Pass the Salt of the Earth
I don’t want to write another piece on finding a job because, frankly, they’re a dime a dozen – not just here but all over the internet. It is no longer news and, therefore, it is no longer part of the cycle. Yet the undergraduates of today who leave college hoping to fit a year or two of time off between their graduate degree are in for a bitter shock – that is, if they did it my way.
Sinatra had his way and I certainly had mine. College was not the experience I’d hoped for and so I spent the better part of my time punching the clock just waiting to escape. Truthfully I had no escape plan beyond seeing myself published – I mean, I had the book, how hard could the rest of it be? Well I’m here to tell you, pretty damn hard. But it doesn’t have to be. If you’re still in college and not interning in your spare time or setting your sights on where you want to work while you figure out if graduate school is a good fit or not – do it.
I hate to be a realist about this because it’s contradictory to my entire philosophy, but the lame and hobbling fact of the matter is that the jobs our parents and grandparents snagged on their way to their lifelong careers are no longer milling about waiting to be scooped up. And why would one want to work as the salt of the earth, doing menial jobs while you write the great American novel or take night classes preparing for law school? Those jobs no longer pay the rent. In fact, they don’t pay for much of anything. Detroit, Michigan – which was once the industrial capital of automotive commerce – now has a 32% poverty rate. The Great Recession may be over but the jobs are still on vacation.
To be a good writer they say you have to know your audience and if this column has any audience at all it’s probably one that was well-schooled in making contacts and staying busy. I avoided that kind of thinking. I believed (because realism is contradictory to my entire philosophy) that as a young graduate of a prestigious university all I had to do was open the window and catch a career.
And so here is one more blog trying to illuminate the employment crisis. Keep your wits about you and if you’re afraid of selling out, at least sell high.