Tag Archives: underemployed

Moving Home

As a young adult, the idea of visiting home sounds wonderful. Family, friends, HBO that I’m not paying for, FREE MEALS…seriously. It’s like a vacation minus the hotel and airfare. When I was in college, I LOVED going home for weekends…maybe a little too much at first. Even now I try to make it home for big events and I still try to see as many people as possible in a short three day weekend.

However…the idea of MOVING HOME?? That had me running and screaming in the other direction. I had spent most of my life and most of college thinking that I’d finish college and move into my own apartment or at the very least an apartment with friends.

This seems like an accurate representation of what I thought my twenties would be like from the ages of…oh….ten to twenty-one.

Except…just like the “Friends” theme song…no one told me how life was going to be this way. Once I graduated college, I had a part time job lined up, but it wasn’t enough to cover rent my security deposit and I was completely SOL.

It actually started a few weeks before I graduated. My mom called. WAIT. No, no, no. This story starts MUCH further back than that.

Part of the reason I didn’t want to move home after graduation was that my family was VERY strict. I distinctly remember my first only summer home during college. The summer actually started off easier than it ended. During dinner, I told my mom I was going to hang out with one of my friends after she got out of work. “Be home by eleven,” was her response. “But mom…she doesn’t get out of work until 10:30.” “Well, I guess you two won’t be seeing each other tonight then!” “Mom, I’m supposed to pick her up from work. She had someone drop her off because those were our plans.” My mom finally agreed that I could go get her (you know because we’re nice people and all) but that I couldn’t hang out afterwards. It was too late. This seemed absolutely archaic to me after nearly an entire year of not having to follow any rules. At school, we wouldn’t even LEAVE for some parties until after eleven. By the end of summer, my 11:00 pm curfew included the computer. I might have gotten in more trouble for calling my house Guantanamo Bay at one point…oops. By the time August rolled around, I was looking for any excuse to move back to school early. After that summer, I didn’t go home for anything longer that a four day break until graduation.

So…back to where I was. It was a few weeks before graduation. My mom called. “When are you moving home?” I laughed. Out loud. While on the phone. “Mom, I’m not moving home, I have a job here. I have an apartment I can stay at. By the way, can I have $1200?” It’s really hard to convince a parent that you are a grown up in the same sentence that you’re asking for money. And that is the story of how I wound up moving home. I was not happy about it. I was dreading the rules and the boredom. Back then there weren’t blogs or advice articles on how to handle this because my graduating class was the start of the wave of students moving home due the recession. My solution was to spend as much time as I could AWAY from home which didn’t exactly please my rule-loving mother. But, as you probably know from reading other posts here, I eventually found my way to grad school, moved out, and got a big girl job.

What can you do if you’re moving home?

Whether you are moving home for the summer or heading back after graduating, there are a few things you can do to make your life (and your parents’ lives) easier.

Have a nice, sit-down discussion about rules. What is a reasonable time that you should be home? Who might be allowed or NOT allowed to spend the night in your room? Do you need to call home with your plans? Certain families are much more relaxed than others. Also, your life situation might be MUCH different than when you last lived at home. Asking a parent if a significant other can stay over in your room while you’re in high school is laughable in most homes. (Granted, it’s still laughable in mine, but that’s another story) In college, your boyfriend or girlfriend might have spent the night with you loads of times. Your parents might tell you that he or she can’t stay in your room. Yes, it sucks, but you know what? I’m not even going to fight that one any more because I know they aren’t budging. I did eventually break my mom down on the curfew…after I graduated I had to come home “when the bars close”. Good thing I live on the border…2 am closing time on one side, 4 am on the other. Sorry not sorry.

Know what’s expected of you. Do you have to help with any chores around the house or baby sit for your younger siblings? Do your parents need help with the rent or paying any bills? Even if your parents tell you that they don’t want your money or your help, offer from time to time! Make dinner for the family one night or help out with raking the leaves. I bought my parents something they had wanted for awhile but didn’t really have the extra money for. Another time, I surprised them by paying their bill at a restaurant.

Find something to do. I had lost touch with my home friends so while I was home, I really had nothing to do. I wound up joining a gym and eventually creating a new friend group consisting of old and new friends. If you’ve been gone for awhile, it’s really like moving to a new city.

Lastly, come up with some sort of timeline. If you’re just moving home for the summer, that’s pretty simple. You’re going back to school. If you’re moving home with no end date in sight…that’s a different story. Once you have a job, set a goal for yourself! You will save $X per month so you can get your own place in Y months. Tell your parents this goal so they can help in any way they can, whether it’s looking for apartments, finding furniture, or even helping you move!

What advice do you have for those moving home?

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TBT – Part Timing

Thanks to one of the blogs I follow, I found this article from The New York Times about how terrible part time work is. And after relying on working three part time jobs to get by for a year and a half, I fully understand how these employees are feeling. While the news reports that the unemployment rate is going down, that doesn’t count people who are “underemployed” like the woman in this article who worked as an interior designer for years and years, only to be working part time as a cashier in her fifties.

For part of my undergrad career, I decided to be a part time student. In my mind, I would spend more time working and would be able to pay for school easier. That wasn’t the case. At Undergrad U, part time students cannot receive ANY financial aid, including scholarships and grants that a student might normally qualify for. This meant that whatever tuition I couldn’t pay out of pocket, I was taking private loans for. This made it all to easy to forget about that expense until after graduation. Also, as a part time student, I couldn’t live on campus. While I lucked out and found super cheap (and super disgusting) subleases, that’s not always the case. In my area, off campus housing was usually more expensive than on campus housing. Another thing was that I wasn’t allowed to be an active member of a lot of the clubs I had been a part of. I also couldn’t work at one of my campus jobs because it was for full time undergrad students only. Once I returned to full time status, I kept working at my previous job and was working almost the same amount of hours that I had been while I was a a part time student! That was definitely not easy and I had to get creative with scheduling…both for work AND classes. As much as that sucked, I was much happier being a full time student!

Working part time jobs was also not a very pleasant experience. Yes, I had worked part time jobs before attempting to juggle three at once. But I had worked those while I was a student, so my job wasn’t my priority at that time. The reason I took on three at once was because I had just graduated from Undergrad U, hadn’t received any “real” job offers (even though I had applied to over 50 jobs!), and was on the verge of being homeless (a big thank you to all my friends with couches). The article made some valid points with the downfalls of part time work – less pay, less hours (obviously), and inconsistent scheduling. One of the jobs paid minimum wage and the other two were commission-based. That, along with the inconsistent scheduling, meant I had a VERY inconsistent pay check. The scheduling was honestly the worst part. Some weeks I’d have tons of hours, other weeks I’d be sitting at home and remember why I hated daytime TV. Also, I didn’t get my schedules until the Friday before the week of the schedule…that meant I had to wait to the last minute to plan EVERYTHING…hair appointments, doctor’s appointments, hanging out with friends, AND the hours I was supposed to work my other jobs. What’s worse, if I requested off one DAY or even part of a day (“Hey boss, I have a doctor’s appointment Tuesday afternoon, could you schedule me for morning only?”) my boss would definitely NOT schedule me for Tuesday (okay, fine, whatever) but also would schedule me LESS for the whole week because “I had less hours to give”. UMMM…WHAT?

While working part time is often necessary, being a part time student at a traditional four year college is something that can be avoided. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be part time students ever…there are definitely ways that it can work! However, you need to make sure you’re aware of the differences between part time and full time student status! In the end, going part time cost me a lot more than being a full time student would have.

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Gap Year

Well hello there new followers! I’m not sure how you all found me, but I’m glad you did! One of my new followers is a recent grad who’s life story sounds very similar to mine. She always thought she’d graduate and go somewhere and get a job and do all those grown up things we all dream of. Except. She didn’t. She’s still in her college town. Why that sounds oddly familiar… So, my fellow blogger (and all you out there with similar situations) this one’s for you.

In our culture, a “gap year” is when someone purposefully takes a year off, usually after high school or college graduation, to travel, see the world, or do something else, like volunteer work. While some people see it as something only the rich do, I’ve had friends with similar socioeconomic backgrounds save and save and save just so they could backpack across Europe. I’ve also had friends be willing to teach English to small children in third world countries. My version of a gap year wasn’t so kindhearted or glamorous. I graduated. I didn’t get a “real” job. I was what the news calls “underemployed”.

(Side note that’s going to be so long it deserves its own paragraph: The jobs I had were most certainly real as I spent many many hours at them for very little money. However, I had some friends, adults, and even my then-boyfriend criticize them as not being “real” jobs. That’s why it’s in quotes. If I were speaking to you in person, I doing the whole air quotes with my fingers thing.)

So what did my freshly graduated unemployed self do? Well, I promptly threw myself a graduation party and invited all my relatives. And that, my friends, is how I survived the first two months out of school. I was constantly going to my local mall and applying to every single store that was hiring. One hired me pretty early on but wanted to wait until they hired more associates so I could be trained in a group, so that was six more weeks of sitting on my butt. I wound up working two mall jobs, being an “independent consultant” doing those home party type shows, and working at a bar. When I wasn’t at work, I was hanging out at my college doing college things with my college friends. I guess everybody else got the warning about the crappy job outlook and decided to take what I like to call a victory lap.

I was actually really glad to have only part time jobs. I knew I wanted to go to grad school and I was able to request time off to visit the campuses, chat with professors, take my GREs, and work on applications. My mom kept pushing for me to get a full time job as an administrative assistant somewhere, but if I did that, I would not have had the same amount of time to search for grad schools. Was I constantly worried about money? Yes. Was it worth it in the end? Yes, I went to my top choice school and eventually landed a job I love. A few weeks ago, I spoke with a recent grad in a similar situation. He could either be a substitute teacher or take a full time position. We worked out that subbing was probably the best option for him so he could have time to go research grad schools. Is it impossible to work full time and figure out grad school? No, but it really depends on how much you already have done and how hard you are willing to work. If you have already researched schools while in undergrad or only plan on applying to one school or have already taken the GRE, working full time might be more feasible.

What did I do in my free time? Well, once I had been accepted into grad school, I went through a period of a few months with probably the least responsibilities I’ll ever have in my life. No homework, no grad school apps, I didn’t live in my own apartment or home, so no housework. I didn’t have a dog yet and I still don’t have kids, so no looking after anybody. It was glorious. I spent as much time as I could visiting friends that lived in different areas. I made sure to reconnect with friends from high school that I had lost touch with during the college years. I explored different areas of the city I was living in. I hope that some day I can save up enough money to have a few months with no responsibilities again, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen until I retire. (Although I do make time to visit Undergrad U every so often and shrug off a few responsibilities for a weekend.)

So, to all you underemployed recent grads, to my fellow blogger, enjoy this time while you can. Yes, you may be broke and sleeping on a couch and surviving on leftovers and mac and cheese, but in five, ten, twenty years, you will look back and not remember how much your back hurt after sleeping on your best friend’s floor, but how much fun you had with him or her. Work hard, play hard, and remember what The Ataris say…”Being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up, these are the best days of our lives.”

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