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Perhaps that should read "enter the ranks of the unemployed"
May 17, 2012 12:12 PM   Subscribe

A 29-year-old on the difficulties of landing a first job.
posted by onwords (217 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
He and his wife did at one point own a rather nice place. His wife still does, but with the guy she's with now that her lawyers are finally done with my friend through the divorce process.

I am sure the misogyny will help that job search!
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


And of course a series of comments talking about how "the author is too proud to work a menial job and live with their parents". No doubt these same people, when reading a blog from someone who DOES work a menial job and live with their parents, would be commenting that "they need to move out and get a real job."

It was ever thus.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2012 [60 favorites]


At the age of 29, I've likely forever lost the following opportunities due to cost and probable inability to make up for lost wages and career potential:
- Getting married.
- Having children.
- Owning a home that's bigger than 500 square feet. (hint: that's not big.)
- Studying any more, whether that means grad school, law school, or even just night classes at a random community college.
- Retirement. Sure, I'd love to be investing for it. But with what money?


Poor people can't even get married now? I had no idea society had degenerated so far!
posted by jacalata at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2012 [27 favorites]



And of course a series of comments talking about how "the author is too proud to work a menial job and live with their parents". No doubt these same people, when reading a blog from someone who DOES work a menial job and live with their parents, would be commenting that "they need to move out and get a real job."

It was ever thus.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:20 PM on May 17 [+] [!]



Meanwhile in Canada, we're changing EI law to force people back to work in lower paying jobs outside of their industry.

Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty hinted Monday that changes to the definitions of suitable employment may be around the corner. 'There is no bad job,' he said.

I think that anyone that contends that any job is a good job should have to actually work some of these jobs.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:27 PM on May 17, 2012 [36 favorites]


There is something about being in one's 20s that seems to make most people think (judging by askme, and also my own 20s) that any terrible thing that happens means the Life Is Over and It's Too Late to...change, or go after what you wanted, or whatever.

I'm now in my 40s and I can report that my life did not end when several really crappy things happened in my 20s. All kinds of things I couldn't have and didn't imagine happened; my life has gone on and it's pretty damn awesome.
posted by rtha at 12:29 PM on May 17, 2012 [114 favorites]


Making $36 000/ year is a lot more bearable when you start with 3 weeks/year, the office has a bouldering room and a bar, you can bring your dog to work (just kidding! You can't afford a dog), you get gear you need to do what you love for next to nothing, and you've got time to go out and enjoy the sports you love. I'll never own a condo in a ski town, but at least I'll be able to make day trips, right?

When I decided to quit programming and restarted my career from scratch, I had to do customer service for a while and my starting salary was even less. (Actually, it was $35k.) Sure, it sucked, but I worked, got raises, focused on building my resume, and eventually used that job as a stepping stone for a better one. I never felt like I was entitled to a condo in a ski town, or a large salary just out of college. When you graduate, you eat shit for a few years as an underpaid serf, get the skills you need to advance, and move on - it's not pretty, but that's the way life works. The CEO's kid has always benefitted from nepotism - this is not something new that only the current batch of graduates had to deal with.

Honestly, to me this is rather heartwarming. Seeing entitled kids who think they'll get whatever they want right out of college get slapped in face with a dose of reality? I can totally get behind that.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:32 PM on May 17, 2012 [24 favorites]


Making $36 000/ year is a lot more bearable when you start with 3 weeks/year, the office has a bouldering room and a bar, you can bring your dog to work (just kidding!)

Is 36,000 a decent salary in Canada for a first "real job" out of college?
posted by madajb at 12:33 PM on May 17, 2012


And of course a series of comments talking about how "the author is too proud to work a menial job and live with their parents".

TFA points out that most people who need menial workers are reluctant to hire him because they feel he'll leave as soon as something more amenable comes along.

When I was in high school one of my teachers told the class that, in the last bad economy, he'd been turned away from an oilfield job; suspecting that this was the reason he re-applied but left his college degree off the resume, and he was hired.
posted by localroger at 12:34 PM on May 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


At the age of 29, I've likely forever lost the following opportunities due to cost and probable inability to make up for lost wages and career potential

Within the last month, he has interviewed for two good jobs that he says he's well-suited for. He has followed up but hasn't gotten any definitive answer yet from them -- neither an offer nor a rejection. He's now concluded that he will never be able to do anything he wants to in life. It sounds like in addition to the job searching and networking, he could use some therapy.
posted by John Cohen at 12:35 PM on May 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


The writer is, I don't know, kind of an ass. On the final - the very last! - page of this rant, he mentions this:

I wanted 65 hour weeks in a high pressure corporate environment. I wanted the tailored suits, the chance at a high income, the BMW, the prestige, the respect, and the power. I wanted to be someone.

Not quite the same as just wanting a decent job.

Dumb article.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:36 PM on May 17, 2012 [37 favorites]


I finished up at university at about the same time that Lehman Bros. went under, after having seen the very obvious warning signs at Bear Stearns et al. Admittedly, this wasn't great timing, but I thought that with a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and a bit of luck, things would work out alright...

I wanted 65 hour weeks in a high pressure corporate environment. I wanted the tailored suits, the chance at a high income, the BMW, the prestige, the respect, and the power. I wanted to be someone.

I am in this horrible state of conflict where everything human and decent in me stands opposed to blaming the victim, but everything human and decent in me stands opposed to people whose sole goal in life is to be a power broker at the financial institutions that are ruining the world.
posted by Shepherd at 12:37 PM on May 17, 2012 [60 favorites]


At the age of 29, I've likely forever lost the following opportunities due to cost and probable inability to make up for lost wages and career potential:

- Getting married.
- Having children.
- Owning a home that's bigger than 500 square feet. (hint: that's not big.)
- Studying any more, whether that means grad school, law school, or even just night classes at a random community college.
- Retirement. Sure, I'd love to be investing for it. But with what money?


Another vote for 'twas ever thus. Or 'twas thus at least since the '80s when the Reagan/Thatcher/Mulroney nexus mortgaged the English-speaking world's collective future for one last generation of fragile prosperity. If you'd ask 29-year-old me, a GenXer who graduated into the pit of the last recession (ca. 1996, and it hit much harder in Canada than in the US), barely scraping by on freelance scraps in Toronto, I'd have argued I'd never do four of these five things and didn't want the fifth (no interest in more academia, thanks).

Fast forward nine years. Wife, kids, mortgage. Still not sure the retirement thing'll ever come, but all our (v. modest) long-term savings are in RESPs right now.

So yeah: At 29, you're nowhere near as good as you think you are at imagining yourself pushing 40.
posted by gompa at 12:37 PM on May 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


Is 36,000 a decent salary in Canada for a first "real job" out of college?

I don't know, since I'm not Canadian. But I do know that your income when you're in your 20s is very often lower than your salary later in life.
posted by John Cohen at 12:37 PM on May 17, 2012


It's far from what I wanted. I wanted 65 hour weeks in a high pressure corporate environment. I wanted the tailored suits, the chance at a high income, the BMW, the prestige, the respect, and the power. I wanted to be someone.

I'd add something, but...it kind of speaks for itself.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:38 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


$36,000 a year?? I'd wet my pants if I were offered that much. I'm currently making about $13,000/year after tax in a job that I have about 5 years experience in. I feel like I could almost buy the world with 36k!
posted by hasna at 12:38 PM on May 17, 2012 [61 favorites]


Thank you dude for writing an article that was pulled from every stereotype about contemporary young adults ever, you are really doing the rest of us a service.
posted by schroedinger at 12:39 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


God, just reading the comments in the MetaFilter thread is driving me crazy, so I will say it again: the writer of this article is essentially lamenting he failed to become main character of American Psycho. The article has nothing to do with youth unemployment. Nothing at all! Argh!
posted by KokuRyu at 12:39 PM on May 17, 2012 [40 favorites]


It's far from what I wanted. I wanted 65 hour weeks in a high pressure corporate environment. I wanted the tailored suits, the chance at a high income, the BMW, the prestige, the respect, and the power. I wanted to be someone.

Even if you are the shiniest cog in the wheel, you're still a cog.
posted by perhapses at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


There is something about being in one's 20s that seems to make most people think (judging by askme, and also my own 20s) that any terrible thing that happens means the Life Is Over and It's Too Late to...change, or go after what you wanted, or whatever.

Yeah, I'm 28 and I'm just realizing that I don't have to "make it" by thirty. I think one factor is that people in their 20s are just starting to feel their own mortality.
posted by muddgirl at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


"I wanted 65 hour weeks in a high pressure corporate environment. I wanted the tailored suits, the chance at a high income, the BMW, the prestige, the respect, and the power. I wanted to be someone. "

Even if all these elements of his Gordon Gecko fantasy did actually add up to "being someone" how quickly did he expect for these things to happen? This reminds me of the woman in this thread who quit her apprenticeship with a chocolatier after four months because she had to, like, do work and stuff.
posted by usonian at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is something about being in one's 20s that seems to make most people think (judging by askme, and also my own 20s) that any terrible thing that happens means the Life Is Over and It's Too Late to...change, or go after what you wanted, or whatever.

www.google.ca/search?q=long+term+effects+impact+of+youth+unemployment

"About 3,170,000 results."

Some choice quotes from the first few results:
We also find evidence of persistence in unemployment. Combining our semiparametric estimates with a dynamic approximation to the lifecycle, we find that unemployment experienced as long ago as ten years continues to affect earnings adversely despite the catch-up response.
and
Youth unemployment, in particular long - term youth unemployment, can generate frustration and low self-esteem, and can lead to increased vulnerability among some young people to drugs, disease and crime.

Youth unemployment can also lead to the marginalization and exclusion of young people. There is evidence that unemployment can expose youth to greater risks of lower future wages, repeated periods of unemployment, longer unemployment spells as adults, and income poverty. [...] Youth unemployment can impose large economic costs on society.
and
Young people have always had a tough time finding work. Historically, the unemployment rate for those ages 15 to 24 in advanced economies has been two to three times higher than for older age groups. But since the global crisis began in 2008, young people have suffered a much sharper rise in joblessness than older workers, and structural issues—especially in Europe—have exacerbated youth employment problems.

Unemployment can exact a big personal toll on young people. Failure to find a first job or keep it for long can have damaging long-term consequences on their lives and career prospects. But youth unemployment also has broader social consequences and contributes significantly to growing income inequality in advanced economies.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Every piece of available information on the subject confirms that when people in their 20s think that being unemployed for a long time is a terrible thing with long-term consequences, they are exactly right about that.
posted by mhoye at 12:41 PM on May 17, 2012 [40 favorites]


When you graduate, you eat shit for a few years as an underpaid serf, get the skills you need to advance, and move on - it's not pretty, but that's the way life works.

For a lot of people right now in the US at least it's nearly impossible to get a full time entry level position in their own field when graduating from college though. There are too many unemployed people that already have skills who are willing to work in those positions, so they get hired rather than someone who needs training. The jobs that do exist are mainly temp jobs with no benefits and often don't involve the kinds of skills that can lead to full-time higher paying jobs.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:41 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't think he came off as entitled. It sounds like he desperately wants to "eat shit for a few years as an underpaid serf,...advance and, and move on" but he doesn't even have that chance.

Maybe it's because I can identify with that. His description of his job search was my experience exactly. I couldn't get hired at a shit job because they thought I was over qualified and I couldn't get an entry level corporate job because I had no experience. All I needed was a chance to prove myself. I knew that if I got that chance, I'd be able to work harder and smarter than everyone else and be successful (however, my definition of success is very different from his) but it took a very long time before I finally got that chance.

He doesn't want to be handed "the tailored suits, the chance at a high income, the BMW, the prestige, the respect, and the power." He just wants the opportunity to earn it.
posted by VTX at 12:43 PM on May 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


Thank you dude for writing an article that was pulled from every stereotype about contemporary young adults ever, you are really doing the rest of us a service.

The Globe and Mail is terrible for this, with frequent articles exclaiming that the Boomers are ruining it for the Millennials, and that the Millennials are a bunch of lazy, egotistical whiners. It's just an attempt to manufacture some sort of story that has no
bearing on reality.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:43 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


everything human and decent in me stands opposed to blaming the victim

Why? Why is it always bad to "blame the victim"? Very often, someone is the victim of outside circumstances, but also has some responsibility for their situation. These aren't mutually exclusive. Your job search is hard because of factors outside your control, but you also do have some control over how it turns out (you can apply to more or less jobs, make better or worse choices about where to apply, give a better or worse performance in job interviews, etc.). When we're talking about something as complex as a job search, why should we label some people as "victims" who have no control or responsibility?
posted by John Cohen at 12:43 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


mhoye, it's not that we doubt that there are long term effects of youth unemployment. It's that it's ridiculous for him to suggest because he doesn't have a job at 29 he'll never be able to get married, have children or own a home.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 12:43 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could it be that this is just what happens when you wait until age 29 to land a first job?

I wouldn't know, I was out there pounding pavement at 21. It wasn't easy working up from the bottom, but by 29, I had a career.
posted by 27 at 12:44 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


My first full time job out of college was $20k/year. They forced me to quit my second job a few months in when they found out about it. Then they laid me off a few months after that. People complaining about $36k/year feels a bit like the whole 'I cut $1,300/month from my entertainment budget!' to me. But it's hard not to sympathize with someone who's almost thirty and despite great effort doesn't have the start of a career yet, hasn't started feeling stable in her life and finances yet. I mean, I know that most people don't start saving for retirement until later, but it's scary going into your thirties knowing that you've just started in a new industry, in a new entry level job, just like you did 5 years ago and you have no reason to think it will go better this time.
posted by Garm at 12:44 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Poor people can't even get married now? I had no idea society had degenerated so far!

Something like that


It's note really a new thing though, "Gosh, Mary-Ann imma marry you once I save some money so we can afford a place" is a trope from lots of old stories.
posted by Winnemac at 12:44 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd add something, but...it kind of speaks for itself.

I think it's unfair to conflate the fact that this particular young man essentially wanted to be a rich douchebag with the broader and entirely correct point he's making that young people are statistically, overall, getting a really raw deal right now.
posted by mhoye at 12:44 PM on May 17, 2012


Yeah, I'm 28 and I'm just realizing that I don't have to "make it" by thirty.

The beauty of your 30's is the realization that everyone is just making it up as they go along, the best they can.
posted by smirkette at 12:45 PM on May 17, 2012 [30 favorites]


At 29 I was working as a technical support engineer at a large corporation. It paid quite well, but wreaked havoc on my personal well-being. I worked there for almost 7 years before quitting (I would have quit a year earlier, but the folks in human resources managed to talk me out of it).

These days I work for a little less money at a small company (5 full-time employees counting myself) as a software engineer at the age of 36. Every time I start missing the money, I just think to myself, "Yeah, but I was *miserable* during my time at the big company. I'm happy *now*!"

The thing I believe this guy is losing sight of (and I think this has been mentioned already) is that life in your 20s is not necessarily going to be the best life you have. When I was that age I also worried about getting too old to change or work at a better career. I'm happy to report that I couldn't have been more wrong about myself. :^)
posted by surazal at 12:46 PM on May 17, 2012


I could go on, but you get the idea. Every piece of available information on the subject confirms that when people in their 20s think that being unemployed for a long time is a terrible thing with long-term consequences, they are exactly right about that.

This guy isn't unemployed though. This guy just isn't working a high-powered financier wet dream and is under the impression that if he can't make $500,000 a year and drive a Beemer marriage, children, and a future are completely impossible. Meanwhile he's complaining about working at a job that gives three weeks vacation, a rock-climbing wall, and cheap ski gear.

I am a "Millenial" or whatever, I like to think that his complaints are less about the plight of Millenials and more about being a douchebag who finds himself unable to fulfill his douchebag fantasies.
posted by schroedinger at 12:46 PM on May 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


Life very rarely lives up to the hype and no plans for the future are guaranteed. If he really is the hard charging go-getter who wants a 60 hour week, a little set back like a recession won't be a huge hurdle. As for "being someone", you either are or you aren't, the job has nothing to do with it.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:47 PM on May 17, 2012


I really don't understand this part:

Exactly one of my friends has "made it," so to speak. He's on partner-track at one of the big accounting firms. Sounds good, right? It is, except for a few minor issues. First, the likelihood of ever reaching partner is so slim that it's essentially non-existent. Second, the hours have nearly killed him. His average workweek is 65-70 hours. Average. It's higher some weeks, topping off at nearly 90 hours/week.

He spends the entire letter complaining about the fact that he's been deprived exactly this, but then goes on to complain on behalf of his buddy about the downside of the very prestigious-corporate-drone lifestyle he covets. What is it exactly that he does want???
posted by hot soup at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is 36,000 a decent salary in Canada for a first "real job" out of college?

That was my starting salary out of university. In 1996.
posted by bonehead at 12:49 PM on May 17, 2012


I don't think he came off as entitled. It sounds like he desperately wants to "eat shit for a few years as an underpaid serf,...advance and, and move on" but he doesn't even have that chance.

Well, he's being unrealistic. He expected to land a lucrative career in the financial services industry at a time when that same industry imploded, and threatened to take down the rest of the world with it (and many people are still suffering as a result).

I have no idea why this entitled prick thinks the world owes him $70k a year right out of school. It wouldn't bother me so much, except that, as I said above, he left out his little material aspirations until the end of the article, all the while claiming to speak for the people of his generation, which he most certainly is not.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:50 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hey, asshat. Instead of going through your entire life (and you're already 29, OMG it's almost over for you!) thinking about how to get ahead, why not take a little break, volunteer somewhere and lose the "me" focus? Who know? You might even meet someone who can help you in your social and corporate climbing endeavors while helping others. That's how I got my first "real" job.
posted by Kokopuff at 12:51 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


$36k is a little on the low side if you live in one of the larger Canadian cities, where rent and the general cost of living is expensive, and if you have to pay off student loans.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:52 PM on May 17, 2012



Hey, asshat. Instead of going through your entire life (and you're already 29, OMG it's almost over for you!) thinking about how to get ahead, why not take a little break, volunteer somewhere and lose the "me" focus? Who know? You might even meet someone who can help you in your social and corporate climbing endeavors while helping others. That's how I got my first "real" job.


Wait. You're allowed to take a break from rent, bills, food and everything else?
How does one do that?
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:53 PM on May 17, 2012 [32 favorites]


I could go on, but you get the idea. Every piece of available information on the subject confirms that when people in their 20s think that being unemployed for a long time is a terrible thing with long-term consequences, they are exactly right about that.

Stats that are true for a corhort break down at an individual level. I was un- or underemployed for long stretches of my 20s (this was the late 80s/early 90s). I was depressed. I moved home for a while. I worked a long series of Dumb Jobs that rarely made ends meet. I had debt. Etc.

And yet, through no tremendous heroics of my own, here I am 20ish years later with a good job, a spouse, cats, all that. I was convinced when I was 28 that my life was basically ruined because I had no direction, none of my dreams would come to be and so on.

I was so married to the stuff I thought I was supposed to have and want that I couldn't even think about stuff I *could* have, if only I could imagine it.
posted by rtha at 12:54 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


There are many excellent ways to communicate the despair and hopelessness of being a young person looking for an entry level job in this economy. Publishing this fellow's letter isn't one of them - he comes off as a whiny jerk.
posted by sid at 12:56 PM on May 17, 2012




Is 36,000 a decent salary in Canada for a first "real job" out of college?


It's about 18.75 an hour. More than you'd get paid for flipping burgers, but well below the average wage for anyone but a teenager. How far it goes will depend on what region you're in, but minimum wage tends to hover around the appalling low figure of 10$ no matter where you are.

Here's the stats can data if you want something to compare it to.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:58 PM on May 17, 2012


So, $36,000 CAD is about $35,000 USD. I'm pretty unsympathetic to the idea that that's a poverty-level wage for a first job. I live in New York City, which is widely considered to be a very expensive place to live. I've been in (funded) grad school since college, and have never made more that $25,000 in a year. And I've been fine. Here's a (perhaps unfair) guess: anyone who has no kids and thinks that $36,000 a year is an unlivable salary owns, at minimum, an ipad and an HDTV.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:01 PM on May 17, 2012 [22 favorites]


Somehow I managed to get married, have a kid and buy a house when I was in my twenties after having bombed out of college and working as a house painter making $10/hour. That was twenty years ago so adjust for inflation and subtract the house if you don't live in the glorious rust-belt but still.
posted by octothorpe at 1:01 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Our starting offers are in the $40k to $55k range for people with a university degree (depending on type and terminal level of degree).
posted by bonehead at 1:01 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shit, man, $36k? I bust ass for a lot less than that, and am currently busting ass to get a promotion that I've been promised but there's no actual funding for. (I don't know how much of this is because the two fields I've worked for significant time are publishing and non-profits, but damn, I'd like to make adult money at some point in my life.)
posted by klangklangston at 1:04 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's exaggerated for the purposes of publication, but he's right about how the prospects of owning a home and saving for retirement are increasingly out of the picture for the Millennial generation, at least for those working in big expensive cities, which is of course where many of the desirable jobs are.

I see the idea of the stable 40-year corporate career becoming a series of 1-2 year stints, with companies hiring and firing as the economy booms and busts in increasingly short cycles, while wages stagnate and cost of living increases. Freelancing will become a much more common option, even in previously stable careers like law, marketing, and engineering/design.

Not that any of these things are necessarily bad, just different. And there will be a generation that struggles to accept that they will never have the "prosperity" that their parents had. The idea of prosperity will need to be redefined.
posted by sharkitect at 1:05 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Boo friggen hoo.

Try finding a job paying what you're worth after you are in your 40s. I'm not there yet but I cannot imagine doing so. Seeing people with MBAs, working for less than those in their 50s, and those people have (most likely) a mortgage, spouse/partner, kids, pets, more debt, and possibly other responsibilities (like for a while I was taking care of my mom) so....

STFU 29 year old.

My first job was $19,500 with a MA back in 1995. I had a $525 2 bedroom apartment, not in the city, not in the trendy area, no car, no debt, walked three blocks to public transportation, no laundry facilities (shopping/doing laundry was based on generosity of my parents a mile away and using their car). I was newly single and you know, I was happy gosh darn it.

29---owned a house, had mucho debt, car payments, pets, spouse, used all savings to put a downpayment (dumb) and then bam....out of a job 2 years later. Serving cheese at the local groceries for $100 a day was a definately humility check.

So...I guess the morgal of the story is, you take what you can get when you're desperate. Be grateful you can before mucho responsibility comes your way (spouse, mortgage, debt, etc). Otherwise---go back home? I did it for a while.
posted by stormpooper at 1:05 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is 36,000 a decent salary in Canada for a first "real job" out of college?

At one time, I'd have said: "It depends." These days, I think the answer is a more clear-cut: "Yes," unless you work in the oil industry (in which case you could probably make more than than just for pushing a broom around a shop floor).
posted by asnider at 1:06 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


My first job after university paid $26,000. In 2001. I would have loved the chance to earn $36K.
posted by LN at 1:07 PM on May 17, 2012


He should march on down and join the Army. Staightn' em right up!

(No, really. Any branch of the military would LOVE to have a college educated officer with a finance degree.)
posted by lstanley at 1:07 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eh, I only had crap paying jobs until I was 31, when I landed my first real job. Ten years later, I have a house, wife, two kids, etc. etc. I think he may be worrying a bit too much. I just didn't care about those sort of things in my twenties. I was too busy going to school, working at things I enjoyed (all short-term contracts) and the like. If you asked me at 30, I never would have predicted the direction my life took a year later.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:07 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


At the age of 29, I've likely forever lost the following opportunities due to cost and probable inability to make up for lost wages and career potential:
- Getting married.
- Having children.
- Owning a home that's bigger than 500 square feet. (hint: that's not big.)
- Studying any more, whether that means grad school, law school, or even just night classes at a random community college.
- Retirement. Sure, I'd love to be investing for it. But with what money?


This is absolute doom and gloom BS. At 29 I had none of these things, a few years late I have all of them including decent wages and career trajectory. Not only that, and don't tell anyone, but I have all that with possibly less strees and effort than I was putting out at 29!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:08 PM on May 17, 2012


"Gosh, Mary-Ann imma marry you once I save some money so we can afford a place" is a trope from lots of old stories.

Yea, but if you read the next paragraph he actually thinks he won't be able to get married because he's too poor to go on dates in the first place. And there's a difference between 'we'll get married once we can afford to move out from our parents house' and 'I can't marry you and continue to rent! We need to own a house!', the difference being I find the second one stupid.
posted by jacalata at 1:09 PM on May 17, 2012


My first job was $19,500 with a MA back in 1995."

For what it's worth, pun intended, that's about $29k today.
posted by klangklangston at 1:10 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


These days, I think the answer is a more clear-cut: "Yes,"

It is striking to me though that in the 16 years since I got my first temporary, short-term contract, that ~$36k starting job number hasn't changed much. Inflation has been 1 to 2% per year. It strikes home how much real erosion of "middle-class" income there has been in the past decade or more.
posted by bonehead at 1:10 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


My first job after university paid $26,000. In 2001. I would have loved the chance to earn $36K."

And with inflation, that's about $33k today, so not too far off.
posted by klangklangston at 1:11 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oddly, I just took a phone call from my 68-year-old former co-worker (she got laid off when my old company split in two...I already had left for another company), and she has FIVE JOB OFFERS on the table for much more than she was making before (as an Executive Assistant).

Life doesn't end at 29, kid.
posted by xingcat at 1:11 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's unfair to conflate the fact that this particular young man essentially wanted to be a rich douchebag with the broader and entirely correct point he's making that young people are statistically, overall, getting a really raw deal right now.

mhoye, given that his life is the entire point of his article, the fact that he wants to be a rich douchebag is inextricably part of this thread, and his arguments.

"Life is unfair, because I didn't get all the cookies I wanted!" It's not relevant that life actually is unfair; the statement is stupidly narcissistic.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:12 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


First world problems, boo fucking hoo. Growing up in South America, working my way through college, shit jobs like sweeping up mouse shit in the warehouse of an abusive fashion designer, driving a grease truck parked on campus all night long (that scene from Scarface, where Tony is bitching about the onions and his hands - fucker didn't work over a live deep fryer, that fried stench was on me for months), selling beer out of a backpack filled with ice at the NY Central Park summer concerts to make food money, retreating to the roach-infested Hells Kitchen shithole apartment and drinking whatever beer was left, in front of an open refrigerator with a shitty fan, AKA "air conditioning", clawing my way up and gradually making a name for myself, to find that the year I turn 50, I own shit, am a renter, living on air and the good grace of the Universe, well, I read the entitlement bullshit coming off the fingers of a twenty-something and realize that, fuck it, I typed enough. Never mind.
posted by dbiedny at 1:13 PM on May 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


> And of course a series of comments talking about how "the author is too proud to work a menial job and live with their parents".

TFA points out that most people who need menial workers are reluctant to hire him because they feel he'll leave as soon as something more amenable comes along.


The fact that people sneering that he was "too proud to work a menial job" blithely overlooked him saying this was kind of my point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:20 PM on May 17, 2012


I think some people are missing the point that his audience is rich douchebags who read The Globe and who look down on people like him for being too lazy to be like them. He's trying to say 'Hey, I'd fucking love to be you if only I had a chance, but I don't. So don't call me lazy, mmmkay?'
posted by jacquilynne at 1:23 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


keep at it , crabs, one day your masters will favor you and pluck you out of the tank in thanks for pulling the other crabs right back in! any day now! fuck yeah!
posted by wuwei at 1:26 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


He and his wife did at one point own a rather nice place. His wife still does, but with the guy she's with now that her lawyers are finally done with my friend through the divorce process.

I am sure the misogyny will help that job search!


That's not the half of it. When I first read the article this morning, that sentence read "raping my friend through the divorce process". The Globe must have edited it out after posting it online.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:27 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Give me a break on the "douchebag" charges. Let's look at what he says, piece by piece:

I wanted 65 hour weeks in a high pressure corporate environment.

He's willing to work his ass off, accept substantial job stress, and pay his dues. He says elsewhere in the article that he lacks connections and his only path to success is through his own efforts.

I wanted the tailored suits, the chance at a high income, the BMW, the prestige, the respect, and the power.

He wants to wear nice clothes. He wants a nice car. He wants a CHANCE to earn a high income. He wants a prestigious job with authority and respect. I suspect that most of the douchebag police would like to have many of these things themselves but would never admit it.

I wanted to be someone.

Yes, how dare someone in his 20s want to make his mark on the world? Everyone here wants to be an anonymous nobody.

I wanted to be able to afford to donate to charities that are important to me.

Interesting how everyone quoting this part of the article left out the above sentence.
posted by brain_drain at 1:28 PM on May 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


...I turn 50, I own shit, am a renter, living on air and the good grace of the Universe, well, I read the entitlement bullshit coming off the fingers of a twenty-something and realize that, fuck it, I typed enough.

Those damn entitled twenty-somethings! Don't they know they could've been born in 1962 as well if they just tried a little harder?
posted by griphus at 1:28 PM on May 17, 2012 [23 favorites]


After a minimum of a week, but more likely a month, you'll have anywhere between one to eight responses from HR departments, depending on whether you sent 100+ or 200+ application packages. These responses will excite you. ... consider yourself lucky if you get a single interview, which will likely be done over the phone. In person?!? Lucky. Very, very lucky.

Sounds like online dating.
posted by shivohum at 1:29 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


John Cohen: Your job search is hard because of factors outside your control, but you also do have some control over how it turns out (you can apply to more or less jobs, make better or worse choices about where to apply, give a better or worse performance in job interviews, etc.).

You do have "some control over how it turns out," but less than you might expect. You have absolutely no control as an individual over structural economic factors, which, it turns out, are far more responsible for what is going on right now for a great many people who are unemployed than the "you do have some control!" crowd will ever admit.

Call this dude a whiny jerk and a douchebag all you want, it doesn't change the fact that for every one of him, there are thousands of educated people his age and younger (not to mention the thousands of educated people twice his age) who aren't whiny jerks or douchebags who are suffering jobless or underemployed (plus in many cases drowning from servicing student loan debt) out there, no matter how many people extol the virtues of believing that "you do have some control!"

octothorpe: Somehow I managed to get married, have a kid and buy a house when I was in my twenties after having bombed out of college and working as a house painter making $10/hour. That was twenty years ago so adjust for inflation and subtract the house if you don't live in the glorious rust-belt but still.

stormpooper: My first job was $19,500 with a MA back in 1995. I had a $525 2 bedroom apartment, not in the city, not in the trendy area, no car, no debt, walked three blocks to public transportation, no laundry facilities (shopping/doing laundry was based on generosity of my parents a mile away and using their car). I was newly single and you know, I was happy gosh darn it.

The same goes for the crowd who continue to believe that everything is identical or equivalent (or should be identical or equivalent) in the employment economy in 2012 as it was in 1972, 1982, or 1992 -- despite all the easily findable data to the contrary -- and that if younger people just got off their asses and stopped whining everything would be okay.

dbiedny: I read the entitlement bullshit coming off the fingers of a twenty-something and realize that, fuck it, I typed enough. Never mind.

It's not necessarily "entitlement bullshit" for a 29-year-old to want the same life that his parents and other people of the generation before him took for granted, assumed that their kids would have too, and are now baring their fangs and lambasting people like him for wanting to have as well. American (or Canadian) dream, little pink houses for you and me, I got flats in other continents, etc, etc., etc. The very same thing that politicians believe and are constantly saying that we all should still be aspiring to, no matter how bankrupt the philosophy and how young or old or debt-saddled we are.

Or, it may be "entitlement bullshit," who knows? But the whole generational warfare "I got mine, fuck you, get off my lawn" thing is really getting kind of old.
posted by blucevalo at 1:31 PM on May 17, 2012 [28 favorites]


At the age of 29, I've likely forever lost the following opportunities due to cost and probable inability to make up for lost wages and career potential...

Due to "cost and probable inability to make up for lost wages and career potential"?

No, it's "due to" you being a dick.

I know tons of 29-year-olds with shitty jobs, no money, no children etc. However, they're all cool as fuck, imaginative, and finding ways to do marvellous things most days. I predict great things for many of them still, and not one will lament, later in life, not "owning a home that's bigger than 500 square feet."

I seethe with pity when it comes to this kind of person. There is no period of history - boom or bust - that has been kind to the likes of this guy.
posted by cincinnatus c at 1:31 PM on May 17, 2012


It must be very frustrating to feel like you're doing everything right (whether that's true or not) and still not make any headway. Hopefully things get better for them, or at least they start to get whatever lessons they need to get from where they are.
posted by Mooski at 1:31 PM on May 17, 2012


Gryphus, you just gave me the best laugh I've had all week. Muchisimas gracias! :-D
posted by dbiedny at 1:31 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is 36,000 a decent salary in Canada for a first "real job" out of college?

That was my starting salary out of university. In 1996.


My starting salary at my first job after my PhD paid $35K. In 2006. It sucked.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:33 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Inflation has been 1 to 2% per year."

In what universe? That's not even the average the government claims over the last 16 years, which is somewhere in the 2.5% range.. But we all know that is far from the actual inflation rate. Even now we are running above 2.

Data point: I made $36k coming out of college in 2001, but the job was at a small mom-and-pop computer firm that certainly wasn't paying on the high end of the industry. I got the job because I had interned with them the year before (only because I sent them a letter asking if I could - they had not had interns before). I took the job because the bubble had burst and, hey, it was a job. This was in Maine so $36k was actually relatively decent, given cost-of-living there.
posted by mbatch at 1:35 PM on May 17, 2012


The pile-on on this guy is astounding. I feel like I've read at least two dozen threads in Mefi and AskMe where Genx's and Millenials and the like lament the difficulty of securing a middle class existence in the teeth of the current North American economy, whose difficulties are well known to be more pronounced on the under-40 and non-white demographics. But when you get substantially the same litany of struggle, but published in the G&M, its nothing but snark and dismissal. Ya, so this guy admits that he was a striver and craved the symbols of conventional success. How does this excuse the nasty pile-on from the very community that has been reporting essentially the same anecdote in every financial crisis / grad school / lawschool / student loan / economic inequality thread of the last two years.
posted by bumpkin at 1:36 PM on May 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


Here's a (perhaps unfair) guess: anyone who has no kids and thinks that $36,000 a year is an unlivable salary owns, at minimum, an ipad and an HDTV.

Well, they certainly own a car, which is a lot more expensive than an iPad and an HDTV (and it's not like an HDTV is exactly a luxury nowadays.)
posted by smackfu at 1:37 PM on May 17, 2012


For people who don't seem to understand the idea of inflation: All of the following dollar amounts and years are equal per the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the US.

2011 - $36,000
2006 - $32,300
2001 - $28,900
1996 - $25,100
1991 - $21,800
1986 - $17,500
1981 - $14,600
1976 - $9,110
1971 - $6,480
1966 - $5,200
1961 - $4,790
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:37 PM on May 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


Boy, the late 70's sure did suck inflation-wise.
posted by smackfu at 1:38 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, man, are you saying all these bills I have from the 60s are worth almost ten times as much?

PEACE OUT SUCKERS
posted by griphus at 1:40 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


No, it's "due to" you being a dick.

I know tons of 29-year-olds with shitty jobs, no money, no children etc. However, they're all cool as fuck, imaginative, and finding ways to do marvellous things most days. I predict great things for many of them still, and not one will lament, later in life, not "owning a home that's bigger than 500 square feet."


Wait, when did wishing you had the kind of job that would allow you to afford to buy a bigger-than-tiny house make you a dick?
posted by gauche at 1:41 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bullshit. I'm a Canadian college grad, and in my first job out of college, I made about 24k, or $13 per hour. This was in 2009, in Victoria, one of the more expensive cities in the country. 36k? Sign me UP. I spent some time abroad, in a country where folks are on the whole much better paid, but I wanted to live in Canada, so I've returned to about that same wage. I have more experience now, but my BA (admittedly in English lit) still only gets me secretarial work.

So I get where he's coming from, I know it's hard out there because I'm living that, too. I've done my fair share of complaining about how hard it is. And I still think he's an ass. To me, it sounds like he's doing pretty damn well for himself, compared to some of us. But regardless of what he's doing and making now, it's ridiculous to, at 29, throw a fit about your life being ruined. Grow up, buddy. It's hard, but you'll get your tailored suit some day.
posted by snorkmaiden at 1:41 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


you're probably wondering why I'm not looking at retail, restaurant, or coffee shop jobs. The truth is that I am, but due to my resume, experience, and other such things, these places assume I'll leave as soon as something "corporate" pops up

But that's true for everyone, not just this dude. How do these places hire anybody, then? Anyone making minimum wage with lousy benefits will jump ship at a better opportunity, not just those who fancy themselves to be some sort of corporate superstar. He says he can't get jobs, but he's also saying he won't take jobs because he wants better jobs. Fair enough, I guess, but he seems to be so one-track-minded, and he just keeps looking longingly at what isn't working for him. (Investigate entrepreneurship, maybe?)
posted by sageleaf at 1:43 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Twenty-nine.

First job?

At 29, I think I was somewhere around 20 separate employers.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:44 PM on May 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the Globe (especially in the financial pages) just makes this shit up.

Is 36,000 a decent salary in Canada for a first "real job" out of college?

Depends, I guess. I'm roughly the author's age, and my wife and I both make a comparable salary in one of the most expensive Canadian cities. Obviously we're better off because there are two of us (but, then, he's complaining he can't get married!) And we're a lot better off than we were in the States. It's more money than we know what to do with (we tend to be frugal) I don't have a lot of sympathy for his plight. Not that I even think he's real, of course; the Globe is basically one massive trolling operation.
posted by junco at 1:49 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


At 29, I was alternating between minimum-wage jobs (bookstores, movie theaters) and no job at all (boy, getting unemployment was a pain in the ass in those days, let me tell you). I'm finding it hard to sympathize with Mister "I wanted the tailored suits, the chance at a high income, the BMW, the prestige, the respect, and the power. I wanted to be someone."
posted by languagehat at 1:49 PM on May 17, 2012


Ok, so, his comments about his friend's divorce were... ugh. Yucky.

But the greater misogyny to me is, ok, you don't want to get married without money. Which, I don't get. If you want a *wedding* sure, that can be expensive. But marriage itself? I've done it twice. Neither time did it set me back any - one time, it saved me $15k that I would have otherwise paid in medical expenses by getting on my husband's insurance. (Though thankfully, being Canadian, dude doesn't have to worry about that one.)

What I REALLY don't get is his selling out having a life partner at the cost of a house and retirement. Does he not get that a spouse who had a second income could, y'know, add to his general financial well being and thus make him more likely to buy/rent a nicer house and set aside money for retirement? Seems to me he's stuck in the "I R MAN. I MUST PROVIDE." mindset.

(This is a simplistic reduction of what it means to have a spouse and dual incomes, but it just seems to me an angle he isn't taking into consideration for reasons passing understanding. And obviously, I'm not factoring the cost of kids into this.)
posted by sonika at 1:50 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


We all make choices, I've made some good ones, a lot of bad ones. Now I'm in my forties and finally getting the university education I should have taken at 18. In the meantime, I've worked as a server, a bartender, and a customer service rep. They were all shitty jobs, and demanding physically in a way that is paying off now with aches and pains that remind me of hauling kegs and lifting boxes of parts. I've also raised two children, worked to set my ex-husband up in a business that pays him 30-40 dollars an hour, renovated houses, raised goats, cleaned homes and taken care of ailing relatives. I currently 'live' on about 13 000 a year, in one of Canada's most expensive cities. I use my school food bank and constantly teeter on the verge of not meeting my rent, or not being able to pay for my phone. I love what I'm doing and consider myself privileged to be able to attend a prestigious school and study in a field that satisfies me immensely. But sympathy for this guy? Not so much. Dude, I have to do without, that means without things like bread. If I buy an ice cream I feel guilty because it's not necessary. I haven't eaten a meal in a restaurant since I stopped dating. I wear cast off clothing and wash my clothes in my bathtub. But I smile every day, feel happy and blessed to be doing something that pleases me, because it's not nice clothes or luxury automobiles that matter. It's being healthy in mind and body and loving life, because life is the only true asset you have, and if you live in North America, even if you're as broke as me, you're better off than most of the people in the world.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 1:51 PM on May 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


> Thank you dude for writing an article that was pulled from every stereotype about
> contemporary young adults ever,

29-plus isn't young. The leading edge of middle age is already washing over you.
posted by jfuller at 1:52 PM on May 17, 2012


At the age of 29, I've likely forever lost the following opportunities due to cost and probable inability to make up for lost wages and career potential:

- Getting married.
- Having children.
- Owning a home that's bigger than 500 square feet. (hint: that's not big.)
- Studying any more, whether that means grad school, law school, or even just night classes at a random community college.
- Retirement. Sure, I'd love to be investing for it. But with what money?


We buried my father today.
He was born to a 14 year old unwed girl, never knew his father, and was raised in poverty by family during the depression

At 29, he was:
- single
- no kids
- never owned a home
- a grade 8 education
- 0 invested in retirement.

At 85:
- widowed, after 45 years of a loving marriage
- 4 kids, 6 grandkids
- owned his own home
- earned a Masters degree
- had, shall we say, a "comfortable" retirement

So, you know, opportunity is never lost.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 1:57 PM on May 17, 2012 [20 favorites]


So, you know, opportunity is never lost.

As people keep pointing out, it's 2012, not 1960.
posted by MillMan at 2:03 PM on May 17, 2012 [23 favorites]


and it's not like an HDTV is exactly a luxury nowadays

But that's exactly my point. There are a lot of really cool things that are expensive, but seem to be just considered part of the price of living to a lot of people. I know people who complain about their poverty all the time but own iphones. That's a very specific kind of poverty, and if you're really having trouble making ends meet, that probably wasn't the best choice. Similarly, when I'm writing in the coffee shop, I see a lot of people updating resumes and trolling monster.com on brand new macbooks. I don't mean to pick on apple specifically here, but apple products are really fucking expensive, and it seems like a lot of people just default to them. This is fine if you have money, but it's a bad idea if you don't. If you are childless and you think that you can't live on $36,000 a year, something about your lifestlye really needs to change.

I'm not trying to be all "these kids today." I'm 29. I'm about to finish grad school, I'm looking for work, and it's hard to get a job. Really hard. But that's why I have so little patience for someone who wants to complain about $36,000 a year. I would love to be making that next year.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:03 PM on May 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


So, you know, opportunity is never lost.

As people keep pointing out, it's 2012, not 1960.


It's not 1929, or the 30's or 1939-1945 either.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 2:10 PM on May 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


and it's not like an HDTV is exactly a luxury nowadays

Sure it is. So is cable. I don't know how much money I'd have to make to justify spending it on that. (A cable subscription is like at least $1200/yr!)
posted by junco at 2:10 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


First world problems, boo fucking hoo. Growing up in South America, working my way through college, shit jobs like sweeping up mouse shit in the warehouse of an abusive fashion designer, driving a grease truck parked on campus all night long (that scene from Scarface, where Tony is bitching about the onions and his hands - fucker didn't work over a live deep fryer, that fried stench was on me for months), selling beer out of a backpack filled with ice at the NY Central Park summer concerts to make food money, retreating to the roach-infested Hells Kitchen shithole apartment and drinking whatever beer was left, in front of an open refrigerator with a shitty fan, AKA "air conditioning", clawing my way up and gradually making a name for myself, to find that the year I turn 50, I own shit, am a renter, living on air and the good grace of the Universe, well, I read the entitlement bullshit coming off the fingers of a twenty-something and realize that, fuck it, I typed enough. Never mind.

Look, this really bugs me. It sounds like you're saying "I had an appalling life of suffering and economic exploitation and have come through to my fifties with nothing and therefore....that's the way it should be and anyone who has it a bit better than me is just a whiner unless they're willing to eat as much shit as I've been forced to".

That sounds to me just like the people who get at me for having insurance via my work because their employer is screwing them. They feel like the problem is that people like me "don't deserve" health benefits, like the world would be a better place if we all raced to the bottom. (Except the 1%, of course; they can race to the very tippy-top, that doesn't matter as long as anyone else gets torn down.)

Frankly, this guy in the linked post sounds like an asshole. And I didn't make $36,000 a year until I was 35. But that's because we live in an unjust, exploitative, vicious society that needs dramatic change, not because people who are making $36,000 at age 29 are a bunch of lazy, entitled whiners.

It can't be said enough - we should all have the healthcare we need, good working conditions, decent pay and jobs that are as non-horrible as possible*. It would be nice if the government and the progressive foundations and various Important People would do this for us, but they would much rather that we tore each other down over $6,000 a year so that they can make $500,000 at conservative think tanks or whatever. If we want change, we can't be tearing each other down over tiny sums and oppression olympics.

*Someone will still have to clean the sewers, for example, even in utopia, but every effort should be taken to make jobs not horrible.
posted by Frowner at 2:10 PM on May 17, 2012 [27 favorites]


Wait, when did wishing you had the kind of job that would allow you to afford to buy a bigger-than-tiny house make you a dick?

It makes him a dick because complaining about never "owning a home that's bigger than 500 square feet" is a complaint I've never heard from anyone who ever did any good in the world. In my twenties, I never heard anyone who was any good at anything talk about their dreams in terms of square feet. In fact, in my twenties I didn't even hear the dicks talk about square feet.

I am in my 30s and I probably earn less than he thinks is the minimum possible to survive on. Nevertheless, I think that owning children and buying homes is quite within my means. It's surreal to hear this dick say otherwise. I hope to earn more in the future. But right now, I'm OK. I'm not rolling in it, but I'm pretty satisfied. People who send off - what is he claiming? - hundreds of applications for jobs with companies whose sole purpose is to make money from money (and will not consider less selfish routes to happiness) are legion and inoffensive. Let us not be Marxists now. What makes this guy stand out is that is he wants his cake and the eating of it. His being pissed off with other people (=society) for not providing him with his selfish desires is ironic and ugly.

Also, I don't know what 500 square feet means, in a house. He claims that it is small. So I can only surmise the following:

500 square feet is small = as a 29-year-old without a job currently, he is trying to claim he will never be able to afford a small house = bullshit, needy, immature shite (even social workers I know, graduated age 45, can afford a small house) = he is a dick

500 square feet is big = this 29-year-old demands a big house and this is how life is measured = he is a dick

I could expand on this.
posted by cincinnatus c at 2:10 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are a lot of really cool things that are expensive, but seem to be just considered part of the price of living to a lot of people.

A 32" HDTV can be had for $200 or less. iPads cost as little as $320 if you get a refurb. iPhones are as low as $99 with your cell phone contract.

I've been very, very poor before with no safety net at all, but I would never spite people for having a tiny luxury that improves their lives.
posted by lattiboy at 2:12 PM on May 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


I managed to live in New York on $17,000/year (take home) in 2004. I even had a social life. And an iPod!
posted by elsietheeel at 2:12 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Just a note - I have a friend who has an iPhone because she has no computer and no other way to access the internet, yet is dependent on the internet for a lot of stuff about work and transit. She's really super-duper insanely broke and vulnerable, and that iPhone is a lifeline. It was a damn good thing she bought it a couple of years ago when she briefly had a little money. True, some folks get ten dollars and go out and buy a ten dollar ring, but you can't always judge people's financial prudence by their possessions.)
posted by Frowner at 2:17 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


lattiboy - I think we're talking past each other. I was using those devices as a stand-in for living beyond one's means - I have no doubt that those can all be found for relatively affordable prices (although I will note that $200 + $500 + $99 = a month's rent). I still do not accept that a person with no children and reasonable spending habits would be struggling on $36,000 a year. The particulars of what they're buying are less important than the sum total of their buying patterns.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:17 PM on May 17, 2012


At his age I had a journalism degree and didn't want to be a journalist, was working a completely dead-end job repo'ing impounded cars for a finance company, and was living with a friend for almost no rent. By the time I was 32 I was starting a stable teaching job and am now married, have a house that's almost paid off, and enjoy life immensely. Kids are so dramatic.
posted by Huck500 at 2:20 PM on May 17, 2012


Look, this really bugs me. It sounds like you're saying "I had an appalling life of suffering and economic exploitation and have come through to my fifties with nothing and therefore....that's the way it should be and anyone who has it a bit better than me is just a whiner unless they're willing to eat as much shit as I've been forced to".

Well, you might think that's what I'm saying, but it's not. Simply put: I expect very little from life, and my expectations have been met, and then some. To expect anything is a fools errand, it's like expecting people to do the right thing in a given situation. Live long enough, and you'll find that people do the right thing for themselves, and possibly their children, but that's it, have such expectations and you will be let down by life.'"Appalling life of suffering"? Not a chance, I am bright enough to know that I live better than the majority of the people on this planet, and it's still a fact that I have not lived up to my "potential", measured either by my own expectations (those pesky bastards again), or those of "society", whatever the fuck that it these days.

And you can't get off my lawn, I don't have one.
posted by dbiedny at 2:23 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


It makes him a dick because complaining about never "owning a home that's bigger than 500 square feet" is a complaint I've never heard from anyone who ever did any good in the world. In my twenties, I never heard anyone who was any good at anything talk about their dreams in terms of square feet. In fact, in my twenties I didn't even hear the dicks talk about square feet.

QED, naturally.

People who send off - what is he claiming? - hundreds of applications for jobs with companies whose sole purpose is to make money from money (and will not consider less selfish routes to happiness) are legion and inoffensive. Let us not be Marxists now. What makes this guy stand out is that is he wants his cake and the eating of it. His being pissed off with other people (=society) for not providing him with his selfish desires is ironic and ugly.

Did you read the article? This guy is, or claims he is, willing to put in his dues. He's willing to start at the bottom, to put in the long hours. What he's saying is that the opportunities for people who are willing to put in their dues are not as good as he thought they were. He also spent some time -- and people have referenced it in-thread, I don't know how you've missed it -- talking about not being able to get even a service-type job. Now, maybe he's doing something wrong. I don't know. I haven't seen his resume. I don't know how he interviews. But your assertion that he's trying to have his cake and eat it too is pretty fucking thin.

What would you have him do that he's not doing? Send out massive amounts of resumes? Sounds like he's done that. Do informational interviewing and networking? Sounds like he's done that. Apply for entry-level work in the mean time? Sounds like he's done that. He's making it work going from contract job to contract job: that might not be sustainable as a way to have a middle-class life anymore, even if he's clearing $36k right now. Do people have it worse than this? Yeah, they do. He might even know that.

And 500 square feet is pretty small. Not in absolute terms, but in terms of wanting to be able to buy a house that at all resembles, say, the house you grew up in, if you grew up lower-middle-class in the U.S. or Canada in the 1960s-1990s.
posted by gauche at 2:23 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


In my twenties, I never heard anyone who was any good at anything talk about their dreams in terms of square feet

Definitely not my experience. I've worked with plenty of extremely talented engineers who talk about houses and such, especially having lived in the Bay Area where people would talk about moving elsewhere to have more space.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:25 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Although I don't agree with this guy's need to be Gordon Gecko, one thing American readers of this thread may not get is just how much more costly it is to live in Canada than the States. Entry-level houses in most major cities where the jobs average $400k. Food is more expensive. Gas is more expensive. Cars are more expensive. Clothes are more expensive. There's a higher tax burden here.

I suppose our ace in the hole is health care.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:25 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


To expect anything is a fools errand, it's like expecting people to do the right thing in a given situation.

Wait, now we're calling the social contract itself privilege? Apparently there is nothing worth saving, if saving it might mean admitting that this guy has a point.
posted by gauche at 2:25 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


For those claiming that one can easily own a house on 36k a year, keep in mind that Toronto homes average about 520k a pop, with detached single family dwellings going for about 50% more.
posted by sid at 2:26 PM on May 17, 2012


The fun thing is when you go out and get one of those minimum-wage jobs at the retail store after college because nothing else has worked out, you make your best commitment to it, you really do everything you can to make the best of your 8.25/hr and 32-hr a week job, and the adults in your life and really everywhere say to you, "Are you sure you should put that on your resume? It makes you look like you have no ambition."

"Why don't you go to grad school?"
posted by newg at 2:27 PM on May 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


The social contract, laying face down in the bloody pool, right next to Tony Montana and his shattered body. We could ID it, if only it had a face...
posted by dbiedny at 2:29 PM on May 17, 2012


As people keep pointing out, it's 2012, not 1960.

It's not the decade, it's the attitude. Things are harder now for someone in his particular position than they would've been in less economically shitty times. That's true. It's also true that being 29 and moaning about how your life is over and you'll never have All the Things is, well, kind of typical of people in their 20s. Right now on the front page of the green there's a question from someone who's convinced their life is over because college isn't going well.

It doesn't make you a bad person to moan about how your life is over at 21 or 29. It just makes you a person who hasn't had a lot of experiences or perspective. Those will come as you keep on keepin' on.
posted by rtha at 2:31 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Although I don't agree with this guy's need to be Gordon Gecko, one thing American readers of this thread may not get is just how much more costly it is to live in Canada than the States.

Thanks KokuRyu - I didn't know that. That does change things a little bit, although I still think that the specific language in which he couches his aspirations isn't doing him any favors.

In any event, I was a little more sympathetic to his discussion of the grinding process of sending resumes to HR black holes. I was getting really frustrated by that as well. One thing that helped me was reading that old chestnut, What Color is Your Parachute?, which has been updated for the current job market. The book has a really interesting and helpful chapter explaining that there are a bunch of ways to get a job, and applying to postings by sending resumes to HR is only an effective method in a good labor market. When there are lots of jobs to be had, it works fine, which leads lots of people to think that's just how you get a job. That assumption betrays them in a bad market, since HR's job is to eliminate as many resumes from the pile as possible. What you want, in this market, is to make it really easy for them to hire you, because you're either already freelancing for them or already working there as a temp.

I can't tell you how much reading that helped my mood surrounding my job search. Everything felt hopeless because it sort of was - but only the way I was trying to do it. Fortunately, there are other ways.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:33 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ragged Richard, you're right that sending resumes is not an effective method. The Parachute book spends a lot of time talking about networking and doing informational interviews and meeting the right contacts. We don't know whether the author of that piece is doing all of those things, but he definitely talks about informational interviewing.
posted by gauche at 2:36 PM on May 17, 2012


$36,000 a year?? I'd wet my pants if I were offered that much. I'm currently making about $13,000/year after tax in a job that I have about 5 years experience in. I feel like I could almost buy the world with 36k!

Comments like this both upset me and make me sad. I'll explain why; to do so, let me set out my assumptions. First, I assume you are in the US. I also assume you are working full time, and that you are your own "household" (i.e., you don't live with a partner who also has income), since that is the situation this guy is in and you seem to assume your situation is comparable.

If my assumptions are correct, you are making a bit under $16K per year pre-tax. That is barely above the federal minimum wage in the US (again, assuming full time work). If you are being paid this way with 5 years of experience, then bluntly, ma'am, you are being exploited. You have about 1/3 the median household income of the US. About 75% of American households take home more than this in a given year. What your employer is doing to you is indecent and you should be outraged by it.

Really, you have much more in common with this person than you have dividing you. I mean, he seems to have a poor attitude and his career goals aren't mine, but if the default comment to anyone doing better than ourselves is "hey man, you got it GOOD!", that just sows jealousy and resentment among people who really should be in it together. It can be the case that people at both of these income levels have a tough time of it, and neither of them needs to chastise the other.

If my assumptions about you are wrong, I apologize. I do think the assumed situation describes a lot of actual people, though.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:39 PM on May 17, 2012 [31 favorites]


gauche - agreed. I wasn't using that discussion to criticize the author of the piece (although I get how it probably seemed that way, given the tenor of my other comments). I just wanted to share it with other unemployed people, since it was so helpful for me.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:42 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used What Colour is Your Parachute when I moved to Canada after spending a decade in Japan, and had to transition from being a trained teacher (there were no teaching jobs in BC when I moved back) to something else, and it worked, thank God. Until I got laid off and had to repeat the whole process over again.

However, I don't think networking is going to do it for large numbers of young people who are out of work, especially in Europe and the States - there are just not enough new jobs being created.

Even in Canada, where unemployment levels can be quite low in some parts of the country (5% in Victoria, a city of 400,000 where I live), it's unclear what the quality of the work is. There's that saying that there are lots of jobs in Canada right now, which is good, because you need 2 or 3 jobs just to pay the rent.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:42 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The book has a really interesting and helpful chapter explaining that there are a bunch of ways to get a job, and applying to postings by sending resumes to HR is only an effective method in a good labor market.

The letter goes on for a bit about "alternative approaches" to the job search, which he admits he has found ineffective.

And I concur. The "strategies" these books suggest — and which are echoed endlessly on message boards — are almost entirely hearsay. Not even anecdotes, but second-hand anecdotes.

Most of them depend on you to have an extensive social network of professionals (such as a career professional would have), or else depend on you being extremely mobile and liberal with your time and spending money ("invite contacts out for coffee lunches! attend professional events!").

It may work in a small handful of those large, densely-packed, high-cost-of-living cities full of professionals in your chosen field, where you can just run out to chat with someone in the next-door building over a coffee break. It works less well if you're broke, and you have to drive in your rattletrap somewhere 45 minutes away to offer someone a desultory coffee, and then repeat that ten times.
posted by Nomyte at 2:46 PM on May 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Gauche:

He also spent some time -- and people have referenced it in-thread, I don't know how you've missed it -- talking about not being able to get even a service-type job.

Yes, he talked of working in finance and he talked of - in desperation - working in coffee shops. That is, he can think only of being a well-paid whore or a poorly paid whore. There is nothing else! He is not good enough enough for one and too good for the other.

(I have been a whore before, as have you no doubt, but I am sure that is not all we could think of.)

What would you have him do that he's not doing?

I would have him not blame his failures and his perfidiousness on this age. I would encourage him not to talk of the times, blinded as he is by his whore-goggles. I would have him be less of a dick.
posted by cincinnatus c at 2:51 PM on May 17, 2012


one thing American readers of this thread may not get is just how much more costly it is to live in Canada than the States.

As an American living in Canada, this is not my experience. Except for consumer goods like clothes (which I don't buy frequently). And the house thing, but that's a trade off I'm willing to make at this point (and is probably going to moderate in the nearish future.)
posted by junco at 2:55 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really not trying to provoke here, but...

Is there a way you could phrase that without the misogyny? Actually, is there a way you could phrase it without using the term "dick" either? Because all I can tell is that you don't like this guy -- and that's fine, that's totally your right -- but I don't really understand what specific actions you think he could take that he's not taking, and your choice of language is kind of distracting me.
posted by gauche at 2:56 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but paying a $2000 mortgage each month kind of eats into your salary.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:57 PM on May 17, 2012


It's not the decade, it's the attitude.

I was ignoring the author of the blog in favor of just talking basic economics. I like to have conversations on economic reality and the word "privilege" and while that can happen here they so often get started with a blog post from someone whose level of self awareness is less than what we need for a good intellectual conversation, and it just turns into a pile on of the "look at this icky privileged douche, haha" variety.
posted by MillMan at 2:59 PM on May 17, 2012


Also -- without taking a position on sex work specifically -- I have friends who have worked in coffee shops, and I understand it to be honest work.
posted by gauche at 3:00 PM on May 17, 2012


. Simply put: I expect very little from life, and my expectations have been met, and then some.

You know, I once heard a folk musician - back in the early days of the financial crisis - sing a song he'd written himself about how, now that we were all becoming impoverished, we would know virtue, because we'd "grow closer together". Unlike those awful rich people with the healthcare and the cars and so on, whose lives were mere shells. (I think he felt that being able to see the doctor as needed was akin to being born a Kardashian). I did not heckle him because that would have been rude and he seemed like a shrinking violet, but I did make sarcastic remarks to everyone around me.

The further the financial crisis goes and the more the liberal/bougie norm seems to be "you are so entitled because you don't want to be miserable, now knock it off", the more I want to stand up and cheer for entitlement, for the people who want to be able to stop work at 65 and eat something better than dog food, for the people who don't want to work at a call center for $12/hour, for the people who would, yes, like vacations and new bikes and weekends and nice food and living situations that are reasonably pleasant. If a little bit of entitlement is what we need to get some goddamn social reform in this country, then hands up for entitlement is what I say.

Also, this Uriah Heepish "I know that I live better than [a brickmaker in Bhopal or maybe a refugee in war-torn Uganda] so I am 'umbly grateful for my semi-rotted Aldi's produce" routine that creeps into the conversation from time to time strikes me as a total canard. It's either something people pacify themselves with so they won't have the stress of resentment and despair or it's something they trot out only to browbeat others who are being just awful and demanding, like, enough spare change to go to dinner and a movie every few weeks.
posted by Frowner at 3:00 PM on May 17, 2012 [35 favorites]


And I concur. The "strategies" these books suggest — and which are echoed endlessly on message boards — are almost entirely hearsay. Not even anecdotes, but second-hand anecdotes.

The book worked for me. However, networking is just a small part of What Color is Your Parachute. The bulk of the book really focuses on self-actualization and determining what you want to do, and who will pay you to do it. But it's not a quick or easy path to finding a career.

With What Color Is Your Parachute in particular, the book relies heavily on a good dollop of Faith In A Higher Power (ideally Jesus Christ). There is a plan for each and every one of us etc, and if we just keep on keeping on, things will work out in the end.

Words to live by, I suppose, unless you're a single parent working in an Amazon warehouse.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:01 PM on May 17, 2012


One thing I forgot to mention is that I'm finding nearly impossible to secure the part-time employment that might enable me to improve my lot. I'm looking for entry-level service jobs, evenings and weekends. No one wants to hire a middle-aged student for these jobs when there are plenty of shiny young people to take them. The kiss of death is "Thank you for your resume..................ma'am." You know they won't be calling. And yeah, 36K a year.....a new pair of shoes won't mean you're not able to pay your utility bill then. There were plenty of years in the '90s when we were supporting a family of four on less than that.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 3:03 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like I could almost buy the world with 36k!

You haven't looked recently at housing prices are in Toronto or Vancouver, or even Canada as a whole, I see.

And good luck getting a mortgage, or even finding a decent apartment to rent, if all that's available is short-term contract work.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:04 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, as the financial crisis deepens and folks are all "you are so entitled because you don't want to slave over a deep-fryer and sweep mouse shit all day like I did", it's worth remembering that the rich are still getting richer. We are getting poorer precisely so that they can keep getting bonuses and raises and fancy benefits and stock options, so that the market keeps doing well, so that they can keep cheating people out of their houses and rooking them with dishonest education loans.

If I have to shovel mouse shit because that's the only way to bring the revolution, you can hand me the shovel. But I refuse to commit to a lifetime of mouse-droppings merely so that someone at Goldman Sachs can make his bonus for unionbusting or pension-looting or whatever they're doing. And if I'm forced to take the mouse crap route to enrich the elites, damn straight I'm going to complain about it to anyone who will listen.
posted by Frowner at 3:06 PM on May 17, 2012 [31 favorites]


And I add that I graduated right into the "downsize this!" nineties, before the boom. Things are way harder now. Those were the days of Temp Slave, but at least there was temp work, usually as much of it as you could do.
posted by Frowner at 3:09 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


On LinkedIn I'm connections with a powerful "deputy minister", who heads one of the ministries here in BC. He's in his late 50s, and makes $400k a year.

Lately he's been posting ridiculous LinkedIn updates about how kids these days don't want to work, and back when he was in his 20s he worked 2 jobs etc etc to make ends meet.

He's also been one of the architects of the movement over the past 10 years to reduce the size of provincial government from 30,000 to 25,000, with more cuts to come (there is no good reason to reduce the civil service except that the bastards who run this province are neo-cons).

He's essentially responsible in part for reducing the number employment opportunities for young people.

So he makes $400k a year, he's slashing away, and he's also frighteningly out of touch - he seems to think it's the Gen Xers who are supposed to be complaining about the lack of job opportunities, when really the people who are getting squeezed are the Millennials.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:13 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Frowner, it's not like I'm in disagreement with anything you've typed, I'm well aware that the polarization is increasing, I've spent many, many hours on my internet radio show, talking about what I feel are the hard realities of the increasing disparity between the wealthy and everyone else. I did indeed shovel mouse shit, and a lot worse, and I also worked for George Lucas, and lots in between. I'm currently a lecturer at a major Ivy-league school, barely scraping by, desperate for more hours, fighting for everything I can get, which ain't much, including no health insurance, which is a problem, as I have a chronic, serious illness and very little coverage. And I'm doing my part complaining, so what are you bitching at me for? :-)
posted by dbiedny at 3:13 PM on May 17, 2012


I was watching "She's having a baby" the other night. In one scene Kevin Bacon is getting an interview and it's revealed that he faked everything on his resume. The interviewer remarks that he "must really want to work there" and then hires him.

I had to turn the TV off at that point, because I wanted to barf.
posted by hellojed at 3:18 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I'm doing my part complaining, so what are you bitching at me for? :-)

Perhaps there was some confusion about tone and timing in our comments - your first one really did sound (at least appearing as it did at that point in the conversation) as if you were saying that since you'd done unpleasant jobs and were struggling financially, this guy was a whiner for not wanting to do them (rather than for other reasons, ie the Gordon Gecko thing).

I do not, personally, care for mouse shit, of which I've cleaned a great deal in various lodgings. Yucko. Mice are very pretty and cute (their tiny grey paws!), but they would be so much nicer if they were litterbox trainable.
posted by Frowner at 3:19 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a way you could phrase that without the misogyny?

Ha! I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and say this is a US/UK thing. I understand you're kind of squeamish about language - and status! - but "whore" can be adequately applied, rhetorically, at least in the UK, to people who do what they don't want to do for money. I did say that I have, in this sense, been a whore! I assumed that you had too. No?

Also -- without taking a position on sex work specifically -- I have friends who have worked in coffee shops, and I understand it to be honest work.

This is so slow and bizarre I can barely read it.
posted by cincinnatus c at 3:19 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dear god do I hate the phrases "pound the pavement" and "just put yourself out there".
posted by book 'em dano at 3:20 PM on May 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Some whores do what they want to do, for money. So its use as a rhetorical term seems limited.
posted by muddgirl at 3:21 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The author of this article should get with the Harvard MBA who paid off $101K in student debt for a "most inexplicably hated by MeFi" party.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:25 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In one scene Kevin Bacon is getting an interview and it's revealed that he faked everything on his resume.

Oh, you mean like Metafilter favorite Aleksey Vayner?
posted by Nomyte at 3:29 PM on May 17, 2012


Yeah, the term seems ... evaluative, to me. But that aside: I still don't understand your point. He's willing to do what he doesn't want to do (i.e., work) for little money, although he'd rather do what he doesn't want to do (again, work) for a lot of money. Forgive me the limitations of my thinking, but don't those sort of run the gamut of ways to live, for most of us who don't have some kind of enjoyable talent that people are willing to pay us to use?

I mean, other than going on the dole and living on the streets, or becoming a freegan, I'm not sure what you think he ought to be doing. "I have expensive tastes and I'm willing to work to pay for them" does not cover anybody in glory, but it's also not exactly a statement of entitlement either.
posted by gauche at 3:31 PM on May 17, 2012


I mean, other than going on the dole and living on the streets, or becoming a freegan, I'm not sure what you think he ought to be doing. "I have expensive tastes and I'm willing to work to pay for them" does not cover anybody in glory, but it's also not exactly a statement of entitlement either.

The thing is, since he can't get a job in his chosen industry, the financial services sector, he admits he's cobbled together a career doing things he likes, earning $36,000 a year. It ain't great, but it could be worse, and he still has time to figure out how to earn the income he desires.

And yes, if you complain about not owning that BMW or being in a position of power by age 30, you are most certainly demonstrating a sense of entitlement.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:34 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read most, but not all the comments above, so forgive me if this is redundant...
Economic factors notwithstanding, there are many other factors that could be influencing outcomes for this fellow: maybe he's just not an appealing prospect. Maybe he's got the degree but not the personality. Maybe he smells bad. Maybe his cover letters are poorly written and signed in crayon. Maybe he has a tattoo of Satan on his forehead. His I've-tried-so-hard-yet-no-one-will-hire-me schtick makes me wonder.
posted by ecorrocio at 3:37 PM on May 17, 2012


And yes, if you complain about not owning that BMW or being in a position of power by age 30, you are most certainly demonstrating a sense of entitlement.

Yeah. I think a lot of us doubt that what he wants (to wit: "65 hour weeks in a high pressure corporate environment. I wanted the tailored suits, the chance at a high income, the BMW, the prestige, the respect, and the power") constitutes "work" in any meaningful sense of the term.
posted by junco at 3:38 PM on May 17, 2012


Especially at a time when most of those things are looking increasingly globally unsustainable.
posted by junco at 3:39 PM on May 17, 2012


Regarding $36K/yr:

In BC, that equates to about $26K after tax and health insurance premiums (paid to the province, since we have single payer here, but this is a very regressive tax for people making just over 28K, which is the cutoff for premium assistance). Renting a room in a run-down rental house in the suburbs will cost about $500. Fresh produce is expensive in Canada, so eating a remotely healthy diet vegetarian diet is at least $200 per month. $500 is about your minimum payment on $45K in student debt. A bus pass is $150/month. A no-frills cell bill will run you another $50. Sharing gas, hydro, internet, toilet paper, other shared items with your roommates costs another $150.

Congrats, you're living frugally, spend 40hrs per week working, plus 20hrs on the bus and have $450/mo left. You shop at thrift stores, so keeping a closet of non-ratty clothes and a kitchen with basic cookware and tableware doesn't cost you more than $100 per month, once averaged out. You put $200 per month into building a cushion so you don't default on your student loans if you lose your job.

Now you're left with $150 per month to spend on luxuries like going out with friends. You sip $4 beer in dive bars where your friend's band has you on the guest list.

You think you're doing okay, and you plan to have your student loans paid off before you're 40, but your parents call you lazy because you seem satisfied in a dead end job and renting a place with a bunch of roommates. Your boomer relatives are constantly asking you when you plan to grow up.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:42 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


And yes, if you complain about not owning that BMW or being in a position of power by age 30, you are most certainly demonstrating a sense of entitlement.

See, I didn't get that out of what he said. How I took it was that he was willing to work up to being in a position where he could afford a BMW and a not-tiny house by putting in his dues, except that there do not appear to be dues-putting-in positions despite his best efforts. Is it your position that any time somebody expresses their disappointment that, for reasons outside of themselves, they are not living a kind of life that they would be willing to work for, they are expressing their entitlement?

Yeah. I think a lot of us doubt that what he wants (to wit: "65 hour weeks in a high pressure corporate environment. I wanted the tailored suits, the chance at a high income, the BMW, the prestige, the respect, and the power") constitutes "work" in any meaningful sense of the term.

I'm not sure that's relevant. Whether this guy's chosen career path meets your definition of "work" or not, there are people who do what he's talking about and are compensated for it, and he is trying to be one of them.
posted by gauche at 3:43 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I keep saying it, but the issue is not that he won't be rewarded for hard work, it's that the job he trained for does not exist. And he doesn't want to consider a different job.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:49 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, my math above doesn't make sense. I changed the food budget from $350 to $200 because I decided that meat, fish and cheese should count as luxuries.

So, if you forego those things, you can spend that extra $150 on booze, paying down your loans in 5 years instead of 10, or cutting your commute to 1hr each way.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:49 PM on May 17, 2012


This whole thread reminds me of that Monty Python skit about living in a cardboard box in the middle of the road.
posted by troll on a pony at 3:51 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


there are people who do what he's talking about and are compensated for it

And that (assuming he does indeed want to work in the financial services sector) is a major source of the very problems being discussed ad infinitum in this thread.
posted by junco at 3:52 PM on May 17, 2012



Yes, how dare someone in his 20s want to make his mark on the world? Everyone here wants to be an anonymous nobody.


it's been my experience that anyone who openly covets money as career objective is more apt to make a stain on the world than a mark.
posted by any major dude at 3:55 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


He and his wife did at one point own a rather nice place. His wife still does, but with the guy she's with now that her lawyers are finally done with my friend through the divorce process.

I am sure the misogyny will help that job search!
So now it's "Misogynistic" to complain about a raw deal in a divorce?
posted by delmoi at 3:57 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's been my experience that anyone who openly covets money as career objective is more apt to make a stain on the world than a mark.
Obviously you've never met any poor people.
posted by delmoi at 3:58 PM on May 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


He and his wife did at one point own a rather nice place. His wife still does, but with the guy she's with now that her lawyers are finally done with my friend through the divorce process.

I am sure the misogyny will help that job search!


I don't understand what is misogynist about the above statement. Even with it saying the dude was "raped" in the divorce process, I see no misogyny.

Please explain this to me.
posted by reenum at 4:03 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did indeed shovel mouse shit, and a lot worse, and I also worked for George Lucas,

I first read this as "I did indeed shovel mouse shit, and a lot worse: I also worked for George Lucas." I got quite a giggle out of this.
posted by naoko at 4:10 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi, If you consider covet and need interchangeable I can see how you misunderstand my point. I chose my words carefully, covet has a specific connotation. Poor people who covet make stains as well.
posted by any major dude at 4:11 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I have to shovel mouse shit because that's the only way to bring the revolution, you can hand me the shovel. But I refuse to commit to a lifetime of mouse-droppings merely so that someone at Goldman Sachs can make his bonus for unionbusting or pension-looting or whatever they're doing. And if I'm forced to take the mouse crap route to enrich the elites, damn straight I'm going to complain about it to anyone who will listen.
You might not think there is a causal relationship between shitty jobs and wall-street bonuses, but actually there is.

Let's take Amazon for an example. They're well known to have shitty working conditions in their warehouses, right? The thing is wallstreet has been putting pressure on Amazon to increase it's profit margins, because in their view Amazon, despite the fact it's a massive company that provides tons of jobs and great service to people isn't extracting enough money and giving it to them. So one way to increase profits is to clamp down on employees, making them work longer hours for less pay and benefits.

So, without this wallstreet pressure, it's possible that AMZN's warehouses would be much nicer places to work. Especially if there were a countervailing pressure like customer sentiment that went along with it. The same is true of any company that has low level employees like this who are treated like crap.

posted by delmoi at 4:12 PM on May 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


One can either take a job or make a job. If too many people are looking for jobs, and not enough are making jobs, jobs will be hard to find.

There's a huge demand for entrepreneurship. Friends are leaving behind great jobs -- £100k+ -- to take £10k a quarter sustenance to roll the dice. There have been few better times to give it a go, simply because the demand for new companies is so high.*

It's hard. It's a slog. But it feels as good -- if not better -- to write pay checks as to be given one.

When I was a kid. Snow. Uphill. Both ways. Life's always been tough. Life is supposed to be tough. Anything worth doing is going to be challenging. And it's never been easier to start a business. In all that time of doing those dead-end jobs, Youth could have a thriving business! Or at least a few failures that would be of value to someone.

You can either get a job or make a job. It's frustrating not being able to get a job, but for every job there is to be filled, someone else has MADE that job.

Youth of Canada. I understand you are dis-satisfied with your very reasonable short-term contract wages of $36k. Whilst the majority of the world would rejoice at that amount of money, I understand how you cannot live like a Kardashian, and how disappointing that must be for you. Also, it must be so painful to have free time to explore the world between contracts. Many assembly line workers in developing nations feel your pain from the inverse side. They have been doing the same thing forever, the same specific task for 5 years straight. They might be horrified by your freedom to do different thinks. Or jealous of it. Or they may think you are a proper twit for your arrogance and self-importance.

So, yes, you need a greater salary. You need a job. But so do most other people. Maybe instead of asking "who is going to give me a job", the question should be, "how can I employ other people like me". And if you cannot think of answer to that question, that very well may be the answer as to why you cannot find a job.

Good luck and godspeed. Because living on $36k sounds like absolute torture. You poor thing.
posted by nickrussell at 4:25 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The author of this article should get with the Harvard MBA who paid off $101K in student debt for a "most inexplicably hated by MeFi" party.

A few days ago, I thought, "Wow, Metafilter really hates Eduardo Saverin. But he's really rich, and Metafilter hates rich people."

Then yesterday I thought, "Wow, Metafilter really hates this guy who made big lifestyle changes for a year so he could pay off all his student loan debt. But, he's a lot richer than most people, and Metafilter hates rich people."

But now I understand that Metafilter reserves a special brand of hate for people who aren't rich, and probably will never be, but dream about getting married, dressing nice, and driving a BMW.





(Actually, I get it, Metafilter doesn't like privilege or greed and all three of these people can be seen to be in one of those two categories.)
posted by MoonOrb at 4:29 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Working for the Lucas empire gave me enough stories for the rest of eternity. And I get to hang with some amazingly cool, smart, talented people, and spend time at the Ranch - it's amazing what kind of Victorian mansion you can buy for $60 million. I also got to experience the sheer amount of sweat, effort, money, talent and time that is spent on manufacturing illusion and distractions. The amount of dirty I felt working on Hudson Hawk was about equivalent to sweeping up the back room for the piece of shit, scumbag fashion "designer" not so many years prior to the ILM experience. The trappings were different, as was the pay, but the lessons learned - those were priceless in both situations.
posted by dbiedny at 4:31 PM on May 17, 2012


But now I understand that Metafilter reserves a special brand of hate for people who aren't rich, and probably will never be, but dream about getting married, dressing nice, and driving a BMW.

Have you fucking BMW, and your fucking suit, and your fucking power over other people, but don't fucking whine because you were too dumb to study the right thing to get you there, and refuse to contemplate other ways of achieving your goal beside sending out resumes.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:33 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can either get a job or make a job. It's frustrating not being able to get a job, but for every job there is to be filled, someone else has MADE that job.
...
Maybe instead of asking "who is going to give me a job", the question should be, "how can I employ other people like me". And if you cannot think of answer to that question, that very well may be the answer as to why you cannot find a job.


This is not how jobs are created in any economy that does not involve five-year plans.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:56 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Economic factors notwithstanding, there are many other factors that could be influencing outcomes for this fellow: maybe he's just not an appealing prospect. Maybe he's got the degree but not the personality. Maybe he smells bad. Maybe his cover letters are poorly written and signed in crayon. Maybe he has a tattoo of Satan on his forehead. His I've-tried-so-hard-yet-no-one-will-hire-me schtick makes me wonder.

I imagine the same personality that comes out in his writing and seems to annoy quite a few people in this thread also comes out in his interviews.
It's a fair bet to say a lot of people in this thread wouldn't hire him.
posted by madajb at 5:09 PM on May 17, 2012


Sure let me start a business with savings I don't have. This guy's attitude is not the best and he admits to desires most people wouldn't say publicly. Every job that I've applied to so far has said they've been inundated with resumes and had to conduct lotteries. Will things get better? Will I have a future? Sure, when? Who knows. I do know that I'm barely going to be making a life for myself for a long time. I might have to live with my parents until i'm 30. Or go into debt to afford renting in a metropolitan area. Any hope for affording health insurance is a dream. I just pray every day I don't get hurt or in a car accident. I'm tired of hearing that I just don't want a job enough or that I'm not applying to the right jobs.

I wish he had made a better less whiny case so the facts of how difficult it is now would be evaluated and not his attitude.
posted by andendau at 5:16 PM on May 17, 2012


I think what people are missing about TFA is not so much that the guy is kind of a dick, which he obviously is, but that he is a dick because he was promised a certain path, he prepared for that path, he has put out 120% and is willing to keep doing so, and the door has been slammed in his face.

OK, maybe it was a dickish path anyway, but that doesn't make what has happened to him right.

What this is is something that started in the 1980's with midlevel white-collar technical people like engineers and geophysicists having the social contract shredded for them. I was raised to understand that if I got my degree, applied for and won a certain kind of job, I'd be employed for life and retire comfortably. Like my father did. In the field I was interested in that had become a lie by 1980. It was obvious enough that when I had a blow up with my parents (over this as well as other things) and had to drop out of college I never bothered going back. At least in that day I didn't exit with a debt comparable to the cost of a house on top of several wasted years and a pile of useless college credits.

Over the last 30 years this trend has infected the entire corporate world; this is a large subset of Dilbert comic strips. Now it's affecting even people who went to school with the children of, and thought they could aspire to join, the so-called Masters of the Universe. Just like no comfortable retirement for my generation of would-be engineers, they are finding the path blocked just as they have reached the point of no return committing to it.

Yeah, the guy is a dick. But his betrayal is just the final wrapping of a process that's been going on my entire adult life. I'd be happy to let him have his BMW if I could have had my comfy career and assured retirement. Fortunately I saw the future a little better than he did.

I'd brag on how I bested the system myself but most of what I actually did instead isn't possible any more, either. It's pretty much sucked harder every year to be young since my own youth. Fortunately I saw this coming too and didn't have kids. Not only have I spared my potential offspring this betrayal, they won't be living on my porch for the rest of my life.
posted by localroger at 5:19 PM on May 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's funny to me hownthe tune hasnchanged all of a sudden. Back when this guy was a kid, everybody was telling him how he can be as successful as he wants if only he works and studies hard, gets this and that degree -- gets with the program, in other words. Now though, once he's done all of those things, he's suddenly a priviledged misogynistic, materialistic, power hungru asshole who needs to eat shit for a while while volunteering at soup kitchens and thaanking the lord and the stars that he's living better than Depression-era farmers or ethiopeans. I think that's a pretty shitty and short sighted thing to do. The way things are going, pretty soon there will be a lot more of people like him (like us, really) than you old wise folks (I'm being very generous with the last two words here). You're already getting fucked over In so many ways, it would be pretty dumb to antagonise much younger, stronger cohort that you expect to pay for your Depends and wheelchairs.
posted by c13 at 5:19 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sorry you feel that way, 29 year old. And telling you how shitty my life was at 29 would do no good, because it was then, and you are the NOW.
So, I am not going to waste each others time. Good luck to you, though, I am going to enjoy my NOW time.
posted by Senator at 5:23 PM on May 17, 2012


BozoBurgerBonanza: "It's not 1929, or the 30's or 1939-1945 either."

You say that, but the stats do not compare very favorably.
posted by wierdo at 5:25 PM on May 17, 2012


Reading this article and comments was a shock to me - it's easy to forget these things.

I've just have several friends quit their jobs, even 100k per year jobs, in their late 20s and early 30s, because the prevailing view is that money isn't as important as chasing their dreams. Of course money isn't important to you when you know that you have access to enough money to last you a lifetime without working. Their view is something along the lines that working 5 days a week isn't worth it if it's only pulling in $100k: it would need to be $200k or $300k to make it worth their time. So they rather not work. Of course, this is because they're comparing themselves to other people in their social circle who're pulling in even more money.

And as you do, when friends tell you these things, you make sympathetic noises and say you support their decision, and you kind of believe it yourself after awhile.

So yeah, this article, and the comments after, definitely gave me some pause. Maybe I need to forward this article to them.

Or maybe this is for the best, since it opens up those positions for other people who really needed those jobs...
posted by xdvesper at 5:34 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


but don't fucking whine because you were too dumb to study the right thing to get you there, and refuse to contemplate other ways of achieving your goal beside sending out resumes.

His plight is shared by a huge number of graduates suckered into the four-year college and loans game, thinking that it's the path to stable white collar professional existence. The traditional meritocratic career to suburban prosperity has changed. It's not his fault that everything he's been taught is fast becoming a lie.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:54 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not only have I spared my potential offspring this betrayal, they won't be living on my porch for the rest of my life.

But you don't get to have kids. The amazing mind bending wonder of children. And more prosaically you have brought thousands of years of evolution to a grinding halt, your ancestors fought through war, famine, poverty, immigration, tribal violence, ecological upheaval and all sorts of other thing for millennia before there was money, electricity, science, medicine, justice, careers, pensions of college. Their lives were solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. We're living the dream every day compared to our ancestors. You're going to be the full stop to thousands of years of others striving to survive because you suspect the future won't be just as comfortable as you would like. By all means don't have kids, maybe you like your own company or having money, fair enough but don't not have kids because you think the world is too tough for them or they won't has as super a life as you've get to have. Remember, things have in general been getting better, for hundreds of years.
posted by Damienmce at 5:59 PM on May 17, 2012


My parents were in their early thirties when I was born. They had shit. By this guy's standards, they were fuck ups. I never bothered to figure it out, but if we weren't at the federal poverty line in the 80s, we were close to it.

By the 90s, when I was old enough to notice such things, I never lacked for anything. I went to a good high school and lived in a decent house. By my mid-teens, I had gone from rentals of on the verge of being condemned to a rancher on a half acre lot. All of which, for my parents, was after this person's "life deadline" of 30. Say whatever you want about my parents (and there is plenty to say) but being thirty never stopped them from doing the best for their family.
posted by spaltavian at 6:15 PM on May 17, 2012


It's not his fault that everything he's been taught is fast becoming a lie.

Well, speaking from experience, I can tell you that for most people, earning lots of money means more than just working hard, it means working smart. It takes a little more to earn that BMW than an undergrad degree and a willingness to work 65 hours a week and sending out resumes.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:21 PM on May 17, 2012


We're living the dream every day compared to our ancestors.

I think it depends on which ancestors. My peasant farmer ancestors tilling the rocky hills of Scane, or my other peasant farmer ancestors trying to avoid getting conscripted into the Prussian imperial project, yeah. But my friend's Dakota ancestors? While my mid-European great-great-great-greats were slogging it out in 1810 or so, my friend's Dakota ancestors were living a pretty sweet life here in not-yet-colonized Minnesota. If you go back far enough, even my distant, distant ancestors were probably fairly happy before serious agriculture took off. A lot of those pre-agricultural societies weren't too bad (some of them were awful). While there weren't antibiotics, there seems to have been a lot less cancer, and while childbirth was dangerous you also didn't get the puerpal fevers that raised the mortality rate so high in early industrial Europe (giving a false sense, IMO, of how much doctors have done to improve the average birth). And people in most non-agricultural or light-agricultural societies had a lot of free time for games, art and stories. Many of those societies were less cruel and far less hierarchical than most modern industrial societies, and had far less war. (I'm not counting early empires like the Maya, who were a very different story.) Remember that when the Europeans arrived in the Americas they were astonished (and kind of scared) by how tall and strong and healthy many of the Native people they encountered were.Of course, we all know how that turned out in the end. (If you see someone living freely who isn't afraid of you, take their stuff and smash them!)

Sometimes I get pretty depressed thinking that maybe those light-on-the-land ways of life really were the best that humans could do, and they couldn't resist either internal development (Maya, Aztecs, the bigger and more built-up priest-dominated societies in N. America) or colonization by a bunch of lousy Europeans.

I'm not really into all this "anti-civilization" stuff - that particular genie is long out of that particular bottle. But when I think about how we live today, I find it useful to remember that we aren't really living the eternal human dream - we're just living the dream of my immiserated, exploited peasant ancestors.
posted by Frowner at 6:48 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is definitely hyperbole, but there's a kernel of truth to this. It is harder out there for young people than it was for our parents. I don't have it so bad but I'm 30 years old and have a job that pays a decent wage, though I have very basic benefits and no paid time off of any kind and thanks to my blackberry I'm effectively on call nearly 24 hours a day. I live with a roommate in a cheap apartment. I don't have a car. I keep my expenses low and manage to save a good amount of my salary every year but buying a home is still a fairly long way away. Just by virtue of not being in debt I know I'm one of the lucky ones, but if I look at the world that was there before there's no question that economically speaking things are worse me.

My parents at a little over 30 able to have two cars a house and two kids. My mom was able to be a stay at home mom for much of my childhood. My father worked a literal 9 to 5. I work about 55 hours a week.

The fact is my parents didn't have the same advantages that I had. My father had to work hard to put himself through college where it was something that I could take for granted. I'm thankful for their responsibility and foresight. Unfortunately that matters less than the way that the world has changed.
posted by I Foody at 6:50 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Once again, it is established that in its tastes and sensibilities, the average Mefite is fundamentally middlebrow. We like people who strive to be as we are, and react with vitriol to people who aspire for anything more or anything different. Cut down the tall poppy. It happens in threads on jobs, or incomes, or poverty, or education, or art, or cinema, or anything else, really.
posted by Nomyte at 6:59 PM on May 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well, speaking from experience, I can tell you that for most people, earning lots of money means more than just working hard, it means working smart. It takes a little more to earn that BMW than an undergrad degree and a willingness to work 65 hours a week and sending out resumes.

What the fuck are you talking about? How are your platitudes about "working hard" relevant for someone that CAN'T GET A JOB HE HAS TRAINED FOR, and therefore can't work at all, smart or otherwise? Where in the article does it say he expected to get a Boomer and a million bucks a week after graduation?
posted by c13 at 7:19 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The guy wants to work in finance. Doing what? Answering the phone? I don't think so. One of the reasons why the starting pay is high is because, theoretically at least, the people doing the jobs are expected to add significant value to the operation. They do this by using their brains. And if you can't use your brain to figure out another way to make money, maybe you were never meant to be in finance at all.

I don't begrudge the guy's wanting to have a suit and a BMW (although I do find it deeply offensive that he wants power and control, but apparently that's very PC of me, so whatever), but I do begrudge a supposed capitalist moaning about how there are no opportunities. Give me a break.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:30 PM on May 17, 2012


They do this by using their brains. And if you can't use your brain to figure out another way to make money

Are you seriously building a rhetorical argument on what appears to be a pun? Because bravo.
posted by Nomyte at 7:39 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, this thread is appalling. I get that this guy sounds a little snarky, I get that his path is not what you (or I) would have chosen, but he still gets to be a person. He sounds like someone who has worked hard and wants to continue to work hard.

Is it just his career you all don't like, that's what means he can't be a person to you anymore? MeFi only has solidarity with people in the right careers? Whether or not you like his chosen career or attitude, let's try sticking together rather fighting for scraps. That 99% stuff seemed rather popular around here, as I recall, and I realize this guy may have been aiming to be in the 1%, but regardless of who he is or what his aspirations are, I support improving his family, living, and retirement situation right now because we are one and the same, we don't have to be friends but we are the 99%.

I've never wanted to rant like this on MeFi before, but this whole response is really disappointing.
posted by lillygog at 7:55 PM on May 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


Give me a break.

But that's not what he's complaining about. He's complaining about the fact that the career he's been training for, the one that everyone told him will make him achieve whatever his goals are, is unavailable to him. It does not matter in the least that there are other opportunities. He basically got fucked over. He may or may not reach his goals in some other way, but that's in the future, and since you don't know anymore about the guy that what you've read (I'm not even going to make any guesses on how much you comprehended), I don't see how you can make any judgment on how much brain this guy has.
All that aside, it is amusing that a guy pretending to share his wisdom about life based on an article he half read on the internet cannot see the forest for the trees and realize that this is just one voice out of thousands and thousands of people with similar stories. That for every power hungry BMW-wanting dickhead there are others with much more "noble" aspirations who are being shut out of careers they've been training for. Yes, most of them (us) will manage, but it does not change the fact that they've been swindled.
They have been told all their lives that the only path to success is getting an education. And after they've gone out and worked their asses off and got into debt to get this education, they've been told (often by the same people, with the same smart look on their faces) that there other ways to make it in the world and anyways, one shouldn't expect a decent life and should be thankful he's not an ethiopian.
posted by c13 at 8:05 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


But you don't get to have kids. The amazing mind bending wonder of children.

I remember being a child. Yeah there were great moments. There was also the fact that my parents had no secrets because they had, well, one of those smart kids. I vividly remember the day they decided to avoid The Talk by buying me a book. They also bought a book for themselves about how to deal with me. After I read the book they bought for me I found and read the book they bought for themselves.

And more prosaically you have brought thousands of years of evolution to a grinding halt

What I am isn't heritable. I am quite certain of this because I am nothing like any of my ancestors, all of whom are mouth-breathing redneck assholes. OTOH my parents wanted me to improve my station so they paid a lot to send me to a wonderful (Catholic LOL) school, which by contrast showed me the futility of all authoritarian religious systems by showing me their own.

but don't not have kids because you think the world is too tough for them or they won't has as super a life as you've get to have. Remember, things have in general been getting better, for hundreds of years.

I didn't have kids because the world is full of lies and I don't like lying to poeple. And things have not been getting better, they have been oscillating wildly for several hundred years and since a high point in the 1970's in the US getting very noticeably worse to the point a catastrophe might be in our future. There is no shortage of people willing to take responsibility for introducing more people into this world. At this point (this point being the last forty years or so) I will not be responsible for the consequences of being one of them. On the occasions when I'm reminded that there are joys in parenthood, I remind myself that mine was the responsible choice.
posted by localroger at 8:20 PM on May 17, 2012


(I'm not even going to make any guesses on how much you comprehended),

No need to be snotty, pal. Try to imagine we're discussing this in person over drinks at a MeFi meetup.

But that's not what he's complaining about. He's complaining about the fact that the career he's been training for, the one that everyone told him will make him achieve whatever his goals are, is unavailable to him. It does not matter in the least that there are other opportunities. He basically got fucked over.

Well, that's the way it goes sometimes. Besides, he's making an okay salary (not the greatest, I will admit) in a place with a climbing wall and a dog and a Slurpee machine or whatever.

I guess the reason why I'm not going to let it go is because the same thing happened to me. I got an education degree (it was my second degree; I went back to school 5 years after getting my first degree, in creative writing of all things), and I took out loans to get it.

The program staff all "promised" us that we would have teaching jobs when we graduated - it was inevitable, given the retirement demographics.

So, I graduated, and couldn't find a teaching job here, and went back to Japan. I found work, then opened my own school and became a translator. I was self employed.

I came back to Canada 5 years later, still no teaching jobs. I had to switch careers. It's pretty hard to do when you have no local experience, plus two useless degrees in creative writing and education.

On top of all that, I had a family to support, with bills to pay. In Victoria, where it's very expensive, and there are a lot of people with education and creative writing degrees.

I have no idea why I am supposed to be more privileged than Mr. BMW here.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:30 PM on May 17, 2012


The 36k thing seemed like hyperbole to me-- earlier he talks about how he can't get hired by starbucks. If he's already making 36k, seems as though starbucks would be a step down, no?

Anyway, I realize he's not the most sympathetic narrator, but y'all seem to be kind of missing the point and taking the easy way out by focusing on that number (surprise, surprise).

His main point is how changes in the job market and hiring ettiquette have made it especially sucky to be looking for entry-level work right now. It stacks up to my experience in the non-corporate world. I had a friend who interviewed at an office and they had her around the office for three days and then didn't even bother to call her to tell her that she didn't get the job. I did two interviews for a job last year, never heard back and assumed I was no longer being considered and two months later got an email saying I was on the waiting list and to please email if I was no longer interested (incidentally, this was a position that paid <20k a year-- they got 1700 applicants for 50 spots). "Entry level" positions require a couple years of experience. The two jobs I've had since getting out of school a year ago have both been contract positions, which means the job search never really ends.

And to add insult to injury, instead of middle aged people simply acknowledging that it is a bad time to graduate from college, I have to listen to people talk about what they made in 1990 as if it has any applicability to me whatsoever.
posted by geegollygosh at 8:39 PM on May 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Not sure how many people here plan on telling their kids to expect to spend their lives making shit wages unless they get lucky and brand them as shit for brains narcissists when they have to come in contact with reality instead of the career they'd spent time figuring out what color parachute they had.

I don't know why he didn't have a backup plan. We really just need to encourage kids to look beyond their half cobbled ideas of what work and building a career mean before it completely stalls them. It's rough stuff to be in a period of false starts when life seems to be working out for everyone else. It gets depressing, and only does the having of experiences does a person develop the grit necessary to get through them stronger.

I don't care what happens to this guy, but I'm a career changer at 31 and my 20s were a breakdown of expectations and hopes. Maybe I was too optimistic and inexperienced, and I never expected to be a financial analyst but I naively expected a meritocracy and reward system based on hard work and success and intelligence, and instead I learned that building loyalties and friendships were crucial to getting yours. I'm okay with it and thank goodness I learned it. It's going to be a big help in this next step and I'm making it work for me.

If this guy doesn't make the leap soon and just ends up roiling in self pity instead of changing his game, then he'll not have even learned a smidge of what people can learn through shattered expectations.
posted by discopolo at 8:42 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess the reason why I'm not going to let it go is because the same thing happened to me.

So if you were both screwed by structural economic problems, it doesn't make sense to me that you would push back against this person because you didn't like their career or their tone or whatever. In my eyes, you cause is much more in common than not, and structural improvements for either one of you would likely benefit the other.
posted by lillygog at 8:43 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


*your* cause is much more in common.

I don't mean to make this personally directed, I just get very het up about this because I too am someone struggling to figure out how I can afford a house and kids, even with what is comparatively a very good and stable job. I get envious of those that have a little more than me, or frustrated with the young that seem to be making stupid decisions, but those folks aren't the problem. I am deeply concerned that the U.S. and Canada will go off a cliff because those of us below the 1% are distracted by infighting while we die the death of a thousand little cuts. And now I'll step away because this makes me feel like shouting rather than having a conversation.
posted by lillygog at 8:50 PM on May 17, 2012


I guess the reason why I'm not going to let it go is because the same thing happened to me.


Let it go? In what sense? What are you not going to let go of? I'm still trying to understand what it is that you're having a problem with. That he's bitching about his situation? Well, having experienced it firsthand, I would imagine that there is at least *some* amount of empathy that you would have, no? As far as dealing with it and finding another career, obviously it is too early to talk about it. Neither I nor you have any clue as to what will become of him in the future. For all we know, he'll achieve more than both of us combined. But then again, maybe not.
Or is it the fact that his goals are different from yours? Or is it that since you got screwed, others deserve as much?
posted by c13 at 9:03 PM on May 17, 2012


The only problem with arguing that he's an example of youth unemployment is that he's *NOT* unemployed.

For all his frustration, he's actually got a reasonably well paid job that he enjoys, working for what sounds like Mountain Equipment Co-op; he's making 18.75 an hour, which is a reasonably good living wage. 36K is 3 grand a month before taxes, about 2400 a month afterwards. Living on that is not onerous (I've done it, within the last 5 years). He certainly should be able to both live and pay off one of his two student loans, especially if he has a roommate.

His discontent because he can't enter his chosen field, which is a difficult thing to do at the best of times, especially with a undergrad degree alone. That the financial services sector took a blow and contracted just as he graduated doesn't make him a douche, it makes him unfortunate. But it also sounds very much like he wanted into finance because he wanted to make lots and lots of money, rather than because he has a deep passion for derivatives trading. It's maddening to listen to someone who is employed wail because he'll never own a cabin in Whistler or drive a Beemer or get married or own a McMansion on the West Side -- especially because, as many of us aged and decrepit morons have pointed out, things change much more than you'd expect and he probably will be able to buy a house and have kids.

The big issue is that he seems to have expected to walk out of Finance at UBC and into a good, high-paying job, one with plenty of prestige and perks, and he is hugely distressed that this has not happened. He assumed his education was a ticket, and that in getting it he was buying entree into a high-paying, high-status career track. That's never true, no matter what you study.
posted by jrochest at 9:21 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


But it also sounds very much like he wanted into finance because he wanted to make lots and lots of money, rather than because he has a deep passion for derivatives trading.

Are you saying there are people that trade derivatives just for the fun of it?
posted by c13 at 9:29 PM on May 17, 2012


So compare and contrast with the previous article about the humanities professor trying to eke out a living. She's unsympathetic because she wanted to make a career doing what interested her without much thought towards her ability to support herself and the future of her field. He's unsympathetic because he saw where the money was and wanted a piece of the action - his primary aim is to support himself, he made an informed decision to focus on that, and he's castigated for it. Is wanting a career of any kind now just considered passe?

Are we going to continue blaming jobhunters and pointing fingers at everyone's lack of foresight/initiative/entrepreneurialism/humility and look at what truly belies all of this - a lack of jobs? It's not about skills mismatch, laziness, etc. We have surplus workers. A ton of them. Many of them didn't go to college, some did. Unfortunately, there's a disproportionate amount of focus on kids from this guy's background because society cares more about them and the - sometimes ridiculous - things they have to say, but when a college grad or an overqualified Boomer has to serve waffles to make rent - "those other people" get pushed out of the workforce entirely. When an MBA is collating the mailing list, the office gets haughty and wants to demand that every secretary that follows her has at least a BA, not because they need to, but solely because they can and the resume pile gets cut in half. When entry level position becomes unpaid internship and you have to run the gauntlet for 1-3 entire years before you qualify for entry level, income inequality increases, as people who can afford to work for free get career tracked and those who can't just get trapped. When the market is so tight that "networking" is the best way in, the socially marginalized become even more so, as networks are usually established along lines of demarcation that separate by race, class, gender and religion. This is bad for everyone, and contending that only the very best in their field deserve the opportunity to make a stable living leaves the vast majority of humans out in the cold, where the need to eat multiple times daily persists even when the paychecks do not.
posted by Selena777 at 9:33 PM on May 17, 2012 [20 favorites]


Are you saying there are people that trade derivatives just for the fun of it?

I work in Finance and I like my work. Of course I wouldn't do it for free (I need to eat after all) but it's not too different to what I would do on the weekends: I like data, I like analysis, I like playing games.

For example, in a game, I needed to model some combat behaviour: say an ability that gave you +30% attack speed for 3 attacks after a critical strike. What is the average DPS increase for any given combination of crit rate and weapon damage? How would you represent this on an easy to read graph? What are the inflection points for crit vs attack damage for a state with this talent and a state without this talent? How does diminishing returns for crit look like with this talent, and without this talent?

Some problems you can solve analyically: then you confirm those models by running numerical analysis.

My job is a lot more enjoyable because data modelling is something I like doing. I imagine derivative trading is similar. My job would be a hell of a lot worse for me if I didn't like doing it, and was only doing it for the money.
posted by xdvesper at 9:44 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are we going to continue blaming jobhunters and pointing fingers at everyone's lack of foresight/initiative/entrepreneurialism/humility and look at what truly belies all of this - a lack of jobs?

Amen. If everyone is so damn smart, how come are we in this mess?
It's just boggles my mind that we never learn. When blue collar workers were loosing their jobs, we were saying essentially the same things. Now it's college kids. What's next?
Again, the question that the "wise older" people should be asking themselves is who's going to pay their SS and support them in a few years? Baristas with PhDs? Who's going to buy gear from the Mountain Equipment? Old overweight rich geezers with prosthetic knees, hips and heart valves?
posted by c13 at 9:51 PM on May 17, 2012


When I was 29, I was making $28k/year, and that was... 2002. But getting there was tough, that was the most money I had ever made up until that point. I remember being offered another job and my friend who helped me get it said "you'll have to learn to live with $35k for a while" and I was like I'LL TRY SOMEHOW.
posted by monkeymike at 9:56 PM on May 17, 2012


Just to continue harping on the $36K thing, if this guy is working a "lifestyle" job on the West Coast, he's almost certainly working with a bunch of 20 year old Aussies on work/travel visas who remind him every day that $36K is what you make working full-time at minimum wage in Australia (which has a dollar worth almost exactly the same, and has a similar cost of living).
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:02 PM on May 17, 2012


I've never wanted to rant like this on MeFi before, but this whole response is really disappointing.

This thread and the one about the MBA guy who repaid his loans are both kind of crappy, lots of name calling and not enough empathy. Sure, he's kind of a whiner, kind of misguided, and the "waaah, I can't get married!" stuff is just histrionics. But there are a lot of people trying to figure this stuff out, and finding that the "wisdom" they had listened to for many years has turned out to not be all that relevant in a changing world.
posted by Forktine at 10:11 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Selena777: it's a defense mechanism. Scared people want to believe that "it can't happen to me" and so they construct a narrative that blames the victim.

When in fact, we're all in this together, and for most of us, random chance worked out differently and we'd be in this guy's shoes.

I think part of social change is going to be people accepting that it CAN happen to them, and giving up hope that somehow they are immune. Where have I heard that before, about killing hope...
posted by wuwei at 10:13 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


It takes a little more to earn that BMW than an undergrad degree and a willingness to work 65 hours a week and sending out resumes.

Perhaps getting a Beemer is a bit much. But those three elements- a go-getting attitude, a strong work ethic, and a college degree used to be all one needed for modest success and comfortable living. Think of how things have been since the G.I. Bill onwards. When did it become devalued? Sometime in the '90s? Or simply in the last decade?

On the occasions when I'm reminded that there are joys in parenthood, I remind myself that mine was the responsible choice.

Oh, get off your high horse. You may be happy and content with your decision, and firm in your belief of the future being a vale of tears, but there's no need to label everyone who has kids as irresponsible.

Are you saying there are people that trade derivatives just for the fun of it?

Let me tell you of a video game called EVE Online...
posted by Apocryphon at 10:34 PM on May 17, 2012


One issue I have with the people who start "Well, you did it wrong. You should have done this..." is that everyone is pretty much screwed lately. What should he have done differently? Go STEM? Where I live, the computer scientists and engineers were the first and worst hit when the economy went bad, and a lot of them took years to find new jobs and lost their houses. Science isn't any better; the tenure track is dying and industry is a mess (look at how the pharmaceutical companies are doing, for instance; Pfizer is laying people off left and right). Medicine is hard to get into and not everyone is capable, and it's becoming less and less lucrative every year. A few doctors are actually starting to leave the field, as the work is awful (the hours are absolutely insane) and insurance takes enough money to make it potentially not worth the effort if you could do something else instead.

There have been several articles on the blue lately about how law is in a bubble and new grads are having trouble finding anything. The trades are not nearly as well off as people seem to think; the housing bust affected them badly, and a lot of displaced workers looked to them early on. Technical certifications saddle you with the same loans as college degrees and are totally worthless outside of one specific position that could easily end up overfilled or obsoleted. Business and finance are not really doing as well either; this article illustrates that. A few people are making money hand over fist but it's incredibly hard for new people to enter the field.

My point is; there is no current 'right path' and everyone is getting screwed, so blaming individuals for picking the wrong path seems misguided. They're all wrong paths at this point, but some people get lucky. The system is fundamentally broken and needs to be fixed, or else it will collapse fully at some point in the future and even the rich will be screwed.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:53 PM on May 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think about this sometimes and then realize people lived through the holocaust. But really each new low for a person is the worst shit ever for them. Can't hate on the guy if subjectively he is at a low point.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:02 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


jrochest: "The big issue is that he seems to have expected to walk out of Finance at UBC and into a good, high-paying job, one with plenty of prestige and perks, and he is hugely distressed that this has not happened."

Shame on him for naively believing what people told him. Shame on us for charging a user fee for education. It wouldn't be such a disaster to not be clairvoyant if people didn't graduate with $20,000-$100,000 of debt. It seems more than a little dumb to me to expect an 18-20 year old to have a good chance of accurately forecasting the job market 2-6 years hence, but what do I know—I didn't even graduate from high school!
posted by wierdo at 11:21 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In 30 years, I hope this guy writes a follow-up piece and let's us know how it all turned out.
posted by BeeDo at 11:30 PM on May 17, 2012


Huh. I was just looking at my resume, and my first job in my second career, in 1997 (when I was 26), I was making mid-30s. And I thought it was a damn miracle, a huge pile of money, and I never thought I'd see the high side of 40. It really is your expectations that make your reality, I suppose.
posted by davejay at 12:32 AM on May 18, 2012


God, what is it with whining bloody twenty-somethings? Jesus God, man, go work shifts at the factory while looking for that wonderfully-tailored-to-your-precious-schoolwork-and-ambitions dream job you seem to think is yours by right. Your grandfather was probably down a bloody mine or something at your age. Mine was on a bloody trawler. Lower your damned expectations when necessary and then you can work on raising them from a reasonable base position. You think the seventies in Britain were a fun time to be trying to get a job? Go read some history. Yet we didn't give up and bitch endlessly about not being able to live up to our potential. We bloody well sucked it up, swallowed our pride, did *any* job we could get our hands on and kept on plugging away.

Seriously. Twenty-somethings. Gah! MY LAWN. OFF IT.
posted by Decani at 1:46 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


You think the seventies in Britain were a fun time to be trying to get a job? Go read some history.

If my memory serves me well, you also rioted, organized, had a bunch of strikes and had a goddamn labor government. Plus the dole! Through the eighties you didn't even have to do any meaningful compliance to be on the dole, right? You just got your check. (At least that's the impression I got from novels and memoirs.) Plus you had a much better and stronger national health service than you do now, since it hadn't been split by privatization. And council housing! It may have been Knifecrime Council Housing, but it beat the hell out of being homeless per most people's writing.

Let me tell you, if I had to be unemployed, I'd rather be unemployed in a semi-social-democracy than in a place where being unemployed shuts me out of healthcare and might tip me into homelessness. I mean, I'm sure it was no fun at all - everyone agrees! - but the whole reason to have the national health and the dole and so on was precisely so that "no fun" wouldn't turn into "dying on the street of a preventable disease because bill collectors will chase you if you go to the ER", which seems to be where Amerikkka is going.

It's so strange to me that we are living in this crazy historical moment of the collapse of the neo-liberal model - where basically there's a tussle among the elites over whether to try to buy people off again (tax hikes, benefits) or just go ahead and introduce fascism (ever more spying and police rights, bigger crack-downs on everything)....just this insane, incredible moment complicated by global climate instability really hitting the fan plus a few key environmental disasters....And the public response is basically "it's not history, it's you, you're a slacker and a whiner because at a time of crisis unprecedented in the US for almost a hundred years you can't find a job and are freaking out". And then some hand-waving about how since now we're learning what it is to live in a corrupt and impoverished states a la 1980s Brazil, we just need to come to terms with how lucky we are that it's not 1980s Ethiopia instead. Ideology is a powerful thing.

Also, when folks point to 1939 - 1945 as a bad economic time in the US - it wasn't that much, right? Lots of war jobs, a sorta-planned economy, work for anyone who wanted to do it. Of course, if you were off fighting it pretty much sucked, but lots of people had a quite good war.
posted by Frowner at 5:08 AM on May 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I feel for anyone that is having a tough time finding a job in their field. That being said, by bitching about his plight online, he is well on his way to tattooing DON'T HIRE ME on his forehead.

One thing the generation of "Millenials" needs to learn to do is know when to keep it's fucking mouth shut. In the time it took him to crank out a 4-page whie-fest, he could have sent out about 50 more resumes.

Shoveling shit is not beneath you, and that money is just as green as everyone else's.
posted by prepmonkey at 6:08 AM on May 18, 2012


Shoveling shit is not beneath you, and that money is just as green as everyone else's.

RTFA. Shit-Shoveling-R-Us isn't hiring him either because they think "fuck it, he'll just quit when he gets an office job in a few months".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:20 AM on May 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


I feel for anyone that is having a tough time finding a job in their field. That being said, by bitching about his plight online, he is well on his way to tattooing DON'T HIRE ME on his forehead.

One thing the generation of "Millenials" needs to learn to do is know when to keep it's fucking mouth shut. In the time it took him to crank out a 4-page whie-fest, he could have sent out about 50 more resumes.


Right, because that's how social change happens: by everybody keeping quiet about what's not working for them.

Also, the next time there's a thread about how bad the Boomers fucked up the First World, and the Boomers on MeFi start complaining that someone had the temerity to suggest that they weren't all beautiful hard-working snowflakes just doing the best they could given the circumstances, I'm pointing them to this thread. There's an awful lot of intergenerational hostility directed downward at somebody who's just trying to get the job he trained for.
posted by gauche at 6:25 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think about this sometimes and then realize people lived through the holocaust.

A lot of them didn't.
posted by Nomyte at 6:25 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


RTFA. Shit-Shoveling-R-Us isn't hiring him either because they think "fuck it, he'll just quit when he gets an office job in a few months".

There's a lot of truth to that. I'm hiring for that kind of position right now (not literally shit shoveling, it's actually a really good job, but definitely about as distant from "office work" as you can get) and there's zero percent chance I'm going to hire some dude with a finance degree who shows every sign of wanting to get back to his chosen field ASAP. Hiring and training is a huge, huge pain in the ass; if you don't fit the usual mold for the job, it can be really tough to convince people that you are serious and will stay long enough to make it worth their time.

This gets us back to the kinds of job finding advice people are listening to, and why the approach of "apply to anything that is advertised" probably isn't always a great approach. There's no guaranteed approach, especially in this economy, but there are definitely better and worse approaches.
posted by Forktine at 7:03 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I graduated from high school in 1999; I showed an aptitude for computers, and entered community college seeking a 2 year IT degree. I worked my ass off in school, given that the dot.com boom was in full swing, and every slacker asshole I hung out with at Denny's who DIDN'T have the AA I was pursuing, and some not even having finished high school were all pulling $60k+ at AOL, or Crudonastick.com, or failing that, at least one of the thousands of Tier 1 tech support jobs that, while shitty and frustrating, paid upwards of $16/hr, which was over twice what I was making at the crappy telemarketing job I worked at senior year of high school.

Then 2000 happened, and the entire job market I was in the midst of studying for shrank to nearly zero, the field was glutted with IT folk, and I ended up taking WELL longer than two years to get my "2 year degree", on account I was working full time stocking shelves in a grocery store, where I worked until the store shut down. I was unemployed for a time, and I learned that there's no way you can phrase "6 years in a grocery store" on a resume that makes you hireable to anything but another grocery store.

I ended up getting a job in a teleconferencing center (because I knew people there), and the job I have now (because of my dad), and I'm happy here, and with my lot in life, and I worked extremely hard to get here, HOWEVER I also had immeasurable help from my family, my friends, and my folks paying my tuition. Hell, I even got lucky being hired at the rate I did at the shitty grocery store at which I worked.

I don't understand the hostility aimed at this guy; I don't see anything gauche in his aspirations, nor his expectations. At 30, I can't imagine being thrust back into the job hunt now, in this environment; No, I'm not above working in a Chili's to make ends meet, but if I'd known this was a foregone conclusion, I'd have foregone wasting time learning about, say, network topology (much of which is laughably outdated now, mind you) and gone into restaurant management, or just gone to trade school.

Saying that this guy is 'spoiled' because things didn't work out the way they were promised and he's bitter about it, or that his personal struggle must past muster against the whole of human suffering (really, the Holocaust? That's our unit of measure here? In a discussion about the job market?) just strikes me as callous, especially for such a 'liberal' crowd. It's like people excusing spousal abuse because "Well, it's a shame when men beat their wives, but she really WAS a mouthy broad, so I mean, suck it up and smile more, toots"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:59 AM on May 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


Saying that this guy is 'spoiled' because things didn't work out the way they were promised

don't think people are saying that. I think people think he is spoiled because he assumed those things were "promised" when in reality for most people they require work to obtain even in good times. The negative reaction from MeFi comes from his feeling put out that he is bitter about now having to fall into the lowly ranks of the majority.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:14 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry: The negative reaction from MeFi comes from his feeling put out that he is bitter about now having to fall into the lowly ranks of the majority.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:15 AM on May 18, 2012


At the age of 29, I've likely forever lost the following opportunities due to cost and probable inability to make up for lost wages and career potential:
[...]
- Owning a home that's bigger than 500 square feet. (hint: that's not big.)


Most 29 yr olds in the UK have the feeling they will never actually own a home of any size. Thanks, buy-to-let landlords!
posted by mippy at 9:21 AM on May 18, 2012


he is spoiled because he assumed those things were "promised" when in reality for most people they require work to obtain even in good times.

But he doesn't seem to be under any illusions about these things requiring work. He repeatedly expresses his willingness to work, and indeed is working. What he's lamenting is that he doesn't have the opportunity to work hard for the things he wants.

I contend that the opportunity was indeed promised to him. And that's the promise that is being broken.
posted by gauche at 9:36 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, 36K CAD is equivalent to £24k, more or less, which is the average wage in London.
posted by mippy at 9:40 AM on May 18, 2012


Reading this article really struck a chord for me. I'm crazy lucky to have a decent job at 26. And yes, I worked hard and I have a good degree and I'm smart. But that's not why I got my job. I got my job because AFTER all that was in place, I was exceedingly lucky. The guy in this story could easily have been me.

While you might not appreciate his particular aspirations, I have watched this happen to way too many of my friends who wanted to be teachers or work in science or any number of other occupations that are MeFi approved. They have graduate degrees, but there's 1000 applicants for every entry level position. Target won't take them. They are humiliated to live with their parents, but don't have much of an alternative, given the student loan debts they're saddled with. We worked hard in college and all we want is a chance to work hard and make a career, but that seems to be nigh impossible.

Yeah, we do want to eventually be in an important enough position someday to make our own decisions instead of always being told what to do. We want houses. We want a families. But right now what we want more than anything is a chance to get started on the path that will get us there.
posted by chatongriffes at 9:42 AM on May 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Selena77: I completely agree with you: the upward pressure on qualifications and certifications is a useless endgame for all concerned, because you don't need a Phd to collate the mail. And it really is about class, connections and income: if you have parents who support you through the 4 unpaid internships and you went to school with people who can help you get a job, you win. If you don't, no matter how smart you are, you lose. This is no way to build an economy, and it needs to change. But "I'm not working in my field!!!" is the case for most recent undergraduate degree holders, in any economy.

weirdo: this isn't just that he 'believed what everyone told him', it's that he bought a lie. It's the nature of the lie he bought that's the issue: I'm an English professor, and I've watched over the last 20 years or more as campuses have been taken over by commerce/business schools, all of whom tell us that they're the Future! of the university, rather than those old, boring, useless Humanities and pure Science disciplines. Students go into Commerce because they want a job, not because they're interested in the discipline, and that marks it as different from almost any other field. It's marketed as a vending machine. All you need to do is pay and push the button, and you get a 'great career' rather than an education. This is bullshit, and it always has been. University gives you an education, and that's it. The marketing around B-school is that it is the golden ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, and this is not true.

Also: he has a job. It's probably not a dead-end job, unless he decides it is. He has the brains and the connections to get a 4 page piece published in the Globe and Mail. He will be fine.
posted by jrochest at 12:46 PM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I understand that the writer is frustrated that the historical narrative has been that a full time, decently paid job is available to anyone willing to work hard. And people that invest in their education get well paid, fulfilling jobs. But, up until recently, that was only true for while men of priviledge, it isn't ~fair~ that everyone is now being treated the way lower-class, women and racialised workers have been treated, but complaining about it without acknowledging the context comes across as priviledge personified.
posted by saucysault at 4:29 PM on May 18, 2012


*white, not while. Sorry.
posted by saucysault at 4:32 PM on May 18, 2012


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