Archives for Economic Anxiety
(Editor’s note: This is the last in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the “real world”.) If you pay attention to the news, you might have heard that the state of Oregon recently approved a plan to pay for the tuition of students who will attend community college and public universities, who will later pay back a portion of it with their future paychecks. As awesome and forward-thinking as this is for Oregon and its aspiring graduates, I was sincerely and selfishly upset when I heard this news. Couldn’t they have come up with this idea before I graduated? I’m now single-handedly responsible for paying back a massive amount of student loan debt, and kids in Oregon will get a tuition-free college education and just pay out a very small amount from their gross income over the course of twenty years after graduating if they find a job. My debt is worth more than I’ll make in years and will hike every day with interest rates going berserk. I’ll be lucky to pay it off before I turn 50.
(Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the “real world”.) I, like so many others before me, am guilty of choosing my post-graduate home because of a boy. My boyfriend has two years left of pharmacy school, so I planned to move to the city his university is in so we could finally stop doing the long-distance thing when he went back in the fall. However, I didn’t expect to get a job immediately after school was over, so I’ve been living in a strange city by myself with no friends for the past two months. FROM COW PLOPS TO POTHOLES I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where the most threatening thing you’ll face in a day are gigantic cow plops and traffic jams caused by slow-moving Amish buggies. This is the first time I have ever truly lived alone, and I just happened to get stuck with a city that has been declared safer than only 15% of cities in America. There are at least nine known members of gangs living within a three-mile radius of my apartment, and a convicted rapist lives one street over. Murders and burglary are considered commonplace events.
(Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the “real world”.) If you’re lucky (or if you majored in something business, math, or science related), you’ll make it through the harrowing process of applying to jobs, not make a fool of yourself or your ancestors during the interview, and actually land your first real job. Against all odds, this even happened to me. Want to know how I got the job I have now? I replied to a post about an internship for a local business and more or less manipulated them into giving me a full-time job.
(Editor’s note: This is the third in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the “real world”.) Just about every single employer has the absolutely ridiculous requirement that “entry-level” applicants must have at least two years of experience in their field. Can someone please tell me how students are supposed to find time to get two years of professional experience in their field while attending college full-time and likely holding down at least one part-time job? Even most internships only last for only a semester or the summer. GOTTA GO TO WORK, GOTTA HAVE A JOB As a result of this two-year bias, many recent grads are then forced to return to the outstretched arms of crappy retail employers – the employers for whom we’ve been working ever since we were teenagers, folding shirts and harassing customers to buy multiple pairs of underwear. When I returned home after graduation and became that underwear-sorting, customer-harassing girl once again, I knew that most of my efforts to get a real job were futile.
(Editor's note: This is the second in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the "real world".) I realized the life I was setting myself up for when I decided to major in Creative Writing. I knew I should have majored in something practical, but the idea of spending an insane amount of money over the course of four years to learn about something I’m not passionate about sounded absurd. So, when I officially declared my major, my professors -- who were supposed to lift me up and send me on my way to become a successful adult -- essentially told me and my fellow creative writers that we’re expected to fail. That barely anyone makes it as a writer. That you have to have the talent, motivation, and charm just for an editor to get off their high horse and glance at you for a second. GOD, WHAT A MESS ON THE LADDER OF SUCCESS And it wasn’t just my professors.
(Editor's note: Summer here. I'll be 30 soon, which is weird. As each year passes, I increasingly lose sight of the college student experience. Yeah -- college. That fantastic place where I developed my anxiety disorder. Three cheers for you. I think current college students and recent grads have a lot more uncertainty on their plates now in this not-so-awesome economy. What if they can't find a job? What if they can't make enough money to pay off their student loans? What if, what if, what if? So, I'd like to introduce Kim Dreese as a guest blogger for the month of July. As a 2013 graduate of a small liberal arts school -- ehrm, perhaps the very one that I myself attended -- Kim is living in the "what if" world. Below is the introduction to her new series about anxiety in the post-college whirlwind of bills, the 9-to-5, and living on her own.) SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE HOLDING DEGREES As soon as I graduated from college, I realized that most of the people I know have been lying to me for my entire life.
Poor Scranton, PA. I think Gawker said it best in their recent headline: "Scranton Is America’s Most Financially F*cked City." Exactly how f*cked, you might ask? Read on. Imagine you're one of Scranton's city workers. Maybe you drive a truck. Maybe you process paperwork in an office. Maybe you fight the very fires that occasionally threaten to burn Scranton to the ground. You've worked long and you've worked hard. You've given your city years of your life and your experience. You've finally made it up to $19 per hour -- a very fair wage for the area -- and you feel good about being able to support yourself, your family and serve the public. [Insert dramatic pause here.] And then, due to a city budget crisis, your mayor lowers your wage to $7.25 per hour until further notice. Your wage, police officers' wages, firefighters' wages, truck driver's wages, and yes -- even his own wage. (You know things are bad when even the city mayor voluntarily decreases his pay to minimum wage.) Yep. Welcome to Scranton. Only a few short minutes from my home town. Can you even imagine the anxiety these city workers must be feeling right now? How will they support themselves and their families? How will they pay their bills?
I woke up this morning to the sound of a text message alert. After getting up and checking my phone, I grabbed my iPod Touch at 7:40 a.m. to check my email, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. (It's habit.) If it weren't for that text message chime, I probably wouldn't have gotten up so early. After all, I'm freshly unemployed. There's no good reason to get up early for work if work no longer exists. No longer is there a gray fabric-covered cubicle with my name on it, with my rolling office chair tucked into its tight confines, waiting for my body (if not my mind) to occupy it at some early hour. I do not yet know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes, I sit back and compare my day-to-day life with the day-to-day life of my parents when they were my age in the 1970's. They didn't wake up to the sound of text messages. They didn't grab a digital device first thing in the morning -- well, maybe they smacked the snooze button on their split-flap display clock on the nightstand, but does that really count? A basic electric clock doesn't deliver any email messages...let alone provide you with a nearly endless stream of social media updates or compelling news stories. Social updates were received via land line telephone. And perhaps from the "Lifestyle" section of the local newspaper. Uncle Jerry is in the hospital. Kathy bought a new pair of boots. So-and-so is engaged. When their electric clocks buzzed, my parents got up and went to work. My father worked in a factory, but earned a good wage and made a fair living. My mother worked as a clerk at a car dealership. We might say that we're lucky to have all this newfangled technology. We have cell -- er, wireless -- phones. We have MP3 players. We have video game consoles that multitask and stream Netflix and play Blu-Ray discs. We have cable boxes that display on-screen menus. We have high-definition televisions. If we define our society by technological advancement, us twentysomethings are winning the game. Right? Aren't we more awash in the luxury of electronics these days than we were in the 1970's?