by marshmallow
I worked hard in junior high. I worked harder in high school.
I took home more straight A report cards than any kid in my class. I scored just shy of 1400 on my SATs. I rode horses. I played tennis and basketball. I taught English as a second language.
I had no social life until I was 17. But I got into Yale. Then I worked harder than I ever had.
I was sure the payoff would be a multitude of attractive, not to mention lucrative, job offers upon graduation. Then the bottom dropped out of the economy.
So far, my Yale degree has secured me an e-mail forwarding address and a lifetime of alumni dues notices. Not exactly what I expected.
I was an English major which, for most people, roughly translates into "I have no marketable skills." But that's not so. I have many valuable skills honed during my days with Dickens, my nights with Nabokov, those wee hours with Woolf.
First of all, you know I can read. And I don't mean read like "Hooked on Phonics" read. I can read long, wordy, small printed works with relative speed and what's more, I can remember what I have read and write long, wordy, papers about it without any trouble. I have developed impressive analytical skills. I am trained to think -- really think -- about everything I read. And I am accomplished at putting those thoughts on paper.
So where does that all leave me? Unemployed.
I have taken that Yale degree to marketing firms, publishing companies, advertising agencies, and it has not worked any magic. If I leave the degree behind, I am hired on the spot to wait tables for $10 to $20 an hour depending on tips (and since I have well-developed public relations skills from that internship with the Commission on Human Rights, I will get closer to $20 an hour).
Erase Yale from my past and with little trouble I land a retail position helping rich ladies whose most prized degree is their "Mrs." find handbags to match the only type of investment they know how to make: shoes. Take that degree off my wall and I easily obtain a position at a local Starbucks, serving up nonfat lattes to busy professionals and harried college kids who don't know that the degree they are currently working their butts off for will be worth less than their stainless steel coffee mugs.
So I can earn $0 an hour not working at a marketing firm with my Yale degree, or potentially earn a couple of hundred bucks a night serving up fajitas at Chili's.
I can forfeit a paycheck while not employed with a publishing company, or I can earn seven bucks an hour plus commission folding sweaters at that boutique down the street. I can be broke while the ad agencies keep sending me letters beginning with, "Thank you for submitting your résumé. . . ," but you get the picture.
Will someone please tell me where I went wrong?
Shawna Gale lives in Atlanta
Oh, poor baby. Too hard.
My advice: go out and apprentice yourself to a plumber.
My sister started out teaching school. Burned out after 6 years. Took a non-paying job at an advertising agency for one year. Hired by Disney; soon rose to director of a division called "Disney School House", which sold educational aids for teachers based on Disney characters. Got pregnant with twins. Began working from home as a childrens' book writer. Developed contacts in Hollywood and eventually became a successful screen-writer for childrens' TV, working with Shelly Duval and Jean Stapleton.
Interesting career, eh? Notice she did not feel sorry for herself, explored her potential, and worked hard--ending up doing very well.
Add to that a pompous sense of entitlement. Then add in the resentment others are sure to feel when they see you sneering at making only $20 an hour, whatever the job is, and brushing it off because it's not in your field.
And to top it all off, I'd say writing this article was a really huge mistake. One can have that kind of egotistic attitude and still manage to be employable as long as you can feign humbleness. However, what company is going to want to hire someone who will certainly, thanks to the internet, now have a well-publicized and notorious reputation?
I'd gladly be an NFL quarterback, a Travel Channel correspondent, or a culinary writer for $0 an hour.
I have no sympathy for this whiner. When I think about cops and teachers in my area making $25K a year and doing it gratefully, I wish her a long and miserable career in food services. Maybe in 5 or 10 years she can move up to assistant manager.
Your comment reminds me of my friend's grandfather. He had a civil service type, 9 to 5 job and was moderately happy. At 65 he retired and moved to Florida. Got bored with mowing his own lawn. Started mowing neighbors' lawns. Pretty soon he had to hire a bunch of people because his lawn service was the largest in the area. At 75 he was having the time of his life!
I couldn't agree more. On March 11, I was told that my job position would be eliminated on Friday, April 5, and that I had until then to either find another job within the company, or outside of the company. Either way, on Monday, April 8, my desk will be unoccupied.
Knowing that the job market for computer programmers in this city isn't that great, I was pretty nervous. But within a week, I had secured 2 part time jobs. The pay from them, added to my paycheck from weekend drills with the National Guard, would keep my income level about the same, and still allow me time to search for a job.
Neither one of those jobs was anything even remotely related to the degree I spent years working for. One of them was a warehouse job and the other was working for a janitorial service where I would actually be cleaning the office building I used to work in.
As luck would have it, I actually did find another job, working in a different division in my company, and so I won't be laid off on April 5. I still intend to work the part time job in a warehouse, the hours won't interferre with my full time job, and the money will help pay off my massive student loan debt.
Take away my job if you want to. It won't slow me down. There are plenty of jobs out there that are left unfilled because people think they are too dignified to work them. But it's hard to retain that dignity when your hungry and homeless.
So now, armed with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems degree, I find myself employed as a computer programmer, a forklift driver in a warehouse, and as a medical supply specialist in the National Guard. Hmm, maybe I should take up a paper route.
After a few months of that he went back to school with zeal and now makes more money than you would believe if I told you. He laughs and says he owes it all to that "first job".