ignore your parents! they are forbidden from giving you advice

A reader writes:

As a recent college graduate using your tips, I was able to secure a job as an Administrative Assistant at a brand-new charter school that is opening up in my area in the fall. Granted, it does not offer many benefits and the pay is $10.00/hour, but I am also from an area where the job market is very dismal at the moment. This job is so I can start saving money to go to graduate school and to become self-sufficient from my parents, along with gaining valuable work experience since I will be the person putting all of the office procedures into place. Overall, I am excited to start my new job in a few weeks and the lady that I am working for seems like she is very kind and down-to-earth.

Now, here is where I need your advice. My mother is not happy with me taking this job whatsoever. She thinks that since I double-majored in four years from college, I should be able to find a job that starts me out at $18/hour. I understand that she just wants the best for me, but honestly I think she is in denial about how bad the job market is at the moment for recent college graduates (especially since both of my majors are in the humanities). She thinks that just because I graduated college, I should be able to find a prestigious job. But I have looked on multiple job sites and sadly $10/hour is on the higher end of the pay scale around where I live when it comes to entry level work. I am lucky that I found a job in general that is full-time, especially since so many of my friends that live around here cannot even find that.

My mother complains that the pay at this new job is too low and that they are trying to screw me over since they had to change the start date for all of the new employees around a few times since there were delays in remodeling the classrooms and receiving all of the office supplies for the new school. If it was a seasoned employer that was doing this, I would be skeptical, but my new employer has been informing me on what has been going on with the new school every step of the way and has been very good with answering my questions and concerns in a prompt manner. My mother says that I will be “working for a bunch of monkeys” and that I lost too much money since I received the job offer in mid-July and will not start until the third week of August. But isn’t it normal to wait that long to start a new job, especially since it is for a school?

Sorry if my thoughts are all over the place, but so many of my friends are getting ripped apart by their parents for the fact that they cannot find a well-paying job out of college. I think it would be beneficial if you can address the fact that the economy is still pretty bad for recent college graduates since many of our parents have not looked for a new job in many years and do not see it first-hand.

As of right now, all parents are prohibited from giving job search advice to their children. All of them. Yes, the sensible few will be punished for the transgressions of their peers, but that is the price that must be paid to put a stop to this epidemic of awful advice.

Your mom is wrong. Your friends’ parents are wrong.

The fact that you double-majored has nothing to do with your job prospects or earning potential when you are right out of school in the midst of a terrible job market and have little/no experience. When there aren’t enough jobs to go around, no one cares that you double-majored. Hell, when there aren’t enough jobs to go around, no one cares that you have a degree at all.

And I don’t know where she came up with $18/hour, but she’s clearly not familiar with the current job market, which is one where people with much more experience than you would be grateful for a $10/hour job.

She should be congratulating you on finding a job that you’re excited about, at a time when many of last year’s graduates still haven’t found jobs … and when plenty of people with tons of skills and experience are unemployed.

As for the “bunch of monkeys” allegation, no. The timeline of your start date is normal, the delays in remodeling the classrooms are normal, the whole thing is normal.

Ignore her. Ignore anyone who seems not to be aware of the terrible job market that entire country is dealing with.

And congratulations on your new job!

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 196 comments… read them below }

  1. JfC*

    Letting go of “prestige” in my job search as a new graduate was the best thing for me. I’m a lot happier now, even though I’m just working at a restaurant and interviewing for better positions.

    1. Kimberlee*

      Agreed! When I graduated college, as much as I applied for more prestigious jobs, I ended up working at a fast food joint for 2 years. And it was great! When I managed to let go of the ennui of it all, and dedicated myself to getting as much from my position as I could, I …. well, I got a lot more out of it!

  2. Jamie*

    I would like to appeal for a waiver on behalf of parents who are AAM devotees.

    After all my teenage son got his first job recently because, in large part, I shared your magic interview question with him.

    I beseech you – Don’t punish the few for the mistakes of the many :).

    Some of us know what we’re doing!

  3. Jamie*

    Oh, and congrats to the OP. this does sound like a fabulous opportunity to get a ton of experience and it’s very exciting being in on the beginning of a new org.

    I hope you don’t let the naysayers, even when it’s a beloved mom, damper your enthusiasm. Good luck!

  4. Laura*

    Many (but certainly not all) parents of 22 year olds (recent grads) are around the age of late 40s, which puts them at a perfect age to have job searched in decades that have been exceedingly kind. I have found many of my friends parents (I am a new grad) just have ZERO idea.

    No, you can’t call a temp agency, work as a secretary, and get promoted to an analyst position within a few months. Maybe that worked in the early 90s, but it doesn’t work that way anymore! In fact, even if you are lucky enough to get a temp position, you are lucky if it turns perm, let alone getting a promotion!

    1. Jamie*

      Well, I wouldn’t say that never happens. I started as a temp in late 2005. Then Office Manager > Operations Admin > IT Manager > Director of IT > CIO in less than 7 years.

      The economy is different now than in 2005, but you don’t need to back 20 years for that path to have been viable.

      1. Kimberlee*

        Wow, that is pretty stellar! I would imagine that kind of succession is the exception rather than the rule, but if you can find the right organization, it’s definitely possible!

        1. Jamie*

          Actually the first two positions were at one company – I was there a couple weeks shy of a year – and then the rest were at another company, with a couple more months of temping in between the two.

          I know temping isn’t for everyone, but I had good results which is why I do advocate it when it comes up.

          1. Jaci*

            I held 2 office positions that started out through a temp agency, and both of those turned into permanent jobs that I loved and stayed at for 2 years each. I’m starting my 3rd temp position next week, and since it’s “temp to hire” I’m confident I’ll be employed through the company by Christmas. *LOVE* my staffing agency.

            I interviewed with a woman who wanted me to be her office manager, personal assistant, sales associate AND redesign her website–for $8.50 per hour! So I can completely relate to where the OP is coming from. I struggled to find a job that paid equal to what I made (with zero office experience) at my first temp job as an office assistant in 2008. $10 per hour jobs are hard to get, even for people with experience.

          2. Anon.*

            It really depends on the company. I’ve no had two temp-to-perm roles that didn’t go perm, but they were happy enough to keep me around indefinitely and give me mission-critical projects to work on.

    2. Angela S.*

      I find that parents these days are clueless — period — about what their children have to go through from going to post-secondary education to getting a job.

      It starts from parents who don’t save enough — or not at all — for their children’s tuition while they give their children the expectation that the tuition will be covered somehow….

      And then they go on to get those loans, thinking that they will get a good job after graduation anyway so the loan amount is not a worry.

      And then after they graduate, they realize that their first jobs pay them $10/hour, if they are lucky.

      What a bad cycle to be in!

      I really don’t know who to blame for all these!

      I graduated in mid-2000 and my first “real” office job paid me $10/hour. It was a full time position with part-time benefit — that is, no benefit! It took me more than a few years before I start earning an equivalent of $18/hr with benefit.

      OP, I went through a similar hell with my mom. But if you never give up and believe that one day you will be able to earn a comfortable living, while you continue to improve yourself, you will be fine.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This. I made $8-9 six or seven years ago and could live on it–tightly, but I could. Now I need at LEAST $10 or I’m screwed. Some receptionist positions here, especially with the hospitals, are still paying $7.50!

      1. Anon.*

        Me too! Early 2000s, $10 an hour…which wasn’t enough to pay for my loans AND move out of my parents’ house. But it was a great start and I had a position in my field (and I was an English major) the next summer. Which still didn’t pay great, but enough to live off of if I stuck to a strict budget. Which is typical of your early 20s. I admire the OP’s realism and think you are actually off to a great start!

      2. Melissa*

        I’m in a PhD program now and I get so frustrated when I try to talk to my parents about my nervousness about the job market. I have the double struggle of having parents who didn’t go to college AND started their careers in much kinder eras, so they not only think that finding a job should be easy but they think that college is a golden ticket to a great life so graduate school should mean I should be making six figures out of the box. My dad keeps trying to convince me to quit with my MA because he seems to think I can get any job I want with it, even jobs I am definitely not qualified for.

    3. Anonymous*

      “No, you can’t call a temp agency, work as a secretary, and get promoted to an analyst position within a few months.”

      Hee, this exact situation happened to me … in 1995.

      1. Maria*

        I’m curious to get someone’s take on new graduates with higher degrees. I’m a law school graduate trying to find an alternative career to law, and really having trouble. It would be extremely difficult to pay my loans, much less other expenses, with a $10/hour job, but I’d take one if it happened. I think I’m being dismissed from those kinds of entry-level jobs because of my degree. I try to address in my cover letter that I’m trying to switch career tracks, but it doesn’t seem to help. I assume the economy and there being other individuals that are perfectly qualified is part of the issue also. Anyway, any advice would be appreciated. I’m also being encouraged by parents to temp since they know one person it worked for 10 years ago…it gets hard.

        1. K.*

          If you’re looking for a job that doesn’t require a law degree, you might consider leaving it off your resume.

          1. Liz*

            Law school requires you not to work (literally you are not allowed, at least at the good schools) so this leaves her with a 3-year hole in her resume. (If she had to study for the bar without a full-time legal job, like about 2/3 if all graduates it will be almost four years because the test is in the summer after graduation but the results take months).

            That won’t matter if you’re applying for fast food jobs, but any job that will give valuable experience probably will want a RRALLY good explanation.

            1. Maria*

              Thanks, Liz. That’s exactly my problem. I have been considering how I could possibly leave the JD off, but it would also mean leaving off clerkships/internships and losing references for the last 3.5 years, which would look as bad or worse than the degree. I know a lot of lawyers with this issue, and I imagine other recent grads with higher degrees may be having similar problems. Was hoping someone might have advice.

              1. Liz*

                Compliance jobs need legal skills, but age discrimination can be a problem. If you have ANY sort of a finance or accounting background, thatmight work. If you don’t,anyone volunteer at an organization where you can get to know whomever does the 990 and try to gain some experience that way?

                Good luck! My impression had been that employers are really resistant to JDs, but once hired the JD tends to shoot up really quickly if he or she has any sort of soft skills at all (and you sound like you do). So fwiw it might be harder to be hired but once you’re in the door you’ll be great!

        2. anon*

          Fairly recent law grad here- been through this. My heart goes out to you. No one understands your plight unless they have been through it. (Guys, just so you know, it isn’t uncommon for one attorney position to have 40-80 applicants. If you are thinking about going to law school, please don’t.)

          It took me almost a year to land an attorney job. While I looked for a job, I did take on a couple temporary positions in law offices. Those temporary positions didn’t help me land a job, but they did help me expand my network. I struggled with the idea of a second career for a while. I considered the military and law enforcement jobs. I also applied for several state jobs, including state investigator and research analyst positions. I finally ended up landing an attorney position.

          I have had a lot of time to think about career alternatives to being a lawyer lately. I came up with a few. You could work for your state legislature or take some other political job, become a state investigator, go into the military, become a police officer, work for your city in some position that requires strong research and writing skills, or work for the federal government. In other words, some government positions require, encourage, or don’t automatically reject people with JDs. Now if your undergraduate is in something like accounting, you could become a CPA. If your undergraduate major is political science, see government jobs above. There is one other option I thought of, and that is to become a paralegal or legal secretary. The pay can be pretty good. You may or may not like it. You may or may not feel that it is ok for you to take one of those positions. That is why I put them last on the list.

          Come to think of it, you could join a union or go to technical school to pick up some skills related to medicine, science, or computers. Of course, those options will require some the investment of your time and money. However, acquiring specific, in-demand skills can potentially shoot you directly into a decent paying job.

          I won’t tell you what to do. I won’t tell you to try the public defender’s office or start your own practice because that would be insulting. You’ve already tried that or thought about it. The best advice I can give you, if you are intent on giving up your search for a legal position, is to leverage your experience and education into something else. You probably have strong analytical, writing and research abilities. Use them to your advantage.

          Again, my heart is with you. I understand your pain and frustration. Keep looking for a decent job and don’t give up.

          1. Suzanne*

            I do know that I’ve been leaving my master’s degree off my resume when applying for jobs for which the degree has no relevance. I’m amazed at how much more feedback I’m getting…interviews all over the place. (No new job yet, alas!) However, my master’s is from 20+ years ago, so leaving it off does not leave a gap in my work history like it would if you just got out of school.

            And I’m old enough to be amazed at how hard it is to get a legal job now days. That, and education, used to be super secure professions. Who would have ever thought?

  5. Christina*

    OP, I can relate! I feel like AAM’s advice also applies to friends. I have some friends who have tried to give me some bad, outdated advice. Now that I think about it, I wonder if this was advice they got from their parents?

    As wonderful as my parents are, I do not often take their job search advice (unless it’s AAM verified!). I am fortunate that my parents typically refrain from giving me said advice. Although I once was talking to my Mom about how frustrated I was that I had not yet found a job and she said, “well, you just need to keep looking every day.” I just about hung up the phone on my own Mom- I know she meant to be encouraging, but the fact was that I WAS looking at job postings every day and there just isn’t much out there!

    The thing I am finding with my job search is that there are jobs available, but I am caught between being considered “experienced” and being a “new graduate “. I graduated in May 2011, but I am fotunate to have been working in a full-time supervisory position since July 2006. I feel like many jobs don’t fit me very well -either I’m way underqualified or they pay too little to make the bills. The other struggle is that my field of interest is completely different from my current field. I do remind myself that I am extremely fortunate to even have a job and therefore I can afford to be a little more picky about my job search. I want to make sure that my next job is a great match for me and the employer!

    Congrats on your new job, OP!

  6. Anonymous*

    I whole-heartedly agree. I graduated from a “prestigious” college in a strong economy (mid-2000s), but for a number of factors, missed out on senior recruiting and didn’t have a job at graduation. After graduation, I returned to the internship I had the summer before–I loved the work and the colleagues, and it was challenging, but it only paid $1,250 *a month*, so my mom was upset and kept making comparisons to the other grads. Lo and behold, a few months later I successfully negotiated a raise to stay on a little longer, and a few months after that, they made a real FT offer. I’ll add that it was a startup and they needed the help… but it launched my entire career.

    1. Kimberlee*


      Everyone has to start somewhere, and you’ll never know what kind of opportunities might present themselves!

  7. Anonymous*

    I actually have the opposite issue with my parents. They are trying to make me realize that I might never get a job in my field. It’s partially true right now as my dominant part-time job is not in my field, but my other one is. I’m refusing to resign to that notion, and I’m using the time to do things that can benefit me in my field when the job market brightens.

    1. Another Emily*

      Negative advice is not necessarily good advice. Your parents could very well be wrong about this.

    2. Anonymous*

      I’m in a kind of similar situation, my parents grew up poor (neither finished high school, my dad did manual labor, my mom worked retail) and so they think getting a minimum rage job selling hot dogs or whatever is GREAT. When I lament all my college debt (since it had to all be loans, they saved $0) versus my earning ability now, they act like I’m insane to have ever wanted more than to work in a factory like my dad did.

      They don’t get that minimum wage won’t even cover a fraction of an apartment in this city anymore. They go “Well when *I* was your age I worked in the food court at the mall and me and two friends rented a house!” Yeah no. Not happening anymore guys.

      1. Anonymous*

        My dad worked in his field for less than 5 years and spent the rest of his career life in anything but his field. He’s basing his predictions of me off of that. I guess he wants to me to be prepared for the worst, but like I said, I refuse to give in to that so early in the game.

        So when I say I want to eventually quit this job (I’m giving it one more year for a few reasons, one of which is to see this market wakes up), I want to move into my field 100%. But he doesn’t see it that way. He thinks I should just move to a different company doing the same thing and perhaps for a higher wage. While my job is interesting, and I have learned a lot, had I really been interested in that field, I would have gone to college for it. I didn’t, and not to sound entitled, I would prefer to work in what I studied.

  8. EAC*

    God bless well meaning (well I hope they are well meaning) friends and family members. I think I posted about my sister who’s been a SAHM for at least the past 10 years. Some of the whack advice that she’s been giving me just makes me want to scream.

    I think it’s time to have a sit down with her and tell that she is no longer allowed to ask about or give advice on my job search because she just.doesn’t.have. a. clue!!

    1. Rana*

      *sigh* Yes. I’ve been dealing with this sort of well-intentioned advice for *years*, and it’s not just parents.

      No, beloved relatives, just because it worked for your one lucky friend who has influential friends and lives in New York, doesn’t mean that it will work for me when I’m living in a small town and all my friends are either in other fields or in the same boat I am. At the very least, grant me the courtesy of acknowledging that relying on random luck isn’t the soundest job searching strategy. And, no, that approach that worked for you back in the 1970s isn’t appropriate now. And, yes, I do know about Monster. No, it doesn’t list anything in my field. No, really, I have checked. Truly. No, they won’t just create a permanent position for me because they like me. No, I’m not “giving up.” I’m explaining the realities of my situation. Etc.

      I dreaded the holidays for years before finally putting my foot down and declaring an end to all attempts to “fix Rana’s job problems” (especially since they inevitably turned into “what *is* wrong with Rana, anyway” discussions).

    2. Anonymous*


      SAHM’s giving job hunting advice!!! I wonder how the SAHM would like it if someone who has never cared for a child told her how she could be a better mom.

      1. VintageLydia*

        Hey! I’m a SAHM and I give advice!

        But I’m also an avid reader of AAM and have no illusions about the current job market. It is, after all, why we decided it would be best for me to stay home for now. Not everyone is so privileged, unfortunately :/

    1. anonymous*

      Does the name “two times” mean that you post two pieces of bad advice in a row?
      1. Not everyone can afford to move to a better job market.
      2. I’m sure there are a few people who pay for their own schooling with the extra wads of cash they have sitting around. For everyone else, paying for their own college education entails taking out loans. Some parents can afford and have a genuine desire to save their kids from taking out those loans. That is not a bad thing.

      1. A Teacher*

        My parents didn’t want me to have loan debt out of undergrad. My sister and I had parameters as to what they would pay for, we both had fairly decent scholarships/grants and we were responsible for books and living expenses and they in turn paid for our undergrad degrees. I was on my own for grad school (grad assistantship for one, and loans for the second) I am so thankful to my parents for helping me, because not all parents can do that–and I’m a lot less in debt because of that.

        Parental advice: as we know from my handle/past posts, I’m a high school teacher. I had students in tears and sobbing last year because they couldn’t apply for junior college on their own; couldn’t fill out FAFSA on their own; and wanted mom/dad to help them register. Not a bulk of my students, but enough of my students that we had a “you need to cut the chord” talk. Twice. Don’t get me started on searching for jobs, again not most of the kids but enough of the minority that it is something I have to address because parents think they can do this: “No, your mom can’t sit in the interview with you, no matter what she wants.” “No your mom shouldn’t call the potential employer.” “No your dad shouldn’t be your reference.”

        1. Anonymous*

          I agree with you generally, but as far as I remember, high school students actually do need their parents to fill out the FAFSA with them – FAFSA does not care whether your parents are willing to help you pay for college, you still have to fill in all their financial info.

          Of course, the parents should only be filling out the parent section of the FAFSA.

          1. TR*

            Yeah, my mom always took care of the FAFSA for us – it’s like a page and my parents have always said that their income is their business, not ours (though I have a pretty good idea of what their income is year to year.) They saved money for our college, we saved money for our college through livestock projects, and they helped with some living expenses while we took out loans and jobs to cover the rest of tuition/books/housing. We ended up with a reasonable amount in loans and good educations.

          2. Liz*

            Yeah. My mother was having issues and the school had to CALL her to get the FAFSA information because I couldn’t help her do it. I am sooooo lucky they bothered.

          3. Data Monkey*


            Unless the students can be classified as “independent,” then they will need their parents’ financial information to fill out the FAFSA.

          4. Mic*

            I would like to point out how essential it is to be on good terms with your parents to get any sort of federal loan. My parents kicked me out after my first semester of college and made it clear that I was getting no help from them. I was able to finish my school year with a loan and a scholarship but only because my FAFSA still included my parents’ information. When I tried to reapply it needed new information and I couldn’t get a loan without it. You can’t get around this until you are 26 or married so I was screwed. So I guess the moral of this story is to save up for your kid’s education if you plan on leaving them high and dry.

      2. Hilary*

        I cannot agree more!

        1. I did move to a “better job market” – unfortunately, that “better job market” was filled with employers who felt that because their colleagues across the country were in hiring freezes and paying lower wages, they could too. I spent the first 8 months gaining experience at a very low paying job while barely scraping by (with my nearest friends/family a 4-hour and $600 plane ride away…meaning I had no immediate support). I did eventually luck out and get into a position with a much higher pay rate that was more in line with what I wanted. While it did work out eventually, it wasn’t as easy as rolling into town and saying “Oh hey, everyone, I’m here for that fantastic job you promised me)

        2. I was only able to relocate for said job because I graduated debt-free. How? Yes, I had scholarships, I’ve also had one, if not several, part-time jobs since I was 15, and my parents paid my tuition for me. Similar to what A Teacher had, my parents paid my tuition and I took care of anything else (living expenses, books, clothing). If I couldn’t afford it, I waited for Christmas or Birthdays to roll around.

        As a former University admissions assistant and campus tour guide (which paid my rent in my 3rd and 4th years) I encountered many “helicopter parents”. The problem IS NOT parents who assist their students financially when needed, it’s the ones who coddle their children and don’t allow them to do anything for themselves or learn any responsibility.

        As a side note, I have many friends who got a “full ride” from their parents for University, and the smartest thing I saw was one mom who gave her son an “allowance” of sorts – starting in first year she would give him a sum of what she was giving for the term, he would have to give her his full budget for all his expenses for that term and she would give him the money on the last day of the month, just like a job that pays monthly would. Granted, he didn’t always use it properly, but it was a great financial management lesson for him and by fourth year he was saving a ton of money and living successfully on the money he was given (also teaches a lot about priorities…want to use your grocery money for a case of beer? Be prepared to mooch off your friends or go hungry!)

    2. Anonymous*

      My first degree was chemistry and physics with all the supporting math, a stiff course with lectures and labs adding up to a lot of hours. Having my parents’ support meant that I was able to put in the extra work and energy needed to get scholarships in my third and fourth year, and then go to grad school on a competitive studentship. There’s a feedback loop here.

  9. Nicole*

    Listen to Allison’s advice. For the 1st time in 28 years I am looking for a new job and it is COMPLETELY different from my prior searches. Your job experience mirrors what I have seen with my children’s friends who are recent college graduates, even those from prestigious ivy league schools. The delays that the new charter school is experiencing are normal. My guess is that working at a new charter school will be fun and you will get wonderful experience that wouldn’t be available at an institution that was already established. Congradulations on your new position and enjoy the opportunity and the students.

    1. Job Seeker*

      Nicole, I understand completely. I am also trying to re-enter the job market after being at home for a long time. Congratulations to the OP on her new job from another mom. My son is a recent college graduate majoring in chemical engineering. He is preparing for his professional engineering exam to be taken in the fall. He recently was hired this year and I am very proud of him. Nicole, you are right this job market is so very different from when I started out. I can see this from both sides. I think as a job seeker, I understand more how much of a challenge this is for the young graduates.

  10. JessA*

    AAM, I frequently hear in the news / media that we’re going through the recovery. I’m just curious, what are your thoughts on this? If you don’t mind my asking.

    1. JT*

      I’m not an economist (though I took graduate-level economics courses a long time ago)…so take this with a grain of salt.

      What you have to ask about when the news media reports we’re in a recovery is “For who/for what?” The stock market being up is a sign of recovery, but it doesn’t always correlate with improvements in the job market. The market can be up because profits are up, not because more people are working.

      And the job markets improvements are very uneven. Unemployment is really bad in parts of the country, and less so in others. It’s worse for low wage workers and people who have been out of work for a long time.

      And even the unemployment rate falling doesn’t always mean things are getting better for job seekers because the unemployment rate only takes into consideration people looking for work. If people give up even looking, they’re not measured, so the rate falls even though the situation is worse.

      Overall, we’re not in much of a recovery for job seekers (though it depends on your field and location). Here’s a nice recent graphic showing the weakness of this “recovery” in terms of job – that’s the bar called “payroll”:


    2. Liz*

      I’m not an economist either, but I read the Economist sometimes (or at least skim the pile – god they deliver the thing EVERY WEEK).

      Reportedly the recovery is now proceeding at the same pace and degree as the post-2001 recovery from the tech boom, but now it affects more sectors (housing debt = big ouch for a consumer-based economy) and the downturn was much more severe so it takes a lot longer.

      Although they also said the economy would be crushed by high inflation and spiraling gas prices this year, and that didn’t happen at all, so who knows?

      1. Liz*

        Wait – some of that was from the Wall Street Journal. I dunno. Apparently a lot of people say a lot of things about the recovery…

          1. JLH*

            Expect meager times until the government is able to find a way to infuse a LOT of cash into the economy through employment and production/projects. We really didn’t get out of the Great Depression until WWII, when the highest income tax rates got up 94% and the War Department created a lot of jobs both directly through the military and more indirectly with production of ammunition and vehicles.

    3. Adam*

      I’m no expert, but I know someone who follows this stuff on his own time and is very intelligent in these matters. He put it very simply: “Does it feel like we’re recovering?” The answer will vary from person of course, but the average person when they think about it I’m guessing will say no.

      Not to say that things aren’t improving in any respect, but right now it’s at a near soul-crushingly slow rate.

      1. Jamie*

        This. And it’s so different from field to field and market to market.

        For me, in 2008-2009 most in my industry/region were desperately trying to avoid layoffs and stay in the black. Hiring was limited to replacing key positions when vacated. Now, we’ve seen a significant uptick in hiring for the entry and intermediate positions across the board.

        That doesn’t mean the economy is in good shape overall, I’m not unaware that we’re still in trouble as a nation, but it illustrates that there are pockets of private industry who are seeing some relief.

        1. Adam*

          Very true. And the feel of the economy is much more than whether you have a good or at least reliable job. My job isn’t exciting or highly paid by any stretch of the American imagination, but it meets my needs without requiring additional income. But it’s still hard not to feel the sluggishness of the economy when I go to fill up my gas tank or getting sticker shock at the grocery store when I’m just getting what most would consider basic staples like chicken, milk, cheese, bread, and veggies.

  11. Sarah*

    I agree! I’m in a similar situation finishing graduate school. I was thrilled to get a paid internship in the field I want to go into, and my mom made a comment about, “how that’s the amount she used to pay the babysitter.” You will do fine.

  12. perrik*

    Ah, parents and their job search advice… bless their hearts.

    OP, you may have a great opportunity to learn how to do all sorts of things at this startup charter. I bet they’re going to need some help in marketing, fundraising, grant writing, research into compliance issues, community relations, and a slew of other areas.

  13. I Believe*

    I graduated with my MBA last December and was hired by a college in October (2 months prior) with the understanding that I would complete it. My pay was negotiated to 45k. I was 28 (now 29). I had about 1 1/2 years experience in this field assisting someone (with only my BA). Now I’m in charge and it feels great. There are better jobs out there for new graduates but you’ve gotta fight for em and make sacrifices. I moved three hours away from my husband, he comes to me 3 of 7 days of the week. It is a sacrifice but they just let my boss go, gave me his responsibilities and more pay. I guess what I’m getting at is that your mom is sort of right… Don’t sell yourself short. Take the job and get everything out of it that you can… The most important thing you can do is never stop learning. Find a specialization in your field that you enjoy and focus on that. Best of luck.

  14. Anonymous*

    Story of my life. I graduated in May and havent been able to find a full time job related to what I would like to do. However just this week I got an offer for an unpaid internship. I figured I had to start somewhere. And I received that same advice from my parents. They are not very happy that I an not getting paid, but you guys are right they dont really have a clear understanding about the horrible job market we are in. And horrible it is.

  15. Kimberley*

    Please extend your “butt out” advice to college/university professors too. I get so frustrated when talking to recent grads who were taught that because they now have a degree that they should start as middle managers and/or be earning a minimum of $60k / year.

    Take it from someone who has worked in recruiting for over a decade, AND who grew up with a professor as a parent – they do not know what the real world job market is like.

    There’s nothing wrong with starting at the bottom and working your way up. In fact, it’s usually the people in those roles who get to know everyone in the company – think of it as networking!

    To the OP – your job sounds great!

    1. Anonymous*

      What’s driving me nuts is that I was taught growing up that you ALWAYS make crap money for years out of college. That you get an undergrad and then you make like $20-30k maybe, if you were careful enough to get a full time job.

      Now all the people I know with jobs make at least $60k, and then the rest of us can’t find work at all (or only retail/waiting tables type work). There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it, the only thing they have in common was that they were raised being told that was what would happen. Many did not grow up privileged, either. I feel like the people who set my standards low actually did me a great disservice in some ways.

      1. Liz*

        To be fair, what’s driving me nuts is that after taking an entry level job and working for peanuts, the ladder to higher-paying work has been chopped.

        Earn too much and you’re the first to be laid off. Age past 42 and you’re unhireable. Increase your skills by attending grad school, and you’re over-qualified when you try to get back into the market.

        Not to mention there are lots of things -illness, pregnancy, moves for a spouse in the military – that can interfere with the initial entry-level jobs anyway.

        It’s like the job market is a video game and employers have upped the skill-level required to reach mid-five-figures to a level that can only be achieved by the kind of gamers who never leave the house.

        1. Liz*

          I now forget why I started that with “to be fair.” I think I planned to type something else, but overall I was agreeing with you that the market is weird.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          For what it’s worth, while those things are often true, there are often times when they’re not true at all. I’d caution people against getting into the mindset that this is just how it works now — it’s certainly not always how it works.

          It’s helpful to be aware that these things are a piece of the landscape while simultaneously knowing you’re not trapped by them.

          1. Jamie*

            Thank you for making this point. If these were absolutes then everyone over 42 who makes decent money would just be waiting to get laid off, and then remain forever unemployed as we couldn’t ever get another job.

            I do think it’s important to be aware of possible issues, so you’re prepared, but it’s also important to acknowledge the differences due to region, field, etc. which come into play when assessing the viability of pursuing a given path.

            It’s also important to remember that we’re all individuals. Hiring managers and candidates are more than a sum of statistics.

          2. Liz*

            I like that.

            I think a clear, honest description is the first step to fixing a situation – as well as the most compassionate thing for people who might be trapped in that situation and deserve better than “Oh just work at it and spellcheck your resume!” (Or whatever generic cheer non-AAM writers like to spread).

            There usually isn’t’ room to spell out a policy fix and this isn’t the blog :) But I do think things will improve if employers have different incentives. Right now it’s all short-term profit motive and “shareholder value” with very few penalties or rules to prevent things like Libor manipulation. That can change.

            Also, obviously, individual results may vary :)

    2. Rana*

      Actually, they often don’t know what the *academic* job market is like, either! I had so many of my former professors utterly convinced that it was only a matter of time before a golden tenure-track job opened up for me, because it had been like that in their time. The oldest ones were especially bad, because they remembered when all it took was for their advisor to call a colleague at another institution and put in a good word, and them, voila! hired.

      Nope, sorry, doesn’t work like that any more.

      1. Anonymous*

        Many professors are clueless because not only have they not been job hunting in a long long time, they themselves have had tenure for years. So the chances of them ever losing their jobs/income is very slim – they are very sheltered and lose sight of that. They just don’t get it. Some are not even on LinkedIn themselves and/or have at best a vague idea of what LinkedIn is – how can anyone so out of it give job hunting and career advice to anyone?

  16. Liz*

    1) Congratulations on the new job! That is a real accomplishment!

    2) I agree that parents probably don’t know much about this market, but the mother in this story does have a point: Her daughter is being paid too little to leave home AFTER spending tens of thousands (or, gulp, six figures) to qualify for employment.

    I wouldn’t turn down the job, definitely not. But the mother’s overall point is that market rates for trained professionals have fallen below the standard of living.

    That’s worth notice.

    And we don’t know that the job is really entry-level entry level either, or if it’s one of the new hybrid of three job descriptions for employees who were let go because they’re “too expensive” that have been popping up in my area as well.

    Maybe the daughter should pay attention to the overall point – which seems pretty sound – and forget the specifics in the advice that are based on outdated experience?

    1. Anon in the UK*

      While I completely agree with you re salaries for new graduates not covering standards of living, I don’t know that this is a useful or a helpful point for the mother to make.

    2. Job Seeker*

      Liz, I am always impressed with your insight. I am a middle-age mom myself and you seem to see both sides to situations. Sometimes, our generation wants the best for our children and our experiences aren’t relative to today’s market. As a job seeker, I wish the OP the very best and congratulations on her new job.

        1. Andrew*

          And maybe you should stop assuming that all parental advice is outdated. They are likely from the same generation that will be hiring and managing you. Will you feel similarly free to ignore your manager’s advice because she is (gasp !) old?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Listening to your manager at work because they’re your manager and presumably know what they want from you and listening to someone give job search advice when they don’t have much expertise/experience in it are two entirely different things.

            1. Andrew*

              Oh, I agree. It’s just the sneering and nastiness lurking below the surface of this post that annoyed me.

              1. Job Seeker*

                I agree Andrew this poster was a bit nasty. I am a mom of a son that is a recent graduate. I am also in the job market right now. Thankfully, my son has gotten a very good job recently. I don’t think every parent from “my” generation is pushing outdated advice on their children. I understand the job market from a personal viewpoint and I congratulate the OP on her job. It is tough out there. Shame on you Boina Roja for implying everyone from “my” generation thinks alike.

    3. Anonymous*

      The hourly rate given suggests that she’ll be making about $20K a year, if it’s a full-time, year-round job. Of course, since it’s at a charter school, it might not be year-round and it might not be full time either.

      I’ve been living on that for roughly the last 7 years in grad school. All my grad school peers are getting about the same rate.

      $20K a year is enough to have an apartment with a room mate (or an apartment of your own that’s really tiny or in a bad part of town), pay for your own food, your own car, and your own utilities. It’s not a point where you’ll be living large. You can own a small house at that salary. It’s not a good salary to support another person on (let alone children!), but that can be done in a pinch.

      As long as you aren’t trying to take frequent expensive vacations, buying expensive cars, or trying to afford all the top-end gadgets (I’m looking at you, smart phones!) it’s a very livable income. It only ventures over to poverty-level if she’s trying to support a family of 4 on it.

      I think a lot of you have a very skewed idea of a livable wage, and a lot of new college graduates aren’t very good at prioritizing needs over wants. The only friends of mine who’ve gotten into trouble on that kind of income are the ones who insist on owning every fancy new Apple product, lots of expensive clothes, or an expensive sports car, and then find they can’t always afford food/electricity at the end of the month.

      1. Jamie*

        After taxes it’s a take home of about 15,600. In many parts of the country with rents being as high as they are, I can’t see how that’s manageable alone no matter how frugally one lives.

        ITA about the wisdom of differentiating between wants and needs – that is great advice. I would, however, urge caution about anyone moving out on their own at that income level if there are other options.

        1. K.*

          Yeah, I’ve never lived anywhere where home ownership would be even close to possible on $20K a year gross, as this Anonymous suggests. I have lived places where even living with roommates in a bad neighborhood (and one shouldn’t compromise on safety if one can help it) would still mean you’re running a deficit at the end of the month on that salary, after rent and necessities – and I’m not counting premium cable, designer clothes, or a car payment on a new car (I actually often forget that cars are necessities for some – city dweller) as necessities, either. To say it’s “enough to have an apartment with a room mate (or an apartment of your own that’s really tiny or in a bad part of town), pay for your own food, your own car, and your own utilities” is not universally true, at all.

        1. Anonymous*

          You could do I were I’m from (midwest, not a small town), and I know people who’ve done it. Of course finding a job here that’s not manual labor (construction and the like) that pays $10/hour or more is hard. However at that salary it only takes something very small to begin the downward spiral towards bankruptcy too.

        2. Kat M*

          I supported myself and my husband on $10.30 an hour in Ohio. I took home a lot of leftover food from what the kids I was working with were eating almost every day, started line-drying our clothes so we wouldn’t have to spend the $1.50 to have them machine dried, got our loans deferred, went to Planned Parenthood for my few medical needs (no insurance), and went back to work the Monday after I got married instead of going on a honeymoon. It SUCKED. But it’s theoretically possible.

      2. Liz*

        Ditto to Jamie – and seriously there is a middle ground between living on $1100 a month and feeling deprived by not driving a sports car.

      3. Anonymous*

        What about those pesky student loans? Most of us have to pay at least $200 a month on those!

      4. Liz in a Library*


        I live in a very low-cost-of-living place, and I seriously struggled when I was making ~15k a year net. I’m talking 300 sq. ft. apartment, walking to work (luckily in walking distance, because it was a crapshoot whether I would be able to gas my beater car each week), eating like a king in the summers because it was moving season and I could volunteer to help in exchange for getting the food that my friends were going to pitch rather than take with them…

        I had a $400/month student loan bill, and $450/month rent (included water, but no electricity). I didn’t have health insurance; if I was sick, I just desperately hoped it would clear up on its own. I almost lost my car insurance several times because I was unable to pay. The money runs out very quickly. I do not miss that fear at all.

        If you are able to live comfortably on $20k gross, I’m pretty impressed with you.

      5. Heather*

        I live in NJ. A “small house” here in a crappy neighborhood will run you at LEAST $180k. A decent neighborhood with crappy schools (which is where I live) will be anywhere from $200-$300k. A decent neighborhood with decent schools? You are looking at $300k+ at a minimum, and that’s with the market in the toilet. Plus, our property taxes are insane. If you cut my mortgage + property tax payment in HALF, it would still be $1,200, which is likely more than you’d net each month on a $20k salary. So no, it is not possible to own a house of any size (probably not even a trailer) on that amount in this area, even if you are the most frugal person in the world.

  17. ruby*

    Ignoring your parents is easier said than done, especially if you are living at home and/or if they paid a substantial amount of money for your education. They can’t be treated like intrusive strangers who have no business poking around in your life, without perhaps unpleasant ramifications.

    If you are living at home and are facing the prospects of never hearing the end of this (oh lord I remember those days…), I think you need to give it a shot to have a serious talk with your mom. Have you sat down with your mom and really talked this through? Told her how difficult it is for you and your peers to find first jobs and how thrilled you are to be able to get your foot in the door and start your career path? And how bad it makes you feel that she’s not excited for you too? She’s your mom and she’s coming from a different place than anyone else you know would – she wants the best for you and she may be upset if she thinks you are settling. And if your parents are either subsidizing you now because you live at home and/or paid a substantial amount of money for your education, there may be some frustartion about the financial aspect.

    And if your mom isn’t working right now, then it may truly be impossible for her to understand how bad the job market is. even people who understand the job market and the terrible situation with unemployment can still be judgemental about the unemployed/underemployed. As bad as the job situation is, there are many people who think that no matter what, good people can find good jobs in any economy and if people are unemployed, it’s not only because the job market is so bad, it’s something about them as well.

    So my advice is different from a lot of what has been said here. This is your mom and you need to treat her differently than you would some random person reacting this way to your job situation. In my opinion, it’s really helpful to try and understand where someone else is coming from when there’s a situation like this — not because they are right (your mom is absolutely wrong about this) but because understanding what’s driving their reaction can be helpful in addressing it.

    This is part of the process of growing up and becoming an adult, you need to forge a different relationship with your parents, where you treat them with respect but also make it clear that you make your own decisions and are not going to OK with those decisions being constantly criticized. It becomes trickier to make that transition if you are still at all finanicially dependent on them.

    Even if your mom doesn’t come around on this, know that you are lucky to have found this job and get an opportunity to start your career and you should be very excited and proud of yourself :)

    1. NicoleW*

      Great point!
      OP – your mom may be seeing this as both a low-paying and unstable position. If you haven’t already, it would be good to discuss her views and share why you are excited about the job. Maybe some of her concerns are things you can alleviate. Her expectations of pay scale though, are completely off for any kind of arts or admin entry level positions. Heck, I’ve been in my job for 7 years and barely make more than $18/hr!

  18. Nethwen*

    I have a job that prefers me to have a masters degree (I do) and it pays less than $9/hr. Granted, I have benefits, but yeah, $10/hr sounds good to me for starting out. Parents really do need to do their research and then not only accept whatever advice they find that is in line with what they already think.

    1. Candice*

      My parents were the same way until my mother was laid off last year. It took her almost a year-and-a-half to find a job…by that point she was looking at seasonal hire jobs for minimum wage.

      I think we had these ideas of what college would mean for us and so did our parents, but the market right now is just painful, degree or not degree. Unless you’re out in it, really in the trenches without a job and looking for one, I think you just don’t understand how rough it is out there.

      Congrats on your new job!

  19. Sandrine*

    Oh, parents and the job search.

    My mom told me for a few years that I should get into computer/programming/IT work… just because she noticed I’m a geek and “love that stuff” and surely I could make something out of it. Yeah, so, I love that computer and it surely helps to know my way around one for many jobs, but IT work itself ? No thank you :P .

    One day I even think she sabotaged an attempt to become a sales clerk in a wedding dress shop, and I resented that for years. I told my Mom that I love her, and I appreciate that she wants “the best for me” , but I will do what I have to do and I won’t accept “just any job” , even if the job doesn’t pay as much as she thinks it should.

    Now I’m 29 and I still dont know what I want to be “when I’m grown up” (it makes my boyfriend laugh when I say that but it’s the only way to say it!) but I know to identify what I can/cannot do in job postings. It’s mostly administrative work and sales (read “cashier” ha) but I don’t care because I don’t want a high-stress job anyway.

    At least, I know one goal : to be a productive member of society, no matter which part of the ladder I’m on :D .

  20. Hilary*

    I graduated from a very specialized program from a well-know University in June 2011. I was placed on a well-paying, 6-month contract which started while I was finishing my degree and I had a lot of prior work experience above-and-beyond what most of the people I know had. In short: I thought I was a superstar.

    Then my contract finished (it was based on a one-time event that was happening that summer, so no chance for renewal, which I knew going in) and it was almost impossible for me to find work.

    My partner had recently moved across the country for work and I went to visit him for a month, justifying that I had saved a ton of money and hadn’t had a break from working since I was 15. I figured I’d take the time to re-work my resume and apply selectively to jobs. The city my partner moved to is known in Canada to be one of the few places NOT hit by the recession, and as a result, I got interviews and a job almost immediately after applying. The kicker? Even with all the experience I thought I had, all these jobs were very low paying and didn’t offer much in experience.

    Still, I worked my way through a position for 8 months, trying to gain experience where ever I could. I also volunteered for several organizations to make connections, not everyone has time for this, but I did and it worked great! Eventually I received an offer for the exact position I wanted.

    The key thing I learned: no one cares about your degree, no one cares what you majored in, and no one is going to pay more than they have to. Even a low-paying job, is still a job and is helping you gain experience and make connections.

    Especially with a new school, there’s a good chance new positions will be opening up as things get going. Try your hardest and do good work and it will only help you in the long run!

    Good luck, OP, and congratulations on getting a job!

    1. Mike C.*

      “The key thing I learned: no one cares about your degree, no one cares what you majored in,”

      I beg to differ. Telling folks that I majored in math has opened so many, many doors for me. Half of the interviews I received were because they recognized the school I went to.

      1. Hilary*

        I was referring more to the “and I double majored in college!” to most employers, this means nothing (some might be impressed, but, from my experience, most don’t even notice).

    2. Kimberley*

      I’m inferring that you moved to Calgary. You’re right the job market, while better than the rest of the country, has changed a lot. Good for you for sticking it out and finding your dream job!

      1. Hilary*

        Thank you, and good guess! I did move to Calgary! The job market is a lot better than Ontario (where I’m from) but it’s still not easy.

  21. Adam*

    My mom used to try to give me job search advice. Since she ran her own business you’d think she’d have some good insights to share. But her business was a family style restaurant and most of her staff were teenagers/young college aged people. Also she ran this business for nearly three decades. It had been a LONG time since she’d seen what job hunting was really like.

    Now she just sends me job postings, which are usually just good for a laugh. The most recent one would need me to move back to close to where she lives which she’s always wanted me to do (even though she’s planning on moving eight hours away from there by the end of the year), would have me working with children (which is pretty much the last thing I’d ever want to do), and was only part-time. Now we just have a good time teasing her how every time she tries to help me how spectacularly she manages to flub it.

    1. Jaci*

      My mother-in-law would sent job clippings to my husband with the salaries circled with red exclamation points. They were all for occupational therapists.

      Too bad he’s a mental health therapist.

      It took a couple of years before she finally realized they were completely different fields.

        1. Anonymous*

          I can picture your mother going “but don’t you work with rocks in both positions? *blank, puzzled but good-natured “I only want to help my baby” look on her face*

          1. Anonymous*

            I forgot to add the :).

            Gotta love parents. They always want the best for you, but don’t always understand that things change.

          1. Lo*

            These comments remind me of the puzzled glazed over expressions on people’s faces I got usually accompanied with “You’re highly qualified” when I spent time out of work in 2012. If you were from Mars you would think I knew nothing about my degree (maths) or industry (finance) based on the rude way people told me what to do. Most of it was stupid stuff like “you’re brilliant with computers and there’s loads of jobs in IT”.

  22. BL*

    I must take a minute to rave about my parents because they have given me fantastic advice and because they are fantastic people. Neither of my parents went to college but they sent three daughters. They didn’t pay for school because they couldn’t but they sent care packages and pizza gift cards. Through a strange turn of events all three of us graduated at the same time and were all looking for “grown up jobs”. They gave us advice like “Be honest. Represent yourself in a way that makes you proud. When you step out of an interview, its out of your hands so quit thinking about it. Be the kind of person you would want to work with. Don’t be afraid to work hard.” They knew enough to realize that they didn’t know the specifics. They were thrilled when I landed a position in my field. They were also thrilled when my sister, a licensed teacher, accepted a job at a daycare because she couldn’t find a teaching position. My parents taught us to be responsible and that sometimes you have to accept a lower position because bills have to be paid. Three weeks later when my sister was offered a teaching position, they encouraged her to take it. She left the daycare on good terms and was offered a summer position if she ever wanted it. Basically my parents taught us to be good human beings because good human beings make good employees.

    1. Adam*

      Very down to Earth parents. This is what parents need to be teaching their kids about growing up and getting into the adult world.

      1. BL*

        For what its worth, the tried to help other parents with this but it was often too little too late. They did a parents session at freshmen orientation for a college for several years in a row. They would talk about all of things students needed to know to survive college and beyond. Basic things like how to balance a checkbook, how to do laundry, how to find information (ie Do I need to talk to the Academic Dean or Director of Student Life about X?), how to schedule your their own appointments, etc. It was shocking how many students moved into the dorms completely unprepared.

    2. Jamie*

      You do have wonderful parents. It also sounds like they have pretty great kids.

      Funny how often one begets the other.

    3. Lo*

      The best thing about is that it sounds like your parents don’t overstep the mark – that’s all I wanted – an acknowledgment that even if my Dad used to interview candidates he’s still out of his depth when it comes to careers as he retired in the 1990s.

      What worries me is will current jobseekers learn the real lesson i.e. 20/30 years from now there’s bound to be enough changes in the market that I’ll have to tone down my advice. I can see parents naively thinking “I went through the recession I know job hunting”. Reality though is that already I see a shocking number of 20/30 somethings already out of touch with an onbnoxiousness about them just because things have worked out – it’s usually in the form of giving advice based on their own fairytale of how they got into their own job. Again back to parroting off the wrong advice for the wrong career and from the wrong time.

      I think the only difference we will see is that there will be a lot more parents that get the idea that you have to do your own thing and less “You haven’t got a job yet?” types.

  23. Anonymous*

    (This post is not directed at the OP but at some of the posts that have been posted in the discussion.)

    Too many recent college graduates want to ignore the advice of their parents BUT continue to benefit from living off of their parents. Yes the job market sucks but who choose the major that you took? Who selected the school that you attended? Did you take the time to investigate your job opportunities that would be available after you earned your degree? Did you compare that to the debt load you would have coming out of school? Did you change majors mid way through school and increase the amount of debt you have by extending your time in school?

    Its easy to ignore the advice to find a “good” job but did you also ignore the earlier advice and do what you wanted and expect them to support you after you ignored their advice regarding your major/school, etc.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree with this, but an awful lot of college students are given terrible guidance — led to believe that a degree will lead straight to a job, not given enough info about the types of jobs a particular degree will qualify them for, etc. Now, it’s certainly true that they should in theory investigate this stuff themselves, but it’s natural at that age to trust the adults around you who are giving you guidance and to assume they know what they’re talking about.

      1. The IT Manager*


        I can be cocky and comment on picking an employable degree, but I started out as an aerospace engineer and changed my major to computer science after less than a year because that’s what I wanted to study. (Seriously, it’s cool to understand how things work! Why don’t more people want to study STEM?) I changed from aerospace egnineering (which I picked because I wanted to be an astronaut) to computer science because I didn’t want to do math on a daily basis not because the aerospace industry was in trouble in the early 90s although I knew that too.

        My professinal career has worked out pretty well for me, but I can look back and recognize I made my good choices for exceedingly bad reasons. 18 year olds’ brains are not fully mature, they don’t have much/any real work experience, and get a lot of bad advice even from well meaning people.

        So … what anonymous says is true, but a lot of teenagers have no way of understanding these facts of the matter.

        1. Doug*

          I graduated with a Liberal Arts degree. I wanted to base that foundation for a later tenure in medical school, but the pre-requisites killed me. I tried as hard as I could to succeed in those courses, practically lived in my professors’ offices, and completed the study guides cover to cover, but I just was told by numerous professors that I just wasn’t meant for it. When I showed them my work in my liberal arts courses, they saw I was much more talented and had more of a passion in that, so they recommended that I go back to that full-time.

          Let me say how much I HATE, repeat, HATE, when people knock me down for being a liberal arts graduate. You think I don’t know that my degrees have given me a bit of a disadvantage in the job market? Do you know how hard I wanted to make those pre-med requisites work? Do you know how depressed I got and how much weight I lost from stress alone because all my efforts weren’t translating to results?

          So yes, I did go that route, yes, I wanted to get into medical school for psychiatry because I knew I could make much more money than my degree in English. Unfortunately, I was told that I wasn’t cut out for it despite my best efforts, and that really, really hurt. I didn’t choose my major because I wanted to be lazy, or because I wanted to party for four years. I worked HARD (I have a tough time with classroom learning, so it takes me more effort than most people to get the material.)

          It really sucks being good at and liking a field that lands on the lower-end of the employment spectrum. It hurts even more when you try to get something more employable but fail. I hope some of you realize that. It really did a number on my depression.

          Sorry, I needed to rant.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            No one is blaming you for the English degree! I was an English major too.

            The problem I was referring to is that many/most college students aren’t given clear info on how what they’re studying will translate into jobs later, and then are shocked when they graduate and realize that the path isn’t as direct as they might have assumed. Schools (and maybe parents too) do a really bad job, generally, of informing kids of how this stuff will lead (or not lead) to jobs later.

            1. Laura*

              +1. NOTHING is wrong with a liberal art degree. I just encourage those pursueing one to HAVE A PLAN. If you want to go into education at any level, plan for it. If you want to go into HR, or Business, or Law school with it, have internships to back it up.

              I know way too many “art history majors” that have never stepped inside a museum or auction house for an internship. Those art history major friends of mine that DID get internships every single summer are gainfully employed in their field.

            2. NicoleW*

              I took a fascinating Adolescent Psychology course in college. We studied a bit about how US high schools and culture don’t prepare students for work or even for understanding what jobs they would be good at or enjoy. For many types of jobs there are not internships or apprenticeships at the high school level. But yet, we expect students to choose a path to study in college without ever having done hands-on work. This is not to say that students shouldn’t be expected to do some research on their own, but it’s hard to understand what the day-to-day in most fields would be when you are 18. (Also, as this was several years before any economic slowdown was even a glimmer, we didn’t really touch on “employable” careers.)
              I know for me, my absolute favorite subjects to learn about were/are history and child psychology, but I did research on what jobs to do in those fields and none of them appealed to me.

          2. moss*

            I’m so sorry, that must have been frustrating!

            Have you considered counselling psychology? You could still help people, and the job market is pretty steady…

            1. NicoleW*

              I ended up in a different field with a bad job market. ;)
              I have wanted to work in entertainment for as long as I can remember, but I was trying to major in something that would give me a back up plan. I did a fair amount of volunteering in theaters and children’s camps as a teen to know I would enjoy that field. It was coming up with something else I enjoyed that proved challenging!

      2. Rana*

        Plus, it’s not always a straight line between degrees and careers, no matter what the “why did you pick a useless major like ___” chorus says. For example, one of my favorite doctors got her undergraduate degree in history. I know librarians with biology degrees, and scientists with lit degrees, and IT folks with art degrees.

        And even if right now there’s a demand for degrees in Chocolate Teapot Making, it may be that four years from now the industry has moved on to Almond Roca Coffeepots, or that now the demand is for people who know the ins and outs of Robot Octopus Virtual Pets.

        1. K.*

          Exactly – things change. It used to be that a law degree meant a secure career, and we all know how bad the market is for lawyers. (I know so many unemployed lawyers. Every lawyer I know, to a one, even if they ARE making that giant BigLaw salary, will tell anyone who is thinking of going to law school, “Don’t do it. Do. Not. Do. It.”)

          Not to mention that if everyone follows the advice to study engineering, there will be too many engineers (or teapot makers, or whatever). An over-saturated market is bad no matter what.

        2. Anonymous*

          Hopefully the student choose a degree that gives them future flexibility…and not a degree that was limited to start with before times changed and made it even less favorable.

        3. JT*

          ” “why did you pick a useless major like ___” ”

          The proper answer is “It’s not useless, it’s interesting to me [with appropriate details].”

          Liberal arts is about becoming an educated person who can learn things throughout life. It’s not about getting a job directly based on what you learned.

    2. Anonymous*

      I agree with AAM on this one. As someone who is a few years out of school, it is rare that an 18yr old is thinking abou tthe amount of loans they are taking out, or what job they are going to have out of school, etc. An 18 yr old is more exciting about leaving home for the first time and the freedom of doing that.

  24. RunGirlRunLA*

    Let’s give a whole new meaning to the Latin term “in loco parentis”, shall we?

    Congrats on the new position!

    A few words of caution, though, about working for a charter school organization: you might actually find out a few months down the road that you’re really working with “a bunch of monkeys”, even if the administrators have been open with you about the changes and delays. Having taught in both public and charter high schools, my colleagues and I know how it is to work with directors who place threats on teachers in order to polish the school’s reputation (as in, changing Fs to higher grades), or face not getting our contracts renewed. Nobody, from Teacher of the Year to the custodian, was safe from the administration’s “policies” and the anxious environment that we faced every day. That was separate from teaching some of the worst, lowest-performing kids in the city. The secretaries actually served as quasi-discipline deans for the principal, on top of their other duties.

    Not all charter schools are horrible, but the freedoms and flexibilities they have in budgets, hiring and decision-making can have negative consequences on an entire staff. Hopefully, your school is nothing like that.

    In the meantime, take on your new job with gusto, and learn all that you can as quickly as possible. You’ll be well-positioned to find a job that offers a higher salary and better benefits.

    1. Liz*

      This: “Not all charter schools are horrible, but the freedoms and flexibilities they have in budgets, hiring and decision-making can have negative consequences on an entire staff.”

      The friends I’ve had who worked at charter schools all pretty much said, “It wasn’t what I thought it would be.”

      1. NicoleW*

        In having researched several charter and magnet schools just this year for my child, they really run the gamut.
        We toured one that I imagine would be awful to work at. We toured at 6:30pm and the Kindergarten teacher was still there! Obviously teachers have work outside of classroom hours, but that seemed excessive. And the principal mentioned (in different words) the high turnover rate among teachers. And it was obvious everything was done on the cheap – I’m all for economizing, but the way the principal bragged about how he got this second hand, that from Freecycle, etc. were a red flag.
        The school we ended up choosing was much different. Really clear mission, a stellar and experienced board, well-kept facilities, organized sources of funding, good communication, etc.

  25. Steve G*

    OP – please tell us where you live, that would put this in perspective for alot of people. I grew up on Long Island and live in NYC so this looks like the school low-balled you. If you made $13-17/hr here as a new grad, I’d say its OK, more than that and you did great. I remember ten years ago when everyone made $40K after school. The inflation calculator says that is worth $51K today. This is sad….

  26. Anonymous*

    OP, congratulations on getting a job.

    As you look to move up in the world, one thing that might help is casting a wider net in your job search. You emphasize that you are looking for jobs locally. Don’t do that. You’re young and you don’t have a family or a mortgage to tie you to one spot. Look for a job farther away from your family. Living rent-free is nice, but if you want to go for higher-paying jobs where you can support yourself, then you’ll need to move to where the jobs are, not expect jobs to show up near you.

    Depending on your circumstances, it might not be feasible to move cross-country for a job, but even looking at the rest of the state (or nearby states) might help you find better job markets. On the other side of the coin, if you don’t have lots of possessions that you’re heavily attached to yet, this might be the best time of your life to look for jobs cross-country (or internationally, depending on your skills).

    I’m in Michigan, one of the worst spots in the economy. My friends who are willing to pick up and move to parts of the country that are better off have had an easier time of it than those determined to stay nearby for the sake of getting freebies from their parents.

  27. Anonymous*

    Get a second job simply for the sake of saving up some money. Look for shift work that wouldn’t conflict with your current job. I don’t know exactly how admin jobs at schools work, but if you’ll end up with reduced hours during the summers, you will have a very hard time staying afloat if you get a place of your own. A second job at, say, a grocery store, as a babysitter, or as a janitor might make it easier to live away from your parents. Look for a room mate, too, to split rent expenses (and perhaps food expenses) with.

  28. Another Anonymous*

    I think calling what parents are telling their kids “bad advice” would be an understatement. “Sabotage” would be more appropriate IMO. I’ve found AAMs blog to be invaluable for countering what my parents have told me about starting a career since finishing my masters degree a couple of years ago and often share the posts with them as ammunition–ammunition is really what you need when you’re up against people who are so staunch in their ideas.

    The OP’s dilemma I think is representative of our whole generation, not just specific to the recession. I faced the identical situation with my own parents all the way back in 2004 when I first graduated college. My parents talked me out of taking 3 different Americorps positions because they insisted that if I were going to work for anyone then I should get paid for it (now it’s nearly impossible for anyone to get their foot in the door with Americorps). Then when I found a full-time entry level research assistant job that paid $11 an hour (in 2005), they told me I was doing “scut work” for someone with a college degree and that it was a dead end job. It’s demoralizing. I really don’t think there’s anything we can do about the generation gap whereby parents who entered the workforce decades ago think that a college degree is all you need (but there’s still comfort in the excessive guilt trips we can put on our parents via the information on this blog….).

    1. Jamie*

      Wow. Sabotage is a deliberate intent to harm. Do you really believe parents are out to intentionally undermine their child’s future?

      Unlikely. Occams razor – there is plenty of well intentioned bad advice out there.

      Leaving the emotional desire of the vast majority of parents to see their children happy and successful – kids being self-supporting after school is in our best financial interests, too.

      Even the most cynical would admit that when it comes to meaning well parents should get the benefit of the doubt.

      1. Another Anonymous*

        I was using the word “sabotage” ironically more than anything else. Same for the references to the guilt trips. Maybe I should have clarified–though there are times when bad advice definitely feels like sabotage, regardless of the intent!

        1. Anonymous*

          Agreed. Like the old anti-bullying phrase – “impact, not intent”. Sure they’re well meaning, but it still feels like a kick when you’re down.

      2. Jennifer O*

        Late to the party, but I needed to say how much I love the reference to Occam’s razor. :)

        (I agree with the rest of your comment too.)

  29. Anonymous*

    The mom is in denial here and and is ignorant of the state of the job market. As are many job hunters these days! The OP has a good grasp of the reality of the situation she’s in and good for her. Congratulations on the new job!

    1. Job Seeker*

      Please don’t be too hard on this mother. I am a mom and I know she probably has the best intentions here. Your children are your heart and you want more for them than you do for yourself. I believe although the job searching has changed with the economy, many of the standards “my” generation have are still pretty good.

  30. Candice*

    My parents were the same way until my mother was laid off last year. It took her almost a year-and-a-half to find a job…by that point she was looking at seasonal hire jobs for minimum wage. I think we had these ideas of what college would mean for us and so did our parents, but the market right now is just painful. Unless you’re out in it, really in the trenches without a job and looking for one, I think you just don’t understand how rough it is out there.

    Congrats on your new job!

  31. K.*

    My dad went through a really rough patch later in his career – he took a risk that didn’t work out, lost a lot of money, and ended up unemployed for years afterward, in his late forties. (He got back on track because someone he used to work with gave him a break, and he’s doing very well now, a dozen years later.) So he’s very understanding and sympathetic to anyone who is un- or underemployed, regardless of age, degree, etc.

    HIS parents, though (God rest their souls), at the time, were like “So that didn’t work out. Go get another executive job. You have two degrees, what’s the problem?” My grandfather didn’t go to college but was employed every single day that he wanted to be, and retired comfortably and happily. My grandmother started her career in her forties (got a BA and master’s, then went to work) after her two sons were grown and was never unemployed until she retired. They were kids in big families in the Depression so you’d think they’d get it, but no. Totally well-meaning – they loved the hell out of their sons (and grandkids), but they just didn’t understand.

    So, hard as it might be, know two things: your parents ultimately want the best for you, and you should be proud of yourself for landing the job. Congratulations!

  32. Canadian mom*

    Actually, I have a problem with the headline of today re “ignore your parents”.

    Many parents don’t have detailed knowledge of the field that their child(ren) are getting into, but that doesn’t mean that they are completely ignorant of basics such as resume writing, doing a job search, interviewing etc. My sons have both landed good jobs in fields that late Dh and I had no familiarity with (so, no networking/getting hired by parents’ friends etc.). We did give them some sound advice though – isn’t that what parents do?

    1. Eevee*

      I think it really comes down to how knowledgeable the parents are with current job market situations, problems, and trends.

      My mom told me that it was okay to lie about my salary and work history because nobody checked those things anymore. She also thinks that I should have been able to get a full-time job with full benefits right out of college – which I’m sure some of my friends may have managed to do, but I recognize that there more qualified candidates than there are open positions, so I was less optimistic.

      My parents are from a drastically different cultural, educational, and generational background that means that most of their advice when it comes to jobs (and even higher education, for that matter) are off base, because they’re parroting advice from the wrong people and wrong places to me. I understand their good intentions, but I know better than to take their word for this type of stuff. Instead, I do lots of reading, follow AAM, and trust in my own ability to shine in the workplace.

      (Recently landed in a 39hr/wk part time position with no benefits, with a $3/hr salary bump after the 90-day probation period and potential to become full-time if I study for some tech industry-related certifications. Even at part time, the perks and benefits of my current job are great – and even though it’s not the “ideal job” that my parents wanted me to get, I’m more than satisfied with where my efforts have gotten me.)

  33. Anonymous*


    I am dealing with almost the EXACT same thing with my mom! I’ve been having trouble finding full-time work and right now, I have a part-time temp job at the local courthouse working for their HR department. The full-time employees get good benefits and decent wages, but my mom’s gunning for me to get a full-time job with them so I can get health insurance and a 401k. Problem is, I was told they might be able to make me permanent if they can work out the budget and if I did get a job, it would only be part time.

    I’m not picky about what job I can get, but she FLIPPED OUT when I told her it would only be part-time and no benefits, if I got it at all. She thinks that since I have a college degree, I should be given a decent paying job with awesome benefits. I think her view is skewed because she’s a nurse and has never been unemployed until recently when she went on disability retirement. She also thinks that our local McDonald’s is hiring. They’re not.

    It’s frustrating to get this from our parents because we want understanding, but all we’re getting is vitriol and claims of “laziness” and “entitlement” thrown our way. We really want to work and make ourselves useful to our country and our economy, but we’re just not getting the opportunities.

    I will show this post to my mom and hopefully she’ll see my side.

    1. Anonymous*

      I suspect something different. I bet that since she’s in medicine, she is horrified that you don’t have health insurance benefits. I had this discussion with one of my friend’s mothers recently. The friend’s mother signed her up (involuntarily) for Cobra coverage while she was between jobs. The friend complained about it, since she was young, in good health, and didn’t think she needed health insurance.

      The mother explained it this way: “I know she’s in good health, but it’s so easy for her to get in a n accident where she’d need expensive medical care. What she doesn’t understand is, as her parents, we would spend every penny we have to care for her if it was necessary. This health insurance isn’t to protect her assets in the event of an accident, since she doesn’t have much yet. It’s to protect our assets, our ability to retire, if something should happen to her and we had to pick up the bill for her care.”

      1. Anonymous*

        Well, I do have health insurance that I pay for with my measly wages, but she contributes to it, as well. She wants me to get one of those jobs with benefits so she won’t have to pay her share of it anymore. She hates how she has to contribute money to my health insurance and I had to tell her that it’s necessary for me and her, in case something happens. This way she won’t go bankrupt if I get into a severe accident or become very ill.

  34. Chelle*

    OP, I live in a major city, graduated three years with internships and just now am making $18/hr. I’m also one of the few who has a job related to my “useless” communications degree. Which I love pointing out to my dad, since he spent so long going on about how useless it was.

    The point being, take what you can get and cheer yourself up by figuring out how this job will apply to what you want to do in the future. Sell it to your mom like that. I left a secrue job in a field I hated for a temp position in the field I wanted. Went without health care for a year but it got me to where I am today.

  35. Wayne Schofield*

    I’m not too fond of the title either, as others have said, but the late 40’s father of a recent college grad who worked her tail off during her undergrad years and earned a spot in a great masters program in her chosen field (not to avoid the tough job market, it was/needs to be her plan as BS in public health falls just above Theology majors for worst paying jobs) is not the person to be giving his 21 year old advice.

    By nature, early 20 somethings still believe their parents are moronic, don’t know how they ever functioned without their input and are feeling their oats because they are now a college grad.

    Of course most parents have their kids best interest at heart, but others just want their kids to move on and get on with their lives so the parents can get on with theirs. The latter a bit selfish, but for some, understandable as the financial burden of having a kid at home after graduation could prove devastating.

    As far as compensation, it really depends on where you live and how open you are to doing whatever it takes. $10 and hour is just fine if it provides you a career direction and something positive on your resume, so congratulations on landing that job!!!

    Your mom sounds like she wants to be disappointed for you because you might be disappointed, but isn’t going about it in a positive way. Sit her down and let her know that you are happy to be getting practical experience, happy to be working close to home and building for your future.

    Finally, I’m looking to hire 2 recent college grads who are well spoken, energetic, and as a business owner with a degree in Communications (I read in the string that there was a Comms grad whose dad didn’t think it was a viable degree, but it is!) I’m happy to hire Comms grads or any other person who is open to learning and growing a career in recruiting. It’s not physically demanding, but very emotionally tolling, but soooo rewarding, both personally and professionally. This role comes with base salary, generous commissions, full benefits, etc and I’m located in very southern NH. I’m also happy to reimburse up to $500 in relocation expenses! Please email me letter of interest and/or resume.

  36. Kat M*

    I love my dad, but he’s been in school his entire life (straight to college, Master’s, Ph.D, direct to teaching, now tenured.)

    He can give me advice on classical music and grammar, but definitely not on finding a job. (I’ve never had trouble getting work, but that’s largely because I dropped out of college and racked up experience before the economy tanked. Good interview skills and pure dumb luck.)

  37. Original Poster*

    Hey everyone, I am the Original Poster. I wanted to wait a couple days to respond in order to see what comments were left so I could address any questions or clarify certain things that may not have come across in the original post above.

    First off, I thank most of you for the support and the encouraging words. It made me feel really good to know that many of you saw the point that I was trying to get across. The main reason that I took this job is because I will have a great deal of responsibility in this particular role, and I feel that it is a great starting position that will help open doors for me in the future. They needed someone that is a self-starter and is not afraid of hard work. I feel that if I excel at this role it will show future employers that I could handle anything that is thrown my way. Also, if this charter school is a success, there is a strong possibility that I will get a raise and more benefits next year (they are keeping the employment packages bare-boned in order to be fiscally conservative since this is their first year in operation).

    I showed my mom this post and reiterated all of the reasons that I feel that this job would be a good fit for me, and she is still not buying it. Some of the posters think that my mother is disillusioned about the job market because she is either a stay at home mom or has not seen how bad the job market is firsthand. This is not the case at all. Ironically (and no I am not making this up) my mother is a manager at a clothing retailer. Her company starts their full-time workers out at $8.95/hour (plus commission), and her assistant manager only makes $11.50/hour (that also includes commission). The other week my mother even interviewed someone with a master’s degree that was desperate for work (they were not hired). My mother has been with her company for over twenty years, and her hourly wage is still less than $18/hour (though she does receive a generous commission because her store is a high volume store). But she still feels that I am worth more because none of her employees have a bachelor’s degree and I do.

    One of the posters inquired where I lived since $10/hour seemed low to him (I believe he was from NYC). I am from a part of Ohio that is historically known for being a pretty crappy place if you are looking for a well-paying job. I am omitting the particular area since I do not want to reveal too much about me, but the unemployment rate in my area (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) is over 8%. To compare, the unemployment rate for the state of Ohio is 7.2%. Most managers around here are lucky if they are making over $30,000/year. Relocation is definitely a possibility in the future, but right now my goal is to save up some money so I do not have to worry about leaching off of my parents the rest of my life.

    It is not like I think my mother’s advice is stupid: I love her and we are really close. I know that she is hard on me because she never finished college and wants to see me have a better life than she did. But I am a realist. By religiously checking the job boards and by talking to others in the area, I found out pretty quickly that I am lucky to be making $10/hour around here. So many people think that since recent college graduates are a part of Generation Y that we feel that we are entitled to a great job with amazing benefits without putting in the work and earning our dues. The thing that older adults need to know is that many of my peers (myself included) have never felt that way. I want to pay my dues so when I am living comfortably one day I know that I put in the work that led me to that point. My dream was to go to law school and become a lawyer, but then the law market tanked right around the point in college where it was too late for me to change my major and still graduate on time (thus me taking my minor and making it my second major). Now I have to really soul search and find out what career will make me happy and what I can do to reach that point.

    In the end, I just want my mom to be happy for me because I do not want to be a disappointment to her. She saw how hard it was for my dad to find work after he graduated college during the recession in the early 1990s as a business major, so I do not understand why she thought that I would fare better than him in an even worse economy (my dad is happy that I got this job since he has been in my shoes, so at least I have his support). I am really excited to take a job where I can be out of my comfort zone and contribute to a school that I feel will have a really bright future.

    Thank you so much Alison for answering my question so quickly and offering your amazing advice (I know that you are really busy so I feel honored), and thanks to all of the posters that can relate to where I am coming from. I really appreciate the advice and the kind words :)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thanks for updating us! Would it help to show your mom any of the many articles out there about the dismal job prospects for recent graduates? Or do you think she’s just not convinceable, no matter what evidence you show her? (It sounds like that might be the case.)

      1. Original Poster*

        I have already tried that approach with her. She told me that if I read her one more article from Forbes, US News & World Report, or Huffington Post, she is going to scream. I think that at this point it is a lost cause. I wish I had her support, but in my heart I feel that this is the best step for me to take and I need to have faith in myself.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ugh, okay. That’s frustrating! But if it helps, at least you know that she’s deliberately refusing to acknowledge the facts here, and hopefully that will help you not second-guess yourself when she pushes you in a direction that you know doesn’t make sense.

        2. Liz*

          Is it possible that your mother was very anxious when yor father was out of work, and now sees your situation as a risk to her retirement savings? I know she would spend her last dime on you, of course, but of your family already endured years of insecurity while your father was out of work, she really might not be able to hear anything but the dollar amount and the risk it poses right now.

          Also, the things you said the school told you sound like red flags. It is one thing to pay a market rate. It is a little bit different to ask for sacrifices now in return for unspecified promises later. I wouldn’t turn down te job. Just maybe a heads up that they are not going to be a great employer, and your mother probably has some experience with that too.

          It could go either way, of course. Just some of the things you quoted reminded me of things I have heard from friends who were not treated well at work.

    2. Heather*

      You sound like you’ve got common sense, which as we all know, ain’t so common ;) I know it doesn’t help when it’s not coming from her, but your mom should be hugely proud of you. I hope that when you start your job, she manages to overcome this blind spot and is able to see how well you’ve done for yourself. Good luck!

  38. Bee*

    I was in a similar (worse?) position to the OP a few years ago.

    I also live in Ohio. I graduated from a very well-known college in 2008, right as the job market was approaching its lowest low, and I graduated with a huge amount of debt and a “useless” communications degree. I looked for a job for my entire senior year of college but I had no idea HOW to look for a job, no idea what I really wanted to do, and there were very very few jobs to be had.

    I got lucky and a friend helped me get a job at her place of work. It was an $8/hour retail stocking job at a small non-profit, and I was dead grateful to have it because everyone I graduated with had nothing. I immediately started looking for other jobs, and in two years of looking I only managed to land three interviews, all of which rejected me for one reason or another.

    My mother was upset with me, though, saying that I was “settling” and implying it was because I was too lazy to get out and look for another job. It took her more than a year before she apologized to me, pointing out that when she was my age, just the fact that she had a degree was enough to practically guarantee her a job anywhere she moved – even when she was living in cities like Boston and New York.

    Rumor of my computer and graphic design skills got around at work, and after a year and a half I was asked to put together the company’s annual report. After two years, they hired me upstairs into the HR department as an administrative assistant. I love my job and never expected that an opportunity like this would drop into my lap.

    I guess my point is, in this economy, any opportunity is a good opportunity. If I had refused the low-paying menial-labor job because I felt like my degree entitled me to a higher-paying one, I would never have found the career I now love. So congrats, OP, and I’m sorry you can’t get your mom to see that this is a good thing for you.

  39. Anonymous*

    My mom told me it didn’t matter what I got a degree in, all that mattered is that I had one and then the job offers would come rolling in. There was predictions of large annual salaries and she encouraged me to take out loans to pay for school.

  40. Joanna Reichert*

    I’m moving to Knoxville this weekend for a $10.25/hr job, albeit full time with benefits and in a field I really care about. I currently live in southern Michigan, minutes from the University of Notre Dame.

    Previous to this position, know what I, with 10+ years of real working experience in retail, journalism, and veterinary services, could find? $7.25/hr to start, 8-15 hours a week at a chain portrait studio. What a joke. I made more on unemployment.

    Parents are going to worry, but in general they haven’t a clue what it’s like to find a job in 2012. Screening programs that dismiss your resume because there aren’t enough ‘right’ keywords; unable to walk in and shake hands with a manager like in the good ol’ days; the basic problem of not enough jobs. Too many variables and new issues they never had to deal with. They should simply wish us ‘Good luck!’ and give us a shoulder to cry on.

  41. Mander*

    I’m just sad that your Mom would be so critical. In these times when there are so many people out of work and experienced, well-educated people desperate for any kind of salary at all, getting a job that is reasonably paid for your location and which excites you is an amazing feat. I hope she is able to see that and stop criticizing you soon.

  42. anon-2*

    Parents can be amusing in a job search, or giving you career advice.

    I come from a long line of schoolteachers, who cannot understand that in the computer industry —

    – a) most people working today do not have COLA-shielded pensions, or “health care for life” deals after they’ve retired. You are on your own for retirement.

    – b) a layoff may very well end your career. You can’t go to the next town and put in an application there and get hired.

    – c) you cannot “grieve” a situation that happened at work. You cannot appeal a layoff. You have no “bumping rights” , “tenure”, or “union process”.

    – d) Finally, when you take a day off, the work piles up. You cannot call in and say “I don’t feel good today. Call in a sub.”

  43. Valery*

    Oh parents. I work in a university Career Services office (I swear we’re one of the good ones Alison!) and we’ve definitely noticed a ramp up in parents calls- including one where a father insisted his son was perfect and could we explain why he still didn’t have a job after graduation. Those rose colored glasses make it difficult to trust any parental advice, let alone some of the other factors other commentators have mentioned

  44. Eric*

    My parents did one step better. The accused me of sabotaging my job interviews and wanting to be a leech on them for the rest of my life. Threw my a$$ out on the street and told me that I better learn to live in a cardboard box before I ever ask them for help ever again. Keep in mind, I was working full time at a hotel making $8 per hour and not spending anything except saving up my money for my eventual move when I found a job.

    It still wasn’t good enough. After I found a horrible apartment with a bathroom with no running water, I was forced to spend six months explaining to employers why they should hire me. It never occurred to me or my genius parents that I had gone back and forth from school and home working that it made my resume look like I was bouncing around from jobs every eight months. I only figured it out in one interview when the lady starts interrogating me like a drill sergeant about why I hopped around all over the place in the last three years. Once I explained that I was going to school and staying at home for the summer, oh my god the lady did a complete 180. “oh, oh, OH!!!” “Yeah, yeah, yeah you dumb blonde!”

    I blame my parents 100% for screwing up my life because of this assinine decision. As a result, I have been forced to scrounge for whatever jobs I could find and have never been able to maintain a solid work history with any company. That is the problem today with employers they expect you to be their personal slaves and put with whatever garbage they throw at you. I’ve dealt with managers that scream and swear at their employees, I’ve seen co-workers rob a business blind and not get in trouble for it but the company will damn well fire your a$$ for getting all uppity with a manager, or getting of good employees just for not kissing enough a$$ at work.

    When I try to explain these facts to my parents, they are completely oblivious. My dad works as a union electrician and has no worries about job security. Hell, he would tell me stories about guys that would get away with murder and not get fired at his job. He sits there and lectures me about how to hold down a job today. My mom who hasn’t had to work at all in her life except teaching at a community college part time and thanks to my dad’s generous subsidizing her desire to teach. She tells me all about how easy it is to find a job and how she could get hired at McDonalds easily. When I took her up on the offer, she declined to do that. I did get some poetic justice when she had to look for work again after my family moved to a new town. It took her over eight months to find work and I guess MacDonalds wasn’t interested in hiring forty year olds with liberal arts degrees for cashiers.

    My best advice is if your parents are not helping you or providing you with support, “F*** em!” Your obligation to them ended when they decided to blame you for a bad economy and shame you for not being perfect. Hopefully if God has a good sense of humor, he will give me a chance to pick my parents nursing home in the future. Until then, try to keep your head up and not let the drudgery put you down. Most important, surround yourself with people that will love you and support you through thick and thin. These people will give you the motivation and anger to fight for a better life than any principle or ideology will ever do!

  45. Wayne Schofield*

    Hi Eric,
    Your parents may have made the decision to kick you out, but YOU make the decision for your future. Stop blaming others and move on with your life.

    Usually people with bad attitudes can’t hold down a job for too long, so prove everyone wrong.

    As far as feeling negative to the person who revealed that your job hopping was the reason your resume might not have been looked at favorably…negative response to her. I would have been appreciative is she shed some light on a concern in my resume.

    My parental side says you need to see someone professional to get over your anger towards your parents.

    Good luck

    1. Eric*

      No, I’ve made my peace with my parents a long time ago, but I don’t make any excuses for their horrible behavior. It isn’t okay to throw your child, who is working hard and doing the best they can in a bad situation, out on the street and expect them to survive. In fact, it is going to make them suffer even more and probably jeopardize their chances of ever establishing a successful career or life.

      Also, I have a right to call out my parents’ hypocrisy as well because I found out from other family members what my parents situation was at my age. My dad got to live at home with his parents rent free until he was 27 years old. He didn’t have any parents screaming at him or humiliating him constantly about his living at home or not having a stable job. Then, he stands there and lectures me year after year about how I don’t have any goals in life or how I am not applying myself more. Interesting, how he didn’t have this getup and go attitude when he was living off of someone else’s dime! He never mentions either that my grandpa helped him get the union job that he has held for 20 years either.

      Then, my mom takes the cake for hypocrisy. She goes to college which is completely paid for by her parents and then marries my first dad. When they divorce after having my sister and me, she moves back home with her parents and lives with them until she can complete her degree and support her two kids. Her parents didn’t tell her, “You got yourself into this mess; you get yourself out of it.” Then, she has the audacity to blame me for not being able to find a decent paying job or not being able to support myself. Why didn’t she learn to live on her own and take responsiblity for her actions?

      I talk about these situations because not all parents love and care about their children. Some of them are cruel and spiteful people that can’t wait just to get rid of their children or blame them for not being perfect. I’ve talked with tons of people traumatized or made to believe that they are failures for not living up to their parents impossible expectations or catering to their insanity. I try to let them know that they are not alone and that it is not their fault. You have to play the crappy hand life deals you, but it doesn’t mean you have to like it.

      No, I wasn’t mad at the lady just stunned by the colossal stupidity. It was clearly referenced in my cover letter that I had recently graduated from college which is identified in my resume and I was currently living at home with my parents in my hometown which was also identified in my CL. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to just look at my jobs for the 4 years I was in school were in the same two locations. Either these hiring managers can’t read or they aren’t taking the time to adequately review your resume or cover letter. That means that no matter how well you write or what you do; unless you have a perfect resume or lie on it, then there is no way you will ever get an interview. So through no fault of your own, your chances of finding a decent job have been reduced through no fault of your own. Yet, the unemployed are solely held responsible for their inability to find work……Please!

      1. Job seeker*

        Sorry you have had such a hard time with your parents. My son is a chemical engineer and recent college graduate and it took him some time to find a job. He stayed with us during that time and then moved to his new apartment. Right now, he is back with us because of roommate situations until he finds what he is looking for. He is very independent, a hard-worker and has recently been given a promotion and a new title at work. He is a lot like my husband, his dad both are very smart and career minded. Please give your parents a break. I think maybe they are just concerned for you because every parent wants more for their children. If I could choose between something wonderful for me or for them, I would choose them every time.

        1. Eric*

          Well, your son is very fortunate and you are indeed a very kind person. You are everything that a parent should be and then some. I’m glad to see that some people won’t abandon their children once they reach an artificial age limit. I’ve always believed that if a family member is needing help, you do everything can for them and to heck with what the rest of the world thinks.

          I wish that I could keep forgiving my parents, but I have been excusing and forgiving their cruel and vindictive behavior for years. I’ve just reached the point where I can’t put up with their loathing and hatred of me. In fact case in point when I moved in with a friend to help save rent, my mom went completely ballistic and told me that I was nothing but a sponge and mooch for doing that. When I tried to explain that money was tight and it would help me save in order to pay my bills, she tells me the only reason I haven’t succeeded is because I haven’t suffered enough. That I need to work four jobs and live in a horrible apartment on my own then I’ll be motivated enough to do better.

          Funny that you should mention parents caring about me. When I told my mom that one of my roommates threatened to kill me in a non-joking matter and how I was getting worried about the situation, my mom just laughed about it and told me that I deserved. Most important, if I didn’t like it, then I better find a new place or live in a cardboard box, because they weren’t doing anything to help me.

          1. Job seeker*

            My goodness I have never heard of a mother that would say this to her son. I am sorry, I don’t know how to respond to this.

            1. Eric*

              Nothing you can say and pray to god you will never understand why either. Just never give up on your kids and always be there for them if they need it. Plus, it isn’t a bad insurance policy either. The kids are the ones that will choose whether you come live with them or go to the nursing home.

  46. Cruciatus*

    In some ways I suppose I’m fortunate that my parents actually seem content with me needing to live with them at the age of 31, but they don’t understand why a person with a Master’s degree in sociology can’t find a better job so that I could live on my own. I’ve been working at a local medical school library as an assistant nights/weekends for 18 months for $8.40 an hour (started at $8.00. Oooh!) In fact, I’m writing this from there now! Haven’t had a regular Saturday night in 18 months… Anyway, I apply to all the jobs that I seem to have any interest in and the ability to show any experience in (seems to be more clerical related, though I have tried jobs where my sociology background would be useful–but I have heard nothing). Got excited about actually having an interview last month…only to be told afterward that “the position has been put on hold.”

    My mom believes me to be a good employee: smart, flexible, can speaka the English good ‘n’ stuff, but assumes I’m doing something “wrong” with resumes/cover letters. She went to college/graduate school in the ’60s and basically just had to roll out of bed to find a job–a job at a university she stayed with for 37 years. It’s actually where I’d really like to work–but so much for this “networking” business–my mom’s connections haven’t helped a bit. She tries to be helpful by telling me that employers of yesteryear used to train almost anyone with a degree. While that would be useful information 40 years ago, it sure isn’t doing anything for me now! She never really had to write a resume or cover letter and so she has no idea what it’s like now. But at least so far my parents haven’t maligned me for a crappy work situation. I think it’s maybe slowly dawning on them that the area we live in is mostly industrial and that the good jobs are being fought over by people with 3X the experience needed so the employers can hire any damn person they want to! But I just have to keep telling myself that right now I’m “paying dues” and it can only get better from here…(right? RIGHT!?)

    And of course my sister is a doctor who was a major in the Air Force and is currently working for a salary it would currently take me about 13 years to make. Sigh…

    1. Eric*

      But keep in mind, not everyone is suited to be a doctor, lawyer, or computer programmer. In fact, if you had gotten the degree, you would horribly or mediocre in these positions and not be able to keep a job in this field. Then, you are even worse off than now, because employers are going to ask WTF is wrong with you. You’ve got this degree in this field and you can’t hold a job in this area. At least, you have the excuse of a horrible economy for your not working a job in your field.

      Best advice is to stick with it and keep racking up the time. For some reason now, it is staying at a crappy, minimum wage job for two or three years that will impress an employer more than anything else. That way, they know you will put up with any crap just to hold onto a job. In the end, our ability to become a robot is more valued than our creativity and skills. Ugh, what a wonderful time we live in…..

  47. Lo*

    Well meaning action from parent, but in my experience only you can assess whether or not you’re getting screwed or should take a job. If you were taking the whole patronising “don’t worry about the money” shit some people give me I would be writing this virtually word for word. I came out of a great job market and got the whole “double majored therefore you should walk into a job” nonsense – even when things were good, employers are very specific about what they want and these days the better the degree the narrower the range of job, hence it takes longer anyway. Main thing is to keep your eyes and ears open, your plans sound good but you have develop yourself into someone that understands the market for your skillset, this is just generic advice but sometimes “keeping your options open” isn’t necessarily that good and simply honking along working you can lose sight of where your career is going. A co-worker who just got let go just showed me her CV which is an example of what can happen, lots of little jobs at major insurance firms – might sound good to the uninformed, but having been on the market for nearly 10 years I can see she is screwed. From talking to her I can see that she doesn’t have a clue about careers – that, not low pay, is the way to get screwed.

    Psychologically speaking your mum’s beahviour is safety seeking behaviour – e.g. looking for the safe choice of $18/hr even if it does not exist. For her it causes anxiety, or at best keeps it at bay, and isn’t your problem – try and move in with a friend so you don’t have to be around this stupid judgementalism. Next thing she’ll giving you the whole finger rubbing symbol for $$$ telling you that’s the way to get a gf – from personal experience it’s a load of shit. I worked in banking for years and got laid more times between jobs than in them and indeed can point to 2 friends that found their wives while either in stop-gap jobs or unemployed.

    1. Eric*

      Yeah, I noticed other people who are blissfully ignorant how damaging having short term jobs on a resume can be. Employers and HR has no idea nor do they care about your situation. Rather than take a risk if you are a lazy bum or not, they just chuck your resume in the trash and go with the candidates that have a steady work history. I’ve had to advise several people to combine jobs or put down only one job for a certain duration, because that is surprisingly the one thing employers do pay attention to. I did a test myself when I applied with one resume showing multiple short term jobs and another with a job every two or three years. Sure enough, the steady work history won out about 95% of the time.

      My advice is to keep a part time job on the side, so if something does happen to your full time, you can always fall back on the part time to make your resume look more stable. The employers don’t know if you are working part time or the nature of the work from what you tell them. All they can ask a business is your job title, date of employment, and rehirable or not.

      1. Lo*

        Eric, a good point.
        People seem to veer towards thinking of careers in “safety seeking” terms, where getting any old job and “working your way up” is the cure-all for any market. That doesn’t face the reality of market difficulty or take the risk of one resume gap, where many employers expect new graduates these days to stay at home or travel and look at options in order to preempt future issues with careers (and indeed with tough degrees like math or physics it can be preferred).
        Basically if you do a job any old dickhead could do, how does it prove you can do another very few people can? Aside from getting up at 7am or whatever, there are usually few useful skills for your major career.
        What parents don’t understand is how a lot of careers are now about focus – e.g. Quant analysis is an area where, even during the good times, many employers would rule you out if you had entered another field, even if you had the right educational background. Quant analysis is fairly high end, but I think all degree related industries will head that way, where it’s taking the “experience” angle to another level where picking short term options is considered as lacking focus and will take people’s careers in the wrong direction.
        This also is an influence on time in job, where one has more control over one’s career – most parents seem to adopt the view that kids are “choosing” to be prima donnas about jobs. The only choice is from employers, where they are picky about who they want and where usually what happens to someone that doesn’t hold out for the right job is they end up in a job they are not suited to and fired within a few years, leaving a decimated resume – a friend of mine is about to be fired from her second consecutive job, only 3 years after leaving college, as the first one she took was when she was desperate and a Russian property firm made an offer. Now in her field (environmental/conservation work) nobody will touch her as she’s a property manager, which is a job that isn’t her and leads on to nothing else other than more property management jobs. So much for “foot in the door”.

        1. Rico*

          Agreed, I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten called into an interview and the first question I get about my resume is how my previous jobs have nothing to do with the position I am applying for. Just one more reason that college degrees are useless, because if you can’t find something in that field and are forced to work in another, you have no chance of breaking in unless by sheer luck.

        2. Eric*

          Choosey is damn right! One bad job and getting canned after two or three months will make your resume untouchable. I learned that lesson the hard way a few years back when I first graduated from college. It took me several years to figure out that employers were avoiding my resume because I didn’t have a stable work history. Not by choice, but because there was nothing out there and I had to take whatever job was available because I had no other option. Parents had abandoned me and told me that I better learn to live in a card board box before I come back to them asking for help.

          Unfortunately, my parents like in fantasy land and think that you just walk into a business and get hired on the spot, but they refuse to admit that any personal connections or “help” in getting their jobs. Mom loves to talk about taking any job out there, but she didn’t mind being unemployed for over eight months while finding the right job.

  48. Lo*

    Thought I might add as I have now read a few comments. My 2 cents is that parents have no clue about the market as a previous poster – a sector I’m trying to get into has a lot of junior jobs because it’s new, but many sectors that are allegedly “doing brilliantly” aren’t.

    When I started in 2004 it took me some time to get a job as I had to figure out where I fitted in, then once I found that area I had a job within 2 months. That was a total of 1 year, and you ask my parents and they TELL ME it was because of lack of experience. Even when I confirm my supervisor agreed with me it wasn’t, they still bulshitted their way out of it. In the first 5 years I worked I noticed a steady flow of inexperienced ppl starting off with me, some of whom beat experienced ppl to the door. Foot in the door worked, now in the last 5 years most people I’ve worked with are under too much pressure financially to train and prefer specialised contractors – at junior level I have never EVER seen someone get a contracting role without at least 3 years experience DOING PRECISELY THE SAME THING. When you see that then inexperience is an ACTUAL barrier. I explained this in detail to my Dad as he still sees fit to offer patronising advice and his response was “but isn’t that the way it always was, hard to find a job without experience?”.

    Honestly, to the OP, when you find your ideal job don’t expect your mom to wake up – I’ve worked in lots of jobs and my Dad still gives advice based on what he did leaving school (NOT COLLEGE) IN 1953!!!!!????!!!!!!

  49. Lo*

    Just one final comment, as i’ve seen this touched on. In terms of “knowing people” I’ve found that a lot of it is jealousy. The mantra where I am in London seems to be “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”. Funny thing is any professional job I’ve gotten has always been through a proper interview process and, contrary to perception, through an agency, while stuff in bars etc I’ve gotten through friends. Thing is I have a good degree and was lucky to be advised correctly, that’s the real way networking works – exchange of information, and without my expertise in my field and understanding of jobs in that field I would not have been employable. It’s a mix of these things and luck still plays a part.

    The current market is crap, but don’t despair and think it’s all about networking – in many professions jobs are so specific that finding the right people is hard.

    It’s also demoralizing when patents stick their heads up their butt-holes and lecture you about your profession. Even once you’re there the lecturing won’t stop – there’s always a lot of panicky innane generalistic crap e.g. “don’t be a job hopper”. One classic example sticks out with my Dad where I explained I was working in the wrong asset class in finance to which he replies “I know, but it’s good experience”. So basically what he was saying was “I know it’s bad experience, but it’s good experience”.
    This is where I wonder if it’s such a good thing to use debating in schools – my experience with him is that even when I’m agreeing with what he says he twists it around to make it sound like I’m not. Him, and the overwhelming majority of parents I know seem to be so addicted to talking in a particular way to their kids that the novel idea of actually assessing what they say and having the grace to acknowledge they are not experts in anything other than their own field is beyond them. It seems to be who shouts the loudest or is most overbearing that wins the argument. There are few exceptions and even then some people have retarded views e.g. the typical lay off period for some people in banking can be up to 2 years – a browse of my LinkedIn contacts readily verifies this, yet people’s heads seem to explode at such an alien concept and come out with weird comments. Probably too horrifying a reality.

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