Subterranean Job Search Blues

19Feb15

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“What you need to do is open a retirement account and put money in your 401(k).”

I raised my eyebrows. “Find me a full-time job that offers me even a possibility of that, and I’d be more than happy to.”

This happens, so much, when I’m talking to people over the age of fifty. They just don’t seem to get how much the job market has changed. How much jobs have changed. How much less training employers are willing to provide, how much less they’re willing to pay, how much more expensive health insurance is. I know so many people who work more than forty hours a week on a regular basis and still barely get by. And I admit I feel so unprepared for all of it. To change where I am now, I would’ve had to go to a different college when I was 18. I would’ve had to go to a different college completely. And 15 years ago (when I was 18), I didn’t have the wherewithal to make that choice. And even since I was 18, the world has changed so much.

I’ve never had a job that would allow me to make plans, either. Through college I worked at a series of coffee shops, a habit that carried on after college. I worked in a public library as a shelver, but never for more than 20 hours a week. I majored in what I thought would be a practical major in college (audio engineering), but all I could find after that would pay me was a part-time job on the A/V crew at a hotel setting up projectors for clients, most of whom were fine but a few of whom were rich spoiled brats, paying me $15/hr and no benefits. Frustrated and bored, I went back to school for something impractical but more emotionally rewarding: sociology. But before I could graduate, I fell down an emotional hole and couldn’t claw my way out. I slunk back to Denver, tail between my legs, heart crushed, no job, credit card debt, personal debt, and student loans all weighing me down. I’m back to shelving at a library for $10/hr, 40 hours a week. I’ve been applying for jobs to get something better-paying and more interesting for two years now. The transition from college-era, hourly-wage, dead-end jobs to something with benefits and potential and long-term upward mobility and interest is still a mystery to me. I don’t know how people do it. I don’t know how to make it happen for myself. At some point in the last six months, I feel like I passed some invisible line from “still growing and transitioning into what I want to be” to “well, now I’m stuck here,” and feeling like my resume sucks and nobody will ever hire me for anything other than boring, stupid, unchallenging stuff.

I don’t have a good conclusion here or even really any cogent observations here right now. Just…it kind of sucks out there, guys. Hey, job creators? The market you’ve created sucks.

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