September 2, 2011
What You Do When You’re Young, Queer and Poor.

newamuricangospels writes:

When you’re young, queer and poor you make money by busing tables, making coffee or serving food. You can submit to horrors of the American Mall and sell over-priced lotions and clothes made in India…you can sell pot and adderall in gentrified neighborhoods to hipsters with trust funds or you can sell your body to married men down on Broadway or on the East Side across the Mississippi. You can move back home with your parents who want you to stop this faggot shit and take on God and get a good job and a wife…you can have a mental meltdown at 2 A.M. drunk on white wine rambling about the depravity of the capitalist system….you could take on an unpaid internship and hope and pray that it leads to a real paycheck…you could go to graduate school or law school but first you have to pay off a huge student loan to get your college to release a fucking transcript only to take out ANOTHER loan and ANOTHER loan and ANOTHER loan.

I’m 24 and queer and poor. Yesterday, I had 7cents in my bank account.

I graduated from college with a degree in journalism from Mizzou in 2009. When I graduated, I spent the first year out of school constantly applying for jobs. Some were professional-beat reporters for random small town papers across the country, communication management positions at progressive, democratic or LGBTQ related non-profits and campaigns. Others were totally RANDOM-retail sales associate, barista, burrito maker, front desk attendant, stock boy.

Most of the time I never heard anything back from my applications but even in that first year I got several phone and skype interviews for communication and reporter positions across the country. The interviews always went well and I even a couple second and third interviews but the results were always “We’re sorry but we’ve chosen another canidate”…and that was if they decided to even call me back. (I loved it when ”PROFESSIONALS”  would forget to let me know that they had chosen someone else)

I moved back home for a summer but quickly realized that staying there would do more damage than good to my psyche so I decided to move to St. Louis with no money and no job.

Here, I’ve managed to find two jobs that I can honestly say I love. I work part time for an event photography company and I also work for the city’s only LGBTQ publication as their associate editor and as a features writer. The jobs are great but they don’t even come close to giving me a living wage.

I’m constantly broke and falling behind on my loan re-payments. I’m looking for a third job… maybe a serving gig or another retail job. I don’t think I am entitled to a job. I’m not better or more worthy of employment than anyone else. All I want is to make a liveable wage and do what I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid and that is TO WRITE.

Being unemployed in your 20s is hell but I guess the best advice I could give someone is to do what you love and don’t settle for just “A JOB”… ya, you may have to sell some fries to make some coins but if you have a passion don’t forfeit it because your only other option is regret and who the fuck wants that?

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Filed under: about my job submission 
September 1, 2011
I Thought I Could Avoid Unemployment

curiousaleta writes:

I am 24 years old and this is the first time in 8 years that I have been unemployed. When I was 16 I started working part time doing regular after-school babysitting and working at Target. During I worked multiple jobs throughout college in order to earn spending money, and in the summer I participated in various research experiences. When the stock market crashed everyone around me panicked, but I was lucky and was able to line up a prestigious research fellowship several months before graduation. However, in July my fellowship ended and I had not found I job. I am still looking for work and am worried that I will not be able to stay in my current place much longer and that being unemployed will make it hard for me to find a job.

I went to a top-ranked liberal arts college where I double-majored in political science and biology. I got good grades, have lots of demonstrated leadership and have a pretty strong resume. What did I do wrong?

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September 1, 2011
Profiles of Unemployment: What It's Like to Be Jobless in Your 20s

In August, The Atlantic asked readers to share with us the one thing people didn’t understand or appreciate about looking for work. You responded with beautiful, heart-wrenching accounts of the job search. We published you in three pieces: The Unemployed Speak and Advice from Employers, and Longer Voices of the Jobless

Here, we call special attention to the plight of the Millennial Generation. Some of you feel adrift without a college degree. Others went to college and graduate school, only to land in a job market where that degree carries the scarlet letter O for Overqualified. These are your stories.

Tumblr, a lot of these entries came from you. Do you have a story to tell? Submit a post or send a note to our private email account Keep reading and sharing

Filed under: about my job 
August 29, 2011
What You Don’t Know About the Job Search: Responses From the Jobless

nessaaaa writes:

When people recollect moments of job-hunting, they remember their best answers to interviews, the instant they sign the contract, or the glee they felt when the offered salary is higher than their asking. Yes, five months is just a snap of a finger compared to others who wait for years, yet, in those five months, the thing I vividly recall the most is the agony of waiting.

When you look at thousands of available positions in jobsites, it’s hard to imagine why so many people are jobless. However, when you’re the one depending on new ads to appear because you’ve exhausted every job post that you could apply to, it’s hard to imagine why you never get a single invite even when your CV boasts of a reputable school and impressive work background. You don’t think about others anymore - except that they do get the job, they do get their dream company, they do get their desired salary. And you’re there, sitting in front of the computer, wondering where in the world would you get the money to pay for the internet and electricity bill. 

It’s not enough that you feel low because you’re unemployed, you have to be dig your own hole back to the earth’s core so old friends and relatives won’t have to ask you about what you do for a living. You try to cut yourself out from the world because that would also mean not having to make up an imaginary job, an imaginary workplace and imaginary colleagues. Why wouldn’t my turn come any sooner? Friends would tell you it’s going to come your way, that you’re great and someday an employer would see your worth; still - no job is knocking at your door, or even an interview invite waiting by the phone. You feel like you’re ready to do just anything to get out that rut you’re in. 

Nonetheless, after months of moping, you decide to get back up. You pick up the pieces, you cheer yourself up, you tell yourself it’s going to be okay. You know it’s not okay, but what’s the difference anyway? What’s the point of wishing for a magic calendar that’ll tell how long you still have to wait when you know it’s not going to happen? At the end of the day you’re still broke and jobless, but I’m telling you my dear friend, that doesn’t have to be synonymous to being worthless. Sometimes, those horrible days are necessary so you’d realize that having nothing could really make you gain everything.

So I tell you this: just hold on.

Want to share your joblessness story? Send us a note at aboutmyjob1@gmail.comtweet us @TheAtlantic with the tag #AboutMyJob, or submit a post.

August 29, 2011
What You Don’t Know About the Job Search: Responses From the Jobless

liblyx writes:

My Mom told me to look for a job. That was back in the summer of 2008. At first I didn’t take too seriously to it. Applied for a position at a fairground, and didn’t get it because I applied too late. Then, whenever I was prodded, i’d look for work again, and apply anywhere where the answer to “are you guys hiring?” was in any way a yes. How long could it have possibly taken to find work then?

15 months.

In December of 2009, I finally got a call back for an interview, and then sometime later, a call for a position. It was pretty nice finally having some sort of income. It was a tolerable job up until I began college. Liberal arts colleges must have that sort of effect, because once I understood what I was really doing, even as a mere cashier for a wholesale club, it caused a severe clash between what I knew and what I was required to do. I learned the one thing low-level workers we never supposed to: How to critically think.

So, now that I had become a quick-witted thinker who put a dent in profits, I became practically intolerable. However, because I have a specific charm with the customer base, getting rid of me was near impossible, especially since I learned enough to not fall victim to their write-up corrective system that had cost 10-15 cashiers their job for money they didn’t actually lose. Of course, since I didn’t like playing along, it cost me job advancement, led to intimidation by 2-on-1 meetings, and even implications of theft. Its almost difficult to imagine this happening to an 18-year old, isn’t it?  

Teen thinkers entering the job market, beware. 

Want to share your joblessness story? Send us a note at aboutmyjob1@gmail.comtweet us @TheAtlantic with the tag #AboutMyJob, or submit a post.

August 29, 2011
"Probably one of the most disastrous side-effects for the long-term unemployed is the attendant anomie. By and large you begin living outside of society, outside of its rhythms, outside of its collective wisdom. Your futile job hunt begins to highlight the capriciousness with which punishments and rewards are doled out. Progressives pay lip service to the way marginal distinctions can grow into yawning inequalities, but I think in the end its something you can only comprehend fully through lived experience. Each job you are not hired for creates an ever growing gap on your resume and makes it all the more likely that you won’t be hired after your next interview. As these anxieties grow, you become more ambivalent about looking for work because you know that what you should be focused on isn’t searching for a job tomorrow, but erasing the job hunt from yesterday."

What You Don’t Know About the Job Search: Responses From the Jobless

Want to share your joblessness story? Send us a note at aboutmyjob1@gmail.comtweet us @TheAtlantic with the tag #AboutMyJob, or submit a post.

August 17, 2011
What People Don’t Understand About My Job: The Server

Cristie writes:

I am a server at a chain restaurant. There are many things most people don’t understand about my job. I make 3 dollars and some change an hour. My paychecks end up being around $20 for two weeks, after taxes are taken out. I am one year away from graduating with my bachelors, and most of the people I work with are also in college. I have to “tip out” other employees. Three percent of my total sales goes to the bartender and the hosts. Even if a table doesn’t order an alcoholic drink, I still have to pay the bartender. So if you come in and don’t leave me a tip, I have to pay to serve you. If you use a coupon or a gift card, please tip according to the full amount of your bill. Kindness goes much farther than anger does. I didn’t cook your food, and I did everything within my power to ensure it came to your table correctly. However, people occasionally mess up. 

What people don’t see, is that every I’m running around in circles as fast as I can, trying to remember to bring a diet to table 23, extra barbecue sauce to 34, more napkins to 26, and the man at 35 is snapping his fingers at me to get my attention while the baby at 21 is screaming and I’m getting sat at table 33. While I’m sweating and trying to fake a smile for you, please don’t yell at me because a minimum wage employee cooked your steak to medium instead of medium well. We can easily fix that, and no, the cooks won’t mess with your food. Waiting is a fictional movie. 

Also, it won’t kill you to sit at a table instead of a booth. 

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Filed under: about my job submission 
August 5, 2011
What People Don’t Understand About My Job: Barista

thisxcatharsis writes:

Baristas have to deal with people who are rude, hasty, and way too involved with themselves: cleaning out their purses, scolding their children, and “humming” and “hawing” over what they’d like to drink, to notice a ten person line standing behind them. You have been standing in the same line for about a minute or two and have had enough time to figure out what you want, don’t wait until the last minute. There are other people waiting for their turn and you’re just a hairball clogging up the flow. Don’t complain to us about why the sizes are “tall, grande, and venti,” We did not choose to name the sizes; we do not care. If you wish, just say “small, medium, or large,” and we’ll still understand what you mean, we’re not as dumb as you look. We honestly don’t care if you “haven’t had your coffee yet” thus the reason for you acting like a jerk, imagine how much people we’ve dealt with within the last hour saying the same exact thing.

People throw their money at us, yell at us for a five degree temperature difference, steal other people’s drinks, spill their drinks, order insane amount of beverages and expect them to be out to them ASAP. All the while we have still have to smile and thank each and every one of them, work with speed while adhering to our company’s standards: maintaining cleanliness, poise, hold conversations with customers, etc… There are so many horror stories many baristas have had to deal with that two paragraphs won’t do it justice. Working for a coffee shop, an extremely popular one mind you, has made me realize that most people lack any shred of decency or common sense; all they care about is their double tall no foam latte at the end of the line.

I invite other baristas to share their experiences as well. So that people may think twice about how they act as customers to any one in the service industry.

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August 4, 2011
What People Don’t Understand About My Job: Fashion Writer

tinytomato writes

I think many writers fancy themselves to be something wild, creative, passionate - at the very least intelligent, I suppose.  We are an opinionated lot, a bunch of wordy loudmouths with too much to share, not too much to gain.  Let me preface this by saying that I am very fortunate to even have a job, as when I graduated from college I remember thinking a degree in Art History would qualify me to be a snob at parties.  Not to mention that I’m a *writer*, an occupation that is rife with unemployment.  Yes, very lucky.

I am part writer, which is the supposedly creative field in which my brain batters off words that delight and applaud the senses, and part personal assistant, which to this day is basically a position created out of spite for humans (this I am sure of!).  What people don’t understand is that yes, the surroundings are lush! Yes, the people are fabulous! Thank God, YES, the room is air-conditioned! But the constant servitude, the irrelevant, asinine assignments on a whim, and multiple Starbucks visits “for the team” are coupled with snarky, derogatory comments about your aptitude as said human.  I work hours are well over the 24/7 mark, and in return have been told to “pretend that I’m a good writer.”  On paper, the idea of travelling to Paris, Milan, London – ahhh kill me, my 5 year old self just peed in her pants!!  Little does anyone know that you don’t even see the cities – you arrive and hide in various offices, showrooms, and apartments, waiting to be let go, listening to snotty jokes and catty remarks.  You don’t have weekends – there is a Facebook emergency.  You don’t meet friends for happy hour – there is a couture emergency. You have no life whatsoever, you are to only have the life that employs you – which for some, may be tops, but for me – it’s very hard to see the use in waxing poetic on the latest mascara. 

I see the importance of working in politics – it makes a difference.  I see CNN clips of dolphins being trained to work for the military – fascinating developments! I read about starvation in other countries and at home, and what can I do to help!!!  And then… my phone is ringing and I have to rewrite a paragraph on nail polish.  There’s a whole world out there… right?

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Filed under: about my job submission 
August 3, 2011
What People Don’t Understand About My Job: Social Studies Teacher

bbo13 writes:

I am a teacher. And I could easily write volumes about the variety of things about teaching in general that many people (particularly parents and politicians) just don’t seem to understand. For example, those couple of “free” months many (though certainly not all) of us might get in the summertime? Not so free. Many of us (though certainly not all) routinely work above and beyond a 40-hour week during the school year, and spend at least part of our summers in workshops or taking college courses. I promise you, the time off during summer and on holidays earned. With interest. Instead, I choose to focus on what people don’t understand about my job specifically: teaching social studies. 

Whenever I meet someone new, this exchange invariably occurs:

Them: “So, what do you do for a living?”

Me: “I’m a high school teacher. Mainly seniors.”

Them: “Oh, a teacher! Kids that age must be tough/crazy/scary. But at least you get all that time off! What subject do you teach?”

Me: “Social Studies.”

Them (looking like the just took a gulp of past-its-expiration-date warm milk): “I hated history. So boring.”

It never fails. “I hated history.” The rare times I hear any response other than this are when I’m talking to other social studies teachers, or folks who majored in something like history or political science. And the respondents often look at me in a way that seems to indicate they want me to apologize for their lack of interest in the subjects I love. Most times, I smile and nod, or chuckle politely, and the subject quickly changes. But this seems like the ideal arena for me to express the response I want to give these people:

First of all, “history” is not all there is of “social studies”, just like “geometry” is not the only thing in “mathematics.” “Social Studies” encompasses a variety of subjects, from Economics, to Sociology/Psychology, to Government, to Geography, and yes, a variety of specific histories categorized by subject and/or time period. Now, the most frequent complaint about social studies seems to be about the role of memorization—names and dates in particular—and the perceived “irrelevance” of this. While I do not deny that some teachers may take this approach, the good ones incorporate that “irrelevant” memorization as part of the larger lesson; namely, the “who’s” and “why’s” are important to the big picture. Put another way? Context matters. This is not an unimportant life lesson. But math, too, involves a good deal of memorization. As do language courses. But it’s social studies that gets the most grumbles about the practice. Why? Because learning math formulas and the basics of language appear to have practicalapplicable uses. Social studies does not. Right? 

Wrong. Social studies is at least as practical as these other subjects mentioned. Confused/frustrated as to why those people, over there, in some foreign land can’t seem to get it together politically/socially/economically? Social studies can help you understand why! How has their geography influenced where people settled and what they do with their environment? How has their history created the societal and religious conditions in which they live? How might their norms and values help determine what they choose to do? How does the interconnected global economy affect what they can buy or sell or trade? People are a product of their surrounds, physical and otherwise. Social studies can explain that. Heck, maybe you’ll even start to think of them as just people dealing with their own circumstances, just like you and I. Imagine that. Or maybe you’re more focused on a seemingly chaotic domestic scene here at home: frustrated with our politicians, or faltering economy, or muddled moral paths? Understand politics and government, and you’ll begin to see why our system is the way it is. Understand our history, and see how morality and religion have reached the points they have in our society, and why we live where we live and do what we do. Learn about economics, and suddenly the basics behind how America in its post-industrial phase relates to the rest of the world in terms of jobs makes a bit more sense, and how much a loan will cost you when you go car or house shopping will seem more than just a random figure forced on you by a financial institution. You might even be able to figure out what this whole debt-ceiling mess is all about! Social studies is the very definition of practical knowledge. But it’s not passive—it must be actively applied. And that doesn’t happen if you’re choosing to just “get through it” or watching the bastardized Hollywood version of events. Social studies can be as exciting as your favorite movies and as practical as addition and subtraction, but only if you allow it to be. And I, for one, love it.

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