my mom is pressuring me to apply for jobs I don’t want

A reader writes:

I am a mid-20s-something with a master’s degree in international affairs interning at a nonprofit that focuses on serving ethnic minorities of the region I studied in college and graduate school.

My internship ends in June (six-month internship), so I started looking and applying for jobs in March. However, my mom is stressing me out about getting a full-time job before then. Since I don’t have a lot of experience and want to stay in international affairs, I don’t have a lot of jobs to choose from. I look for jobs four or five days out of the week in Washington D.C. and other major international affairs centers (NY, SF, etc).

It took me six months to find my current internship when I wasn’t so diligent about looking for jobs. My mother says that she doesn’t want my job search to take six months again and constantly asks for updates. (I only tell her about jobs I’m applying to so she can look over my cover letters.) I think six months is reasonable considering the job market, but she seems to think it’s not. She has suggested applying to fast food places and retail just to have a job.

I live with her, so I understand how she witnesses my failure to launch every day, but it has come to the point where I feel pressured to apply to jobs I’m not interested in and are outside of my field just to appease her. The place where I’m interning is too fast paced for me and they’re not hiring, but I’m doing fairly well and received a raise this month. How do I approach my job search with less stress and anxiety, and what are some realistic expectations for someone in my position?

Six months isn’t an unreasonable assumption.

Given that, you were cutting it pretty close by starting in March if you’re going to need a job three to four months after that; ideally you would have started a couple of months earlier. But it’s hard to plan this stuff with certainty.

The bigger issue here, I think, is if your mom is supporting you financially. If she is, it’s not unreasonable for her to put some limits on that, including saying, “Hey, I need you to get paying work, even if it’s not in your field.” In that situation, she has the right to say that she’s willing to help you out only to the extent that you have no other options, but that she doesn’t want you jettisoning employment possibilities just because they’re not the work you want to be doing.

In that case, if you accept her financial support, you have to accept the conditions that come along with it.

But if you’re paying rent and contributing your share of household expenses — and if you you have a plan that will allow you to continue that when your internship ends — then what you have is a mom problem, not a job search problem. In that case, it’s reasonable to try to set some boundaries with her. For example, in that case you could say, “I hear what you’re saying and I appreciate the concern. I think I’ll have a job lined up by the time my internship ends, but if I don’t, I’ll be able to continue paying for my expenses here by doing XYZ. Given that, I’m asking that you let me manage this process myself, even if you think I’m making mistakes along the way.”

If that doesn’t work and she keeps up the pressure, you may be better moving out of her house or at least significantly limiting the information you’re giving her about your search.

If nothing else, though, stop having her look over your cover letters — it’s giving her too much information about your search and too much opportunity to pester you.

{ 538 comments… read them below }

  1. Cambridge Comma*

    OP, you have a job now, right? So if you found a fast food/retail job, you wouldn’t be able to take it if they wanted you to start immediately.
    If she is supporting you financially and therefore gets a say, would she be happy if you committed to applying for part-time fast food/retail work if you don’t have the job you’re looking for two weeks before your internship ends?

    1. Turanga Leela*

      I should have refreshed—I suggested something similar below. I think committing to a timeline could be really helpful.

    2. NotTheSecretary*

      That sounds like a great compromise!

      It can be tempting to only want to take work in your field but you have to consider how you will make ends meet until that comes up. A retail job is quick to start up after your internship ends and quick to leave once you find something you would like to do more. You shouldn’t count out work like that just because it isn’t what you want to do forever.

      1. WerkingIt*

        And she can continue to look for what she wants in the meantime. Then when she does find it, it’s not like she’s burning any bridges in her field by leaving the retail job.

    3. Wild Feminist*

      No reason she can’t work her internship during the week and a fast food/retail job in the evenings and weekends. Unless she has kids or a serious volunteering commitment, she’s got a lot of free time she can fill up making money.

      1. Jessen*

        Not everyone is up for the 60 hour work week, especially not if she’s also expected to contribute to the house and do a serious job search.

        1. Ubergaladababa*

          Also, there’s nothing to say the internship isn’t *already* a 60 hour commitment.

          1. Anna*

            Or just any desire to have some time to not be focused solely on going to and from work, working, or looking for work.

        2. Elsajeni*

          And even if that schedule would be doable on the OP’s end, it won’t necessarily be easy to get a fast food or retail employer to agree to it — I’ve had retail managers who were great about working around school schedules or second jobs, but it’s very much not the norm for retail workers to have that kind of control over their hours.

          1. Zombii*

            This. When fast food, retail and similar say “flexible schedule,” they mean their employees need to be flexible. Many of them have a line in the employee handbook that says their employees can’t have other jobs that will conflict with that job’s schedule (which is not a fixed schedule or a set amount of hours and can change at any time).

      2. MommyMD*

        Yes, this. Sounds like mom is contributing to her support in a substantial way. OP needs to make sure she has no income gap even if it means working longer hours. By mid to late 20s reliance on parents should be quickly dwindling.

        1. Jessen*

          Eh, longer hours depend on the person. I know when I was doing a very long day, I effectively had time for *nothing else*. Literally, it was all I could do to bathe, change, whip up a pot of box mac and cheese (and sometimes that didn’t happen), and crawl into bed. You could forget about anything like looking for a better job for more than a token effort, and the apartment was a disaster because I simply didn’t have the energy to keep up with it. It was not a good time, and I wasn’t really in a position to better myself without outside help.

          Granted, I had health problems on top of everything else, but I’d still point out that longer hours can easily lead to the trap where you’re not doing much else except working.

          1. Anonymoose*

            This totes sounds like my life now, and I’m only working 40 hours. HA. Health problems do make a big impact. I congratulate you on being able to do 60!!!

            1. D.A.R.N.*

              Agreed! For people who have health issues, even 40 is difficult. My own apartment would be terrible if I didn’t have my mother paying for people to come and clean it. I’m lucky in that respect.

            2. Jessen*

              Honestly I was only working 40. The problem was the commute was about 2h each way, including 2.5 miles of walking, because I didn’t make enough at $9/hr to own a car and our public transit system wasn’t great. So, 8h a day, plus a 1h unpaid lunch, plus 2h commute each way, meant I was out of the apartment for 13h a day, most of it on my feet. Plus my meds made me extra tired (I actually just came off of that particular med and it’s amazing how much more energy I have). It was not a pleasant time, and I’m darn lucky that my parents would let me move back in with them and support me while I looked for a better job.

              1. Jessen*

                Actually, following up on that: I don’t think people realize how exhausting low-end jobs can be. It’s not hard in the sense that you don’t need a lot of extra special skills all day. But retail is notorious for not giving you a minute to rest other than your allotted breaks. You’re on your feet all day, and you’re expected to be stocking shelves or straightening merchandise when you’re not with a customer. I understand fast food is the same way – if there’s no work, well, you’re expected to find some!

                1. Rabbit*

                  Holy Writ in every single retail Job I ever had: “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean” and “When you’re here, your time is ours. Socialize on your own time” (aka, work harder and don’t chat).

                  Also, you were lucky to have an hour for lunch. I never had anything other than a half hour unpaid break and 2 paid ten minute breaks – which more or less amounted to bathroom breaks.

        2. The OG Anonsie*

          Eh. This is such a cultural thing, to say “your family helping you past xx age or yy situation is inherently undesirable and you should work to avoid it.” It’s not true of all situations, areas, culture groups, or individual families. It’s extremely normal (and sometimes actively desirable) for many families for their kids to stay living at home, often without paying expenses, until they’re hitting 30 or married or get some upper level career movement or whatever. I don’t like the declaration that this is an inherently undesirable arrangement and must be accounted for with money and life planning– you don’t know that’s true.

          Now, if the LW’s mom is not liking this arrangement and that’s why she’s pushing the LW, that’s one thing. But if she’s happy with LW living at home it’s entirely possible (and even likely) that she would be doing this regardless of where the LW lives. Then the fact that she’s being pushy and and the fact that the LW lives with her are separate things, where the living situation may or may not need to be part of the calculations with the job search at all.

          1. Anonymoose*

            Concur. Especially with how the US market changed in 2008, culturally it is way more normal for late 20’s and even early 30’s of various cultures to either live at home or make occasional long term pit stops while they look for something more permanent.

          2. D.A.R.N.*

            I came to say this and found you said it already! It’s also not always possible because of health (mental or physical) or if the person has disabilities– or even if they care for an older person with either of those.

            1. Julia*

              So true! Plus, it’s kind of a waste of resources for everyone to live separately. I’m not saying people who like to live alone are doing something wrong, but there seems to be a certain amount of shitting on people who live at home (or with roommates) over an arbitrary age line that really bothers me. Humans are social creatures, and the US way of kicking kids out at basically 18 seems harsh to me.

          3. kmb213*

            I just wanted to add to the chorus here! I completely agree. I lived with roommates in my early 20s, along throughout my mid-to-late 20s/very early 30s, and moved back in with my parents for a few years at 31. They refused to take any money from me, but I contributed to the household in a lot of other ways. And, though I’ve now bought a house and moved back out, I will always treasure those years I spent living with my parents as an adult. Getting to spend that extra time with them was a good thing, not a bad one.

            1. GH in SOCal*

              !1 to this! I stayed in my grandmother’s guest room for about a year in my late 20’s. I have a lot of great memories from that year and it had a positive effect on our relationship for the rest of her life.

              I was temping during that time so I could pay for my own expenses other than rent, and moved out when I got a job in my field. Without her help, I might not have been able to get into that (highly competitive) field.

              (I have a really find memory of one time when I was offered a long-term gig at a place I was temping, and I was afraid she would push me to take it or judge me for not wanting it. Instead, she was mildly offended that I thought she was so conventional, and urged me to hold out for my dream.)

        3. Pommette*

          Taking on a second job could affect the OP’s performance at her internship. That’s a big risk for someone working in a small field with relatively few entry level job opportunities.

      3. Starbuck*

        “No reason” ahh, I wish this wasn’t such a common attitude. As you pointed out in your own comment, there are lots of valid reasons people can’t work multiple jobs. It’s not reasonable to expect this and I wish as a society we would do more to move away from this perspective that people are obligated to fill every available hour of their time with paid labor.

        1. YawningDodo*


          By the above logic, there’s “no reason” I shouldn’t be working a second job because hey, even though I’m employed full time and live comfortably on my salary, I could be making more money!

          Except then there are things like, you know…mental health. Having hobbies. Having a social life. Having a life outside of work, period. I get that my viewpoint is privileged by having a job that pays well enough that I don’t need to do extra work in order to meet my needs, but this idea that there’s “no reason” not to slave away at a second job is a big part of the unhealthy attitude American culture has toward matters of work/life balance.

          1. Zombii*

            >>.. this idea that there’s “no reason” not to slave away at a second job is a big part of the unhealthy attitude American culture has toward matters of work/life balance.

            More problematic than that, this attitude tends to apply more often to “poor people,” than to (let’s say for example) MD’s. No one is suggesting a doctor get another job to fill their spare time, but someone on an internship is expected to work ALL THE HOURS to avoid being seen as lazy and/or entitled.

            Only professionals should expect to have work/life balance. The rest of us can have a life when we’ve worked enough to deserve it. :(

            1. sstabeler*

              or worse- and I think this is similar to the point you were making- the attitude comes off as “you get a work/life balance if your employer says you can have one” which can be REALLY annoying.

      4. Anxa*

        Well, it could be an option for her, but there are reasons this doesn’t always work. There might be transportation constraints that limit the ability to go from job to job. Also, you have FIND that retail/fast food job. And if she does find it, they might not be willing to work around her schedule. Just because she has free time to work, doesn’t mean another employer will be willing to work around her schedule.

    4. Aidy*

      As a fellow aspirational foreign policy wonk, I can confirm you need to apply to places outside the very narrow international relations field. I completed my undergrad at an Ivy League school, worked for a well-known IGO after graduation, and am about to graduate with an MA from a top-ranked IR program in DC. And I know many, many people with similar profiles who can’t find work in our field. I know people with significant experience and multiple languages and degrees who can’t find something. It is rough out there. I’m headed to a consulting firm after graduation. That way, I can continue applying to dream jobs while being employed and supporting myself. Your mom is right. You absolutely cannot wait for the perfect job in such a competitive field, particularly if you’re already living at home.

  2. Anonygoose*

    If she’s supporting you financially in any way, then she is well within her rights to ask you to start making your own money. Taking a job in retail or fast food isn’t a crazy thing to do while you continue to search for a job in your field, and is what a lot of us recent grads have had to do!

    But if you are secure financially, and will be once your internship ends, then just roll your eyes and chalk this up to a Mom Thing. :)

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      It also is fairly common around here to note that a) indeed, sometimes you have to get A job instead of THE job, and then work your way toward THE job; and B) entry level people frequently need to adjust their expectations about the types of jobs available to them.

      If OP has saved and will be fine financially, Mom can have a seat. But if OP expects Mom to foot all her bills until the perfect job materializes, however long that takes, Mom has a point. Fast food might not be the only answer, but it’s not unreasonable to expect OP to broaden her search, and maybe pick up something to tide her over until she gets an offer she likes.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        And, speaking as someone who’s in a field close to but not exactly what his postgrad education focused on, I can say that it’s a) entirely possible that OP’s career might lead away from “international affairs” as strictly defined, and b) that if their career does wander from that path, it’s not a failure or a tragedy or a betrayal of one’s goals. There’s lots of companies, NGOs, nonprofits, and government and quasigovernmental agencies which could use that kind of expertise, even if “international affairs” isn’t really what they do per se. And that’s not a defeat, or a swerve away from THE path, or taking a job out of your field to “appease” your mom.

        Not only do entry level people often have adjust their expectations about what’s available to them, I feel like they often have to do some work to reframe their expectations of what their field is and how broadly they should be searching. I never once thought I’d end up doing what I do on a daily basis, but I’m pleased to be doing it, the pay is good, and I’m still using my expertise.

        1. Anon Because I'm Sharing Detail*

          Good point.

          My graduate work was also in a similar vein to this LW’s. I studied democratic development; my research was on public beliefs about democracy in post-Balkan-war Bosnia & Herzegovina. But rather than focusing on Bosnia, I got interested in the connection between civic engagement and democracy more generally. My career initially focused building new models for civic engagement, then shifted to focusing on how to develop civic leadership, and now is mostly about spiritual/holistic support of community-serving leaders. There’s a clear-to-me line through all of it, but it isn’t one that I would have drawn for myself (or even imagined) when I was deep into datasets of Bosnian public opinion surveys.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Thanks for sharing, that’s fascinating. And totally on point, because there’s a line through my own work (building ecosystem resilience to climate change) that I wouldn’t have drawn when I was hip-deep in point-intersect plant cover data in grad school.

            So, OP, what is it about international development that excites and interests you, above and beyond the specific subject matter of your thesis and classwork? Where’s your line? You’ll be happier following that than the strictures of field and sector.

          2. Anonymoose*

            This sounds really interesting. I’m glad you have the ability to continue growing as your career shifted. :)

          3. the gold digger*

            That sounds fascinating! I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile and it was so interesting to me to see the attitudes toward government. There was a detachment there – that the government was other and that citizens had no power. (Which, to be honest, they didn’t. Or not much, anyhow.)

            I would comment about my Chilean co-workers littering and they would shrug and say it was someone else’s job to clean it up. I would point out that their taxes paid for the public areas to be cleaned so really, wasn’t it everyone’s job to keep it clean? They didn’t buy it. I guess if I were just emerging from a dictatorship (this was in 1993), I wouldn’t feel a lot of connection to a “government is us!” feeling, either.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Absolutely agreed. I’ve had my dream job, several times, and still ended up in related fields. And to be honest, it’s been amazing and fascinating and I’ve loved most of my jobs. When I was younger, I thought I had failed unless I landed with an international development organization, and then over time I realized that wasn’t even the role I wanted to play or the kind of organization I wanted to work for. When you’re coming out of school, everything can look really skewed. But as you gain more experience, you realize that jobs don’t fit into neat boxes, and sometimes the things you thought you’d like are not the things you actually want.

      2. Traceytootoo*

        I have been through something similar with one of my sons. He was waiting for THE job and not doing much to get THE job after finishing school. We gave him a deadline, extended it one month, and then he had to move. He was working at a grocery store and didn’t make much money and for many months leading up to the deadline we talked about saving for a deposit, rent, utilities, etc. When the time came, it was sink or swim and we just had to let him find out on his own. If things are too comfortable, incentive is low. I am proud to say that he quickly found a very well paying apprenticeship in his chosen field and will graduate soon. He is living on his own and doing well. Poverty is a strong motivator.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Yep, some of those lessons you just have to learn the hard way. My oldest is 19 and graduated from high school last year. She took one college class, but then decided to focus on her job because she’s not sure what she wants to do, which is fine. College isn’t always the answer, and it took me a few years after high school to figure out what I wanted to do and then I went back to school and got my degree. She works full time at Safeway, and has gotten promoted a couple times, and is in line to get promoted again.

          She makes good money — $20 per hour, which is a hell of a lot more than I made at her age. She’s still living at home, which we’re fine with, since she’s working and earning money and not just sitting around doing nothing. But she saves nothing, and spends everything she earns. My husband and I have harped on her to save 10% of each paycheck so she’ll have money saved up when she has unexpected expenses, but it just goes in one ear and out the other. I’ve told her a few times to get herself a secured credit card — even with something as small as a$200 limit, and then use it to buy gas and pay it off each month, and again, in one ear and out the other.

          She did get a lesson in how important credit is though, and how you can’t do anything without it. We recently took her off our phone plan, so I took her down to the Verizon store to get her set up with her own account. Because she has no credit, they wanted a $400 deposit that they would keep for a year, and if she paid consistently, they’d return it and put her on a regular plan. She of course didn’t have that, and opted for a pre-paid plan, which is working out fine.

          She’ll figure it out when she’s ready to move out and get her own place. With the money she makes, she could easily afford to get an apartment with one or 2 roommates, but she’ll find out fast that no one will be interested in renting to her if she doesn’t have the deposit saved up, and doesn’t have any credit to speak of. It drives my husband nuts, but I remind him that I was horribly irresponsible with money at her age, and he probably was too.

          1. bunniferous*

            Is she paying you rent? If not she needs to be. I speak from experience as a mother to adults. The transition from spending what you want to being responsible is a hard one, and if she is under your roof she needs to be contributing.

            1. TL*

              I second this idea, and if you can’t stomach the idea of charging her rent, then tell her you’re charging rent but sock it away in a savings account, to be given to her at a later date for something (car, house, wedding, etc).

            2. Lauren*

              One strategy I’ve heard is requiring adult children to pay rent, but then secretly setting that aside for them as forced savings to give them a cushion/security deposit money/etc. when they finally move out.

                1. I used to be Murphy*

                  This is how I could afford to go to grad school. I took two years off in between undergrad and grad school and lived at home. I had to pay room and board. When I got accepted to my Masters, my mum cut me a cheque. It was so nice and unexpected and I will forever be grateful that I had her support in that way (both teaching me independence and responsibility, but still having my back when I needed it).

              1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

                This was what my folks did — I was allowed to live rent free while I finished my MA thesis since I couldn’t work and it was one semester, but after that I paid rent. When I moved out, they turned the rent I’d paid them back over for the security deposit and first months’ rent I had to pay along with other move-in fees.

              2. LizM*

                My parents did this with my sister. She was able to use the money to cover first/last months rent and a security deposit when she did get her own place.

            3. Ann Furthermore*

              No, we’re not charging her rent, although I would not be averse to this idea. She is actually my stepdaughter, and moved in with us when she was 14 after some pretty bad drama with her mom. My husband and I always talk things through, but ultimately, I feel it’s his call when it comes to decisions like this regarding her.

              If she’s still living with us after she turns 20, he may agree to start charging her rent. I think he wants to ease her in to supporting herself instead of dumping it all on her at once. So we are gradually sawing through the cord instead of cutting it all at once, lol. We gave her my old car when we bought a new one last year (and it’s a 2002 Envoy, so nothing glamorous by any means), but she is responsible for all the expenses — maintenance, insurance, etc. She got a rude shock when it was time to replace the tires. The Check Engine light was on a few weeks ago, so she had to get that fixed before she could take it for an emissions test. Then we had her start paying for her own phone. So she is paying her way for some stuff, but not everything.

              1. AnonAcademic*

                I’m going to be frank – buffering her from the financial realities of what it costs to support herself is not likely to achieve what you want (her changing her financial habits when her tendency is to be a spender). It took me several instance of not being able to afford food, bus fare, etc. in college before I really learned how to budget. It also made me a lot more resourceful (e.g. I volunteered in a soup kitchen and they would feed us – it was often the best meal I ate all week). I would not have learned these lessons if my parents had bailed me out. I did ask for a bailout once and it was honestly kind of humiliating and so it never happened again after that. I started saving up my own bailout money and thankfully haven’t had to ask my parents for money since then.

                My brother, who has always spent money like it’s burning a hole in his pocket, was only interested in getting his own car and apartment once he hit the age where that was the norm for his peers (around 25 or so). If my parents had bought him a car or paid his rent, what incentive would he have had? There is part a maturity issue and part a motivation issue. If the situation doesn’t motivate the person to change they aren’t likely to – why would they? Wouldn’t we all like someone else to comfortably support us forever while our earnings are just play money?

            4. The OG Anonsie*

              I don’t think that’s a mandatory way to get a young person moving on learning how to deal with money. I like the route they’re taking– gradually making more and more of her actual expenses her responsibility, so it’s not an arbitrary amount going to the nebulous idea of what her housing in the family home is worth.

              Doubly useful that she’s having to find out and then find out how to comply with standards that come from outside the family and are nonnegotiable.

              1. Zombii*

                Paying rent as a financial lesson works best when the person/people paying rent get to see a breakdown of house expenses (or at least of their portion towards payment of those expenses). I know a lot of parents bristle at this because it’s none of their kids’ damn business how the parents spend money—but anyone who’s paying rent/expenses deserves to know how that money is being spent.

                If it’s just an arbitrary amount, that’s a more simplified budgeting lesson. Real budgeting involves the ability to reduce expenses, even if it’s just hypothetically, like “when I move out I can save money by not buying x and spending less on y.”

                1. Shellbell*

                  If you do a private rental and rent a house, you don’t see a breakdown of the landlords mortgage. Also, you don’t see a financial break down of costs vs profits of you apartment complex.

          2. Ted Mosby*

            I always love your comments Ann!

            I have to say though, if you have a teen daughter, when you were making less than $20 an hour, chances are expenses were a looooot lower. This has gotten to be a pet peeve for a lot of millennials. I constantly have 40 50 and 60 somethings lecturing me on how they worked hard and stretched a 35k salary at my age like it’s a personal accomplishment not just a sign that the cost of living has gotten out of control and our generation is pretty much getting screwed. I’m not saying you’re doing that (your tone is never preachy like that!) but $20 an hour wouldn’t be enough for rent and groceries in many places.

            I think you’re doing a very smart thing with stuff like kicking her off your plan! I was shocked when I graduated and couldn’t get an apartment with my credit score. I had always worked and spent the money I earned using a debit card. I thought it was GOOD I had no credit card and thus no credit card debt. Nope. Maybe you could charge her some rent and utilities if you don’t already; if she won’t save, you could secretly put them in a savings account for her, and she would be forced to budget a little more.

            1. Alli525*

              This, this, THIS. $20/hr might be more — at the surface level — than Ann made when she was her daughter’s age, but with inflation and cost of living, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t actually work out to less. Plus, Costco isn’t exactly A Corporate Job that offers things like guaranteed hours, health insurance, retirement savings, etc., like many entry-level jobs in previous eras offered.

              1. CMart*

                To be fair though regardless of how $20 stacks up against a comparable wage 25 years ago, it’s still a hell of a lot more an hour a vast majority of non-college graduates are making. Hell, it’s nearly triple the minimum wage, and a few dollars more than I made at a fancy, paid business internship for a well respected firm.

                $20/hr is a very good job to have, especially as a 19 year old, no matter where you live. It might not afford you much, but it’s still a much higher rate of pay than nearly everything “unskilled” out there right now.

                1. Starbuck*

                  If she is working anything close to full time at $20/hour, that is a LOT of money if you’re not paying rent. It sounds like her only expenses are car insurance/maintenance and a phone plan? Maybe food? That probably isn’t more than a couple hundred a month, and she’s probably making a couple thousand a month! If I were housing her and saw that she wasn’t saving anything, I would be pretty concerned and wondering where the heck all that money was going.

                2. Anxa*

                  Yeah. I’m torn on this because I have never made that much money. How many young people are making half that with advanced degrees, student loan debt (or at least years lost not making money while in school 0r having had their parents pay), and actual bills.

                3. Honeybee*

                  That’s because the minimum wage is very low and doesn’t actually work to sustain the vast majority of people’s basic living needs.

              2. Rabbit*

                Not to be a pedant, but Ann’s daughter is working at Safeway, not Costco. Frankly, if she were working for Costco that *would* be a possible career – they do offer guaranteed hours, health insurance, a 401k, regular raises, etc and are extremely ethical about their treatment of employees.

            2. Lucy Honeychurch*

              Not to be rude, but where on earth is $20/hr not enough for rent/groceries? New York and San Francisco, and that’s about it.

              I agree that it’s not exactly riches, but I make $16 an hour in one of the top 10 highest cost-of-living cities in the US, and manage to pay rent and groceries just fine. (I’m a millennial, and in many ways we do have it hard, but $20/hr sounds pretty good to me!)

              1. CMart*

                I just commented something similar. I’m a millennial (who graduated college in ’08 like all the luckiest millennials) and $20/hr sounds really great to me.

              2. Biff*

                It works out to about 37k a year, before taxes. So probably about 27k take home. I’m in Montana right now (not Bozeman) and rent for a decent apartment is about 1k a month. So 12k. Leaving 15k for groceries, savings, healthcare (which may be very expensive despite benefits) clothing, car car, car payment (maybe). For someone just starting out, 27k gets eaten up pretty quickly.

                1. Ramblin' Ma'am*

                  The median American household income for a family of *four* is less than $50,000 a year, before taxes. No offense, but sometimes I see a bit of a white-collar bubble in comments here. The truth is that for most Americans, $20/hour with benefits would be considered a good wage.

                2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

                  @Ramblin’, I am in my mid 30s and $20 per hour is more than I make in my two jobs — I wish my spouse or I made that with benefits.

                3. Gaia*

                  Right but you could live on that. Maybe not take vacations every year or go out every weekend but it could be done for a single person with no kids. I live in an area with similar COL as Bozeman and I’ve done the math. I need, at minimum, $14/hr to get by without needing a roommate. I, thankfully, make about twice that so I get to have nice things. I would not have my nice things (new car, a nice vacation, etc) if I had to take a job making $14/hr but I could have some of them making $20/hr.

                4. YawningDodo*

                  I get you, and I agree that it can get eaten up pretty quickly even in Montana. I live in MT as well, but when I rented an apartment it was only $600 per month for a one bedroom, and when I shared a rental house with a couple other people my share was only $350, not including utilities. Comment lines like these make me feel kind of down, though, because I always feel like I’m doing really well at my current salary until someone starts saying that $20/hour isn’t a lot of money. o_o Money can feel tight sometimes, but it’s not tight in the “I have to choose between paying the mortgage and eating this month” way, more in the “I can’t go on a big vacation every year” way.

                  I could see where $20/month would be less than it appears if one worked retail, though, because I’m guessing it doesn’t come with a lot of benefits.

              3. WaitingforMacaroni*

                It’s not just rent/groceries. It’s the utilities, the phone, the car (gasoline? Oil change? Winter tires installed and uninstalled), the house insurance, the car insurance, prescription meds, other annual fees (in Ontario, it’s the annual car registration, for example). And many have gym memberships, perhaps a 401K (reduces your take home in exchange for a retirement future), perhaps a charitable contribution that is deducted monthly from your paycheck (as some annual campaigns are aggressively pushed on staff), and have an unassailable belief that regular manicures, pedicures and other beauty treatments are essential!

                Your mileage will of course vary immensely.

                Having said that: A single person should be able to stretch that 20/hour a lot further than I did when I earned that much and also supported two kids and my husband and there were “sacrifices”: no cell phone, no cable, only one car, gassing up once a month, do it yourself oil changes, no winter tires (all seasons!), almost no eating out, thrift stores, the bare minimum of extracurriculars, etc.

                1. The OG Anonsie*

                  I don’t want to explode this into another COL Wage Argument Extravaganza, but can we not make out like the only way for anyone to have difficulty at $whatever/hour is if they’re loaded with frivolous expenses like weekly nail appointments and junk like that?

                  And “well you don’t NEED a car” or whatever other assertions about what people are allowed to consider a necessity.

                  Let’s like… Just not do either of those in this discussion, please? It’s inflammatory and not in the spirit of how I feel we should be giving advice around here, for one, but also because it’s inflammatory it’s gonna derail the hell out of the comments on this letter.

              4. Anon for this*

                $20/hr sounds like heaven to me. However, I’ll acknowledge that I live in a low cost of living area. But this site tends to really slant hard towards people in larger areas. Seriously, come to the midwest. It’s cheap and we’re nice.

                1. Anon for this*

                  Uh, that wasn’t meant as people in other places aren’t nice. I meant it to sound a little like the “come to the dark side, we have cookies” thing.

              5. The OG Anonsie*

                Seattle, for one.

                But really in a lot of America, this is needing multiple roommates and being careful money. You can be secure in most of those places, sure, but that’s not the same as being rolling in it and needing to GTFO now with her Rockefeller job.

                1. Honeybee*

                  Yeah, I live in Seattle and my thoughts were that this is maybe juuuuust barely enough to live on here. And you’d need roommates.

              6. Doreen*

                My son makes less than $20 hour in NYC and is able to afford rent (he shares an apartment), groceries, a car etc. NYC is expensive, but not so expensive that a single person can’t live on $40K. He couldn’t afford his own apartment in a nice neighborhood – but I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who moved from their parents home into an apartment of their own. Not now and not 30 years ago – there was always a roommate or a spouse or an SO

              7. Amanda*

                I lived in NYC on $10/hr. Although it was edge of queens, roommate, shitty although not illegal apartment and lots of eggs, beans and rice.

                1. Amanda*

                  And I couldn’t do it anymore, even after getting married to someone who makes a decent salary, due to medical expenses that were actually what forced me to leave NYC.

              8. Mazzy*

                It would be a stretch in most of the larger cities in the US, which is where you’d probably be looking for work.

              9. Julia*

                I made 30 CHF/hour in expensive-as-hell Switzerland and that was enough to live on and save 20%!

            3. commenting from work*

              Expenses are higher but I would still say she’s doing quite well for a recent high school graduate. For context, I’m a millennial who made $10/hr after college and $17/hr right out of grad school a couple years ago. I’m not in a high-paying field, but neither is her daughter.

            4. Ann Furthermore*

              Thanks Ted. :) I know that one can’t live in the lap of luxury these days on $20 an hour, and I know all too well that the cost of living has gone waaaaayy up, especially in the last few years. My husband and I would not be able to afford to buy the house we’re living in now in today’s market, and we both have good jobs and stayed well within our means when we bought it 5 years ago. It’s insane.

              My first “real” job after college had a starting salary of $29,000 per year, in 1994. I was able to live comfortably on that, but what I mean by that is that I was finally at the point where I wasn’t down to the last 8 cents in my checking account by the time payday rolled around. I had a studio apartment, drove an old beater of a car, was able to pay for groceries, utilities, etc, and had enough to go out with friends a couple times a month — but even then it was usually some sort of dive bar where the focus was on quantity not quality. LOL. I also had a ton of old debt, as I had completely obliterated my credit, and every spare cent I had went to paying things off. It was definitely a paycheck-to-paycheck existence, but overall I was pretty fortunate and was able to gain some ground and start building some financial security. One unforeseen catastrophe would have completely derailed that, though, and I was very lucky that didn’t happen.

              I don’t think my daughter could afford to get her own apartment, but with a little budgeting and planning, I think she could get a place with a couple of roommates. Plenty of kids her age are making way less than she is now, so I think she’s comparatively fortunate.

              She may also be able to get tuition assistance through her employer, so if she’s able to do that, she’ll be able to go college and not graduate with a crushing amount of debt.

              1. Former Employee*

                Ann: I think you and your husband are doing a good job of easing her into reality. Each speedbump is more of an eye opener. Besides, every kid is different. Some are actually mature at 16 and others don’t seem grownup until 25. She seems pretty average. The last thing you want is for her to jump into a lease with some sketchy roommate(s) just because she was pushed to get out on her own. Slow and steady wins the race.

              2. Honeybee*

                To have the same buying power as someone in 1994 had making $29,000, a person in 2017 would have to make $48,000 a year. The $37-40K your daughter makes now is much more like making around $22-24K in 1994.

            5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              $20/hour would not be enough, after taxes, to cover basic living expenses in any of the last 5 cities/regions I’ve lived in, which include extremely economically depressed areas with relatively affordable COL.

              1. Lucy Honeychurch*

                I guess we have different ideas of what’s enough, then, because as I said, I make $16/hr and live in Boston and feel very comfortable. (My definition of comfortable: Eating out one or two times a week, saving at least $500/month (split between retirement and short-term savings), shopping at stores like Loft and Old Navy, buying the fancy grain-free cat food.)

                I’m not going to be buying a house or moving into an apartment without roommates any time soon, and I definitely need to save more for retirement in the long term, but for just starting out, it feels doable. That’s just me, though, and I understand that I’ve been very lucky to get to this point.

              2. Namelesscommentator*

                $20/hour works out to 40k a year full time. A pretty standard starting salary for post-college positions. It’s treated me well in NYC, even with student loans and some generous gifts to younger family members. I had roommates and limited eating out, but balance was key and I was totally comfortable, even a little luxurious every now and then.

                I wouldn’t have been able to raise a family on it comfortably, and my benefits package was good for retirement and my parents paid for health insurance (though I would have been able to afford my employer’s plan/marketplace insurance easily had I needed to).

                Barring some major expenses, like needed plane tickets, or medication, or helping a relative, or other dependent, I’m having a really hard time imagining 40k not being enough assuming full time work.

              3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I believe that $20/hour, after taxes, is sufficient for each person who has responded with anecdotes.

                All I’m saying is that there are places in the country—and those places are not limited to SF/Manhattan—where people cannot meet many of their basic needs (housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care) for that salary, particularly if they have dependents. I don’t understand why the response to a factual statement is “ha! I live a great life in a city on less than that” or, impliedly, “your idea of ‘basic expenses’ is extravagant.”

            6. Annie Moose*

              I am sooo glad my mom was like, “we are going and getting you a credit card” when I first started college. I’m pretty miserly (that’s what people call me, anyway–I call it “not freaking out when unexpected car repairs happen” and “being able to go out for dinner on a whim” and “being prepared in case I lose my job”) and likely wouldn’t have gotten one on my own.

              1. Julia*

                That’s so interesting because in Europe, you can totally get by without credit history. I only have a prepaid visa card, the rest is debit or cash. When I rented apartments before, they asked for a debt check with the corresponding authority (in Switzerland they have a country-wide debt registration office type thing) or recent pay slips, plus of course deposit. Same in Japan, plus there they usually want a guarantor.

                1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

                  Aged 26, I have been happily living without a credit card, and am only now getting one because I might want a house one day, and mortgage advisors like these things.

            7. Mazzy*

              I was thinking about this recently. I will be 40 this year and I’m starting to realize that people younger than me don’t see what I think of as a good salary as a lot this year and last year. It is ingrained in my head that $50K is the key to the middle class if you live in an urban area and around $40K if you don’t, and that is so not true now. What I’m really thinking is $70k – $80K, and $40K – $50K was the range for that when I first remember caring about salaries.

              1. Honeybee*

                I’m 30, and I remember realizing the significant gap between what I always heard was a good salary growing up and what actually is a good middle-class salary now, particularly in urban areas. $50K is just on the edge of basic middle-class salary in most coastal areas now, primarily because the cost of living in these places has increased so rapidly. :(

              2. the gold digger*

                I am 53. I think this generation has it really hard. When I graduated from college, with a BA in English, I got a good job ($20k with full benefits, including a defined-benefit pension). My student loans were $13k.

                Now people start at $20k with $200k in debt. The kind of job I got almost doesn’t exist anymore – where they just want to hire good people and train them. College costs have skyrocketed (unjustly, I think). This generation is getting screwed. I feel so sad for them. It’s not fair and it’s not their fault.

          3. TootsNYC*

            It’s not just that she needs to be contributing, but paying rent now is a powerful way to train yourself or acclimate yourself toward what a normal cash flow is like.

            If you want to be helpful, you can always hold that money aside so YOU have it if you decide something later makes you want to help out (like, she’s finally ready to move out, and you can offer help toward a first-month/deposit or a downpayment).

            1. anonny*

              Yes, exactly. I lived with my parents for a year after graduating college, and I created a budget for myself that included hypothetical rent and utilities since my parents didn’t need or want to collect that from me. I had it auto-drafted into a savings account each month. I didn’t want to get acclimated to a standard of living that was unsustainable once I left my parents’ home.

          4. Dolorous Bread*

            My mother charged me $400/month rent when I was working but not in school (I took a year off in between high school and college).
            When I decided to go to college, she surprised me with all of the rent money I had been giving her, to use it towards tuition and books.
            Maybe you can do the same– give it to her when she moves out for a security deposit or what have you. Or open a Roth IRA for her and use the “rent” money for that. Your house, your rules.

            I was also buying my own clothes/toiletries, paying my cell phone bill in full every month, and doing my own laundry since I was about 15. She’s old enough to be contributing and this is a good time to teach her those “personal responsibility” lessons.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              Yep, before her junior year, I started making her do her own laundry. She took a school trip to South America and I decided that someone old enough to go to the Galapagos Islands was old enough to wash their own GD dirty clothes. LOL. She also pays for all her own clothes and other personal stuff.

              I said above that she moved in with us when she was 14 (she is actually my stepdaughter), and I will say that we did let things slide for a couple years and let her get away with more than we maybe should have. But the situation with her mom had become really awful, plus, in many ways she had to be the grown-up in that relationship from a very early age. So we were pretty lenient with her because we wanted her to have a chance to just be a kid in the little time left before she became an adult.

              1. Postess With The Mostest*

                Ann- I wish I could email you, because I’m in a very similar situation (my 13 year old niece moved in with us last weekend) and if she stays, which I hope she does, I could easily see us falling into that same trap. If you feel like saying more, what would you have done differently in your early days with your step daughter?

                1. Ann Furthermore*

                  How kind you are to give your niece a place to live, and I hope she’s able to stay with you.

                  I would not have done too much differently, except regarding money. My stepdaughter’s mom is horribly irresponsible with money, and was always trying to come up with ways to make my husband pay her more child support, even though what we gave her was enough to pay the entire monthly daycare bill, plus at least half of her grocery bill (which I’m basing on what I spend each week for a family of 4). She makes decent money, plus she was getting another $10K per year from us, tax free, since child support is not taxable income. So it was a constant frustration for us. We do make a lot more than she does, combined (although technically my income was not included in the child support calculation, which I know pissed her off), but both my husband and I have been through lean times, and we had a pretty good idea of what her monthly expenses were, and it was clear that she wasn’t spending the child support money on her child. She would routinely get past due on my stepdaughter’s school lunch account, which my husband would always pay off, and then deposit more. About half the time, she would go to a friend’s house before school, and her friend’s mom would make a lunch for her to take to school, and then also give her quarters so her mother could afford to do laundry. When my stepdaughter moved in with us, I had to buy her a completely new wardrobe, down to underwear, because all the clothes she brought with her were faded, torn, frayed, and too small. She hadn’t had a proper haircut in I don’t know how long. I don’t want to get into a debate about how people spend their money, because that is their own business, but from where we were standing, and trying our very best to be objective and understanding about her financial situation, we just could not figure out why she was always perpetually on the verge of financial ruin.

                  Anyway, her mom constantly laid that on my stepdaughter, telling her how broke she was, how they didn’t have any money, how she didn’t know if she could pay this or that bill for the month, she would have to start going to a food bank for food, and so on. This started when she was about 7 or 8, and it was not appropriate conversation material for a young child. The only answer she needed, if she asked for something or wanted something, was, “We can’t afford that right now.” So my stepdaughter worried a lot about money and if her mother was going to be able to take care of her.

                  When she moved in with us, we told her flat out that it was not her job to worry about money, it was ours. We didn’t spoil her, but we got her everything she needed, and a number of things she wanted, within reason.

                  I think the result of going from one extreme to the other — meaning going from having her mom constantly harp about how broke she was, to living with parents who did not involve her in any discussions about money, may have given her the idea that we were “rich,” which we’re not. We live very comfortably, and have enough money for everything we need, but we do watch what we spend, and save quite a bit. But she seemed to get the idea that we could afford, and would, buy her whatever she wanted, and so we had to kind of recalibrate her expectations about that.

                  Best of luck with your niece.

                2. Postess With The Mostest*

                  Whoa. So many similarities to our situation that I can feel chills going down my spine! In fact, just last night I told my niece that money for her necessities was no concern of hers. (She overheard someone quote me about $200 for something she needs and she didn’t like that at all; she felt really guilty. I did my best to reassure her that it’s no problem on our side. We wouldn’t have taken her in if we didn’t intend to take good care of her! It makes me really sad that she has so much anxiety over that kind of thing.)

                  That being said, we are giving her an allowance for “wants” and I mean to be pretty strict about teaching her to use it wisely – no “advances” or anything like that. If she uses it up too fast and has to wait for next week before she can afford a treat, that’s her deal.

                  Anyway, I love hearing stories from other people who have taken in young non-bio kids. It’s early days for us but I’m so thankful to have a chance at helping her have a stable life. Thank you for sharing your story. Even though your stepdaughter is struggling a bit to launch (and no wonder), she was very lucky to have you and your husband to get her out of that situation.

                3. sstabeler*

                  I’m fairly sure that pretty much everyone would agree that it sounds like said parent was being irresponsible regardless- as a rule of thumb, the average cost of raising a child for a year is about $10k, so if she spend the child support money on the kid as she was supposed to, then the kid shouldn’t be in that state, regardless of how much the mother makes.

          5. Artemesia*

            She should be paying rent. You could bank that for her (don’t tell her you are doing that if you do) but to let her live at home while employed and not contribute to the costs of the household is to infantalize her. I know lots of people who bank the rent and present it to the kid when they launch and then they have a nice nest egg.

            Our rule with our kids was that by August after graduation they could only live at home if 1. in college full time or 2.with a job and paying rent. None of them has needed a dime of support since they graduated.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      “But if you are secure financially, and will be once your internship ends. . .”

      The only concern I have is that the mom may be looking at the bigger picture and longer term finances while the OP is looking at whether she can pay her bills today.

      – My mom doesn’t give me any money (but she still buys all the food)
      – She doesn’t pay my bills (but I am on the family insurance and cell phone plan)
      – I don’t have debt (but I’m driving her hand-me-down 15 year old car that’s on it’s last legs)

      I’m guessing the mom doesn’t mind helping now, but wants to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        Agree. Many people who have never run a household have no idea what their subsidized life is REALLY costing. Those lights don’t magically keep coming on, that roof doesn’t magically not have leaks, that food doesn’t magically appear in the refrigerator, and those tires don’t magically always have tread. Adult life is expensive. “Mom doesn’t give any money” =\= “I’m not costing Mom anything.”

      2. Whats In A Name*

        This was exactly where I went. What does financially secure mean after the internship ends in this instance?

        If she can pay her car payment and cell phone bill that is one thing, but what is she contributing otherwise. When I graduated from college (almost 20 years ago – yeesh time flies!) I had a friend move back in with her parents (I was on my own from 19 on) but her parents charged her rent if she wanted to stay there instead of go out on her own. It was still a good deal, because she didn’t have to worry about utilities, groceries, etc. her parents took an average of rent in their city and charged her that. (now, these parents also saved all her “rent” money without telling her and gave it back to her when it came time to buy her first house so she could put down a larger down payment) But boy did she learn quick that she needed to carve her own path, regardless of where she lived.

        Some people thought it was unfair, but she is one of the most responsible people I know when it comes to money.

      3. NPO Queen*

        This was me when I was out of college. It was the height of the Recession and I couldn’t find work at all. I moved back home and had do depend on my parents for things. They were the exact same way with me, pressuring me to apply for nearly anything. Eventually I took a job as a contract technical writer, which had absolutely nothing to do with my East Asian history degree, and I babysat on the side. I never did find a job in my hometown and moved to a larger city, where I got into fundraising. Most definitely not the path I saw for myself, but in retrospect the better path to be on (there were and still are *very* few jobs that relate to my college major).

        Also, if your mom does support you, save up the money from your internship, if you can. Do small things around the house, like cooking and cleaning. What made the biggest difference in getting my parents off my back was that they had dinner waiting for them when they got home. If you don’t have a job when your internship ends, small things like that can make a world of difference.

      4. TootsNYC*

        Actually, I think the Mom is the one thinking shorter-term.

        Getting a retail job is a short-term employment situation for someone like the OP. People *can* make a retail job into a career, but not many people do. Getting a job in your field that has a pathway you can rise in is a long-term way of thinking.

        I have a “not launching” kid who isn’t even in an internship! And I want so badly for her to just to get a job at Target so she will have some damn work experience, and maybe a manager who says, “Yes, she shows up for work on time and is diligent” when asked for a reference. And I think she’d benefit from having the “I did a good day’s work” feeling without having to invent it from scratch herself.
        But I also see it as a short-term way to contribute to a long-term goal. It’s not in her long-term field, but it would give her something productive in the meantime, because otherwise she’s just sitting around intending to do things but not doing them.

        Our OP doesn’t need what my kid needs; our OP *has* a supervisor who can speak well of her at reference time; she *is* getting work experience. To switch over to a generic job right now is foolish.

        1. NPO Queen*

          There are so many valuable skills that you can learn in customer service jobs, even if it isn’t your long-term plan. My part-time work and internships shaped my long-term goals, because it helped me realize exactly what I did and did not want to do at work. I was going to be a lawyer until I interned with one, and that plan fell apart real quick. I also think that if everyone did some work in customer service, the world would be a nicer place. Once you’ve been yelled at because the kitchen forgot to hold the mayo on a burger, you resolve to never berate anyone yourself.

          I started working at 14 because I wanted money but my parents were not the allowance type and chores were expectations. As soon as I started making my own money, they cut me off. I learned real quick just how far a dollar could go.

      5. Tuxedo Cat*

        I’m in my 30s and have friends whose parents subsidize their lifestyles yet they claim to be 100% financially independent. The parental financial support ranges from cleaning supplies gifted a few times a year to clothes to phone bills to paying for vacations to paying for rent…

        I don’t have any of those supports. They don’t understand why I tend to be frugal or how they’re not really financially independent (though they could be). It adds up and adds up fast. I would love to have someone gift me cleaning supplies a few times year, let alone all these other things.

        1. Whippers.*

          Cleaning supplies a few times a year? I don’t think that really counts as financial support tbh.

          1. Kate*

            It depends, cleaning supplies (and other toiletries) can be expensive. Middle of the road toilet paper (the only item I can really remember the price of right now) costs 9$ for 24 rolls at my local Kmart. 1 person can use that up in 3 months, so in a year that’s $36 dollars.

            Even if you keep it pretty bare bones, dusters, toilet cleaner, tub and sink cleaner, window and general surface cleaner, soap for the mop bucket, hand soap, dish soap, it all adds up. They could be giving her the equivalent of $300 a year, which is nothing to sneeze at.

    3. INTP*

      I agree with this but I do think office temp work is a better choice if it’s available than retail/food service. I say this partly because in my experience it’s a lot less likely to interfere with a job search – it’s just logistically easier to take and return calls throughout the day or schedule interviews on short notice, unless the service job will give you only night/weekend hours, which they often promise to do and then schedule you whenever it works for them. It’s also a lot more likely to result in transferable skills and contacts for the industry she’s trying to get into. Sometimes you get hired for the assistant job in your desired field not because of your passion for the mission and knowledge of the field but because you know how to do macros in Excel or something like that. I’d suggest OP apply for temp agencies when it’s closer to the end of her internship, which will probably make her mom happy too. (Of course there’s no reason not to also apply for fast food and retail while waiting for something to come through from a temp agency.)

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Totally agreed about flexibility. The transferable skills thing is probably not as significant, but being able to have a flexible schedule or to take calls/emails, etc., is going to be important and is hard to do in most food service/retail jobs.

      2. Snazzy Hat*

        Seconding this a bajillion times. Once I started working office temp jobs, I learned the following things:

        1) Office work is what I want to do. I resigned from my retail job of over three years after two weeks of being in an office, and on applications I list my reason for leaving as something like, “found employment in desired office environment”.
        2) Good supervisors want me to be independent. I can ask questions, sure, but they love when I’m taught how to do new things and I’m taking notes & going over my notes with them to make sure I’ll do the new thing correctly.
        3) Offshoot of 2, good teams want me to ask questions and understand that the person new to the industry doesn’t know much about the industry. I even had a colleague empathize and point out, “you don’t know what you don’t know”.
        4) It is a hell of a lot easier to take breaks and field personal phone calls than in retail and other temp settings (I also worked temp gigs in manufacturing and warehousing; completely different situation). I didn’t make a habit of phone calls, but I wouldn’t get in trouble if I answered my phone. I could usually easily take a break to make a private phone call as well, if necessary.

        Additionally, the agencies I’ve dealt with in regards to office work have been EXCELLENT to me. Best of luck, writer!

        1. D.A.R.N.*

          Plus you get to learn how to work with varying kinds of people. Stubborn bosses, frustrating coworkers, people who are chattier than you like, etc. It’s a lot of exposure to lots of situations you might encounter later, that the experience will be very useful for…after all, half of working in an office is being able to get along with people and dealing with office politics.

      3. One of the Sarahs*

        Temping is awesome as a short-term solution (and if you live in/near a city) and often leads to other opportunities to get more permanent job.

        What I would recommend to OP, if she’s not being charged rent, so money isn’t tight, is seeing if you can get a 4 day a week temp job, and then volunteer on the 5th day in something that helps your career – it’s win-win.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP, if your mom is supporting you financially, then I agree with her that you probably need to find a way to mitigate the strain on her while you job search. And to the extent feasible, I think you should consider applying to organizations that are not traditionally thought of as “international affairs” organizations but that plug into the wider civil society tableau (similar to the nonprofit at which you’re currently interning). So you may want to consider temping or taking on contract work that gives you the flexibility to go out for job interviews while still pulling down some earnings.

    It may also help to just ask your mom why this is stressing her out and what she’s worried about. You probably know her core concerns, but something might pop out that you didn’t realize was weighing on her, which may also help you adjust how you deal with the pressure she’s placing on you.

    But if you’re supporting yourself other than living with your mom (I assume if you’re paying rent it’s not market rate), then I agree that the solution is boundaries. And please listen to Alison’s advice about not giving her your cover letters to review. You can’t really enlist someone’s help in your job search and then complain when they have opinions about your job search.

    1. Manders*

      This is really good advice. I know this can be a difficult transition when you’re in your 20s and fresh out of school, but sometimes you have to make some compromises about the jobs you’re willing to take. That doesn’t mean that you should accept being underpaid or treated poorly, but it does mean that you might have to wander a little further away from the career path you planned out while you were in school.

      In my experience, graduate programs have a tendency to give students an unrealistic idea of how many jobs are out there in their exact niche and how easy it is to get those jobs. At school, you met professors and professionals who made it in the field; you never met the people who moved into a related but different field, or decided on a totally different career path, or worked in the field for a while but couldn’t survive on a low salary, or bounced around in temp and part-time positions without getting reliable full-time employment. Try connecting with some of the alumni from your program and talk to them about their career paths–you’ll get a clearer picture of what you can do with your degree.

      1. Frozen Ginger*

        “At school, you met professors and professionals who made it in the field”

        I think I should point out that while that’s probably true for *most* professors, I’d say a not-insignificant amount teach a subject different from their own degree. One of my favorite professors for my major (mathematics), who also taught my senior culminating course, had his PhD in Aeronautical Engineering.

        Since OP’s graduated already, it’s kind of mute, but for anyone still in school (at whatever level), try and find and talk to the professors/graduate students who’ve switched from a related field.

        1. fishy*

          Sometimes not even a related field. My music theory professor’s undergraduate degree was in chemistry!

      2. Doodle*

        “At school, you met professors and professionals who made it in the field”

        This is so, so important — not just for grad students, but for anyone talking to someone in their “dream field.” When you seek out advice from people in the kind of job you want, you inevitably hear a lot from the insert-job-here (actors, musicians, tenured professors, etc.) who were successful, and not from those who are now in another field entirely.

        1. seejay*

          My current manager has a phd in music.
          Oh, but he’s a manager in software engineering.

          Figure that one out.

    2. The Wall of Creativity*

      “I think you should consider applying to organizations that are not traditionally thought of as “international affairs” organizations but that plug into the wider civil society tableau.”

      McDonalds it is then…

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I mean, if McDonald’s is part of “wider civil society” organizations :p

        But also, I hate when people refer to employment in the fast food sector pejoratively. It is difficult work that is poorly compensated and given very little value in society, but it’s an essential job opportunity for people who often do not have economic choice or mobility the way OP does. Frankly, no one is too good for honest labor. That said, I don’t think OP has yet reached the point where they’ve exhausted all other options, so broadening their search just a little more could increase their overall odds of landing in a related field (or in their primary field).

        1. KellyK*

          All good points. I worked food service in college, and it was very physically demanding, as well as more difficult than it looked. (Putting together a wrap properly was something I never got the hang of.)

          Also, I think we severely underestimate how useful and important it is to have businesses that provide quick, low-cost food. Between chronic illnesses or disabilities that make cooking difficult, unexpected overtime, kids with forty-seven after-school activities, and long road trips, there are an awful lot of situations in which the person who hands you dinner through a take-out window is a freaking life-saver.

    3. Lablizard*

      Great advice about related organizations. OP, many science policy, public health, environmental, workers rights, immigrant support, refugee affairs, economic development etc. organizations have overlap with international issues and affairs and could be good “bridge” jobs.

      1. Manders*

        If OP has any translation experience, those skills may be in demand right now. My partner had a similar masters’ degree and worked as a translator for a while. He was in a corporate job, but I know that there are positions out there for specialized translators who can help people navigate doctors’ appointments and legal proceedings.

        1. Lablizard*

          In grad school I would pick up translation work to make ends meet. I specialized in scientific texts because of my familiarity with the writing style and language for both languages. It was a great way to earn some money and make connections.

          1. annie for this*

            Lablizard – my company occasionally needs to contract out for someone with this skillet to comply with regulations re translating public notices in communities where English is not the predominant language. Are you still interested in picking up this kind of work on occasion?

            1. Lablizard*

              No, I’m way too busy nowadays with work and no longer need extra income (yay!).

              If you need to find people, though, advertising through international graduate student societies/clubs/groups at universities with the right specialities is a great way to find good people. That was how I found the clients I worked for

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        I wouldn’t even consider them bridge jobs. They’d be opportunities to deal with different specific aspects of international affairs in a way that could broaden OP’s base of knowledge and skills, and make them more attractive to a later “THE Job” job.

        1. Lablizard*

          Good point, especially if she works for an organization with a focus on a global issue, even if her first job focuses on local or domestic front.

        2. Emi.*

          make them more attractive to a later “THE Job” job
          This is a good point! You’ll still learn and gain experience in a less-awesome job (and you may avoid a nasty resume gap).

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Very much agreed. This is how I ended up in my field, and I love it. If you had asked me if I thought I’d be doing the work I do, now, when I was completing my undergrad or law degrees, my job wouldn’t have even registered on my radar. But I found a lot of opportunity once I let go of “THE” job, and I found that I enjoyed it much more than what I thought I’d enjoy.

  4. Turanga Leela*

    OP, can you and your mom set a date for when you’ll start looking at jobs out of your field? For example, if it’s six weeks before your internship ends and you don’t have a career-track job, you will start applying to retail and food service jobs. Having an agreed-upon date for that could help reassure your mom and cut down on your stress.

  5. Temperance*

    LW, have you considered the fact that including your mother in the process is hampering your progress? She’s not an expert on international affairs jobs, but she certainly sounds like she has a lot of opinions.

    1. Anna*

      It sounds more like mom is concerned that OP isn’t finding a lot in her field and the OP’s internship is coming to a close and the OP doesn’t have anything at all lined up. Mom is probably more concerned that OP is on the cusp of unemployment, which is probably not a great prospect.

      It just really depends on how much support OP’s mom is giving. If it’s a lot, mom has every right to be concerned. If it’s not that much, mom can chill out.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yes, that was my read as well. It also sounds like OP’s mom may have seen her wait too long on her internship search and doesn’t want her to delay in starting her full-time job search in earnest. There is nothing wrong with lining up a a job, even part-time, in retail/food service to have some income after the internship ends but with enough flexibility to allow for full-time job searching and interviewing. I know a lot of people look down on those types of jobs, but I had a manager who used to pull people with food service and retail experience out of the resume pile because she felt like people who could successfully deal with the general public would not be phased by some of the challenging personalities in our profession.

        I think, in OP’s position, I would put together a plan for job search and proactively update Mom on what’s going on. If the mother is overcompensating for what she perceives as procrastination, maybe if she had a full picture of the efforts OP has underway would allay her concerns.

        I also think that, if the mother is providing financial support, they need to have a clear and direct conversation about what the mother expects from OP in terms of contributions to the household and what the timeline is for continuing to live at home.

      2. The OG Anonsie*

        IA, though I don’t think it’s possible to know where mom is coming from without more info. She may be assuming that the LW is in massive trouble because she’s going on the somewhat outdated standard of everyone having a job lined up months and months before they graduate, and that plus the previous gap is making her think the LW is doing something Terribly Wrong or is unemployable when the whole situation is actually pretty normal.

        Either way, the LW should suss out if mom is worried about something specific (like expenses, a date when she’ll have her house to herself again) to see if she can help alleviate those specific concerns, OR if mom is just being A Parent and set some boundaries.

  6. Pooja*

    I have a master’s degree in a somewhat related field. Despite having various internships and assistant positions during graduate school, my job search has been horrendous. One of the biggest errors I made in the beginning of my job search was thinking i had the luxury of being picky about jobs when the reality was I didn’t. It wasn’t uncommon for hiring manager to tell me over a 100 people applied for a position I was interviewing for, grants never came through, or internal candidates were promoted. I’d strongly encourage you to view your job search differently and reconsider your mom’s advice. You just never know what can happen.

    1. ZSD*

      Yes and no. I agree that the OP might well have to start searching for jobs outside of international affairs, but that doesn’t mean they need to jump to fast food. They could start applying for other office-y jobs that aren’t exactly in their desired field but will still be good for their career.

      1. aebhel*

        This. And I’m saying this as someone whose first job out of college was working as a housekeeper for a year and a half : even low-level clerical jobs are going to be a better jumping off point, from both a pay and a resume perspective, than the service industry.

        But yeah, when you’re just starting out, you really can’t afford to be picky.

        1. Anon Anon*

          Agree. I remember when I finished grad school, I was looking for a career related job. I was hoping to find a job in X, but I wasn’t that picky as long as I felt that it could provide experience that would be beneficial for future jobs. I had about 5-10 interviews a week, including a few call backs, and some of those interviews were hours from where I was living. If I had taken a full-time or fastfood job or retail job I suspect I wouldn’t have been able to go on most of those interviews. Despite my mothers insistence at the time that it was better than nothing (no it wasn’t). And even now I wouldn’t do that, if I had any other option. Temping, substitute teaching, etc., are all more flexible and better jobs.

      2. INTP*

        Yes, I think this is the better long-term solution. Office temp work is a good idea – it might start off with some difficulty but when you get good reports, they will send you for better and better jobs. And of course, applying for any kind of entry-level office jobs.

        It might pay less than some restaurant and even fast food jobs, but it’s a lot more likely to result in transferable skills and contacts. Frankly it could make the difference between OP getting The Job when it does open up, or not. International Affairs orgs have accounting/marketing/HR/IT departments like anyone else, and when they hire they’ll require experience with certain software programs and such that OP could pick up working in the same department in pretty much any company. I know the economy has picked up since I graduated (2010) but it seemed like so many of my peers that thought they would just work at Starbucks or wherever until a job in their field paying a living wage came along wound up stuck there for so long they basically weren’t qualified for anything else.

    2. EA*

      My best friend works and has a masters in international affairs. Maybe I am wrong, but I get the impression it is a ridiculously competitive field. She interned (unpaid) for 2 years in DC after grad school, then got an assistant position, and not almost 5 year out of college finally got promoted to do the work she wants to do.

      I am really happy it worked out for her, but not everyone has the financial resources to do that. She has a trust fun, so that is how he interned for 2 years.

      1. Julia*

        Yup. I used to live five minutes from the UN offices in Geneva, and knew a few students studying international affairs or similar and hoping to work (or intern) there. They don’t pay a salary, and it’s freaking Geneva, one of the most expensive cities in Europe. Unless your parents have money, you can’t intern there. Thus, the UN keeps its jobs to the same people from the same money background and no one from lower social classes, whose insight would be valuable to the freaking United Nations, stands a chance. It’s maddening.

        1. krysb*

          There was a guy just a couple of years ago that was interning for the UN and living in a tent nearby because it was an unpaid internship with no care to living costs. Issues like this is why only certain people with certain backgrounds are able to take these traditional career routes – and it’s a stupid, sucky system.

          1. Julia*

            That was only last year or the year before, and I think it turned out to be a hoax, but it is true that the UN and similar organizations basically prevent poor people from ever advancing there.

    3. paul*

      I’ve got a friend with an advanced degree from the Penn State School of International Affairs; it took her nearly 2 years to land a job in academia and she never get into the diplomatic corp like she’d wanted.

      1. The Optimizer*

        I used to work in finance with someone who had a degree in international affairs. She worked her way through college as a clerk in a law firm and ended up getting a paralegal certification along the way. She couldn’t find the work she wanted and that’s how she ended up in the legal department of a financial services company. She thought she was a shoo-in once she passed the test (FSOT) but it probably took her at least another 3 years and many applications before she was finally accepted and got THE job she always wanted. Those jobs are unbelievably competitive!

      2. Gov Mgr*

        As a former diplomat, I’d say she shouldn’t give up. People make a lot of assumptions, such as if they pass the written test they are a shoo-in; if they pass the oral test they are a lock; and if they don’t get past the first hurdle, they should give up. I passed the whole process twice, but the first time was never offered a job before I timed-out from the list of eligibles. The second time I went from oral assessment to my swearing-in in six months. And I did it all with an unrelated BA and unrelated MS. So it’s a bit of a tangential piece of advice for your friend, but she should not give up! I know some wonderful FSOs who took three, four, even five or more attempts to actually make it.

    4. Lablizard*

      Interesting! Everyone I know who had degrees in international affairs got jobs in a heartbeat. I am guessing because they were bi-, tri-, or quadrilingual often in languages (e.g. Uighar) that aren’t common in the US?

      1. paul*

        My friend spoke Japanese and Mandarin Chinese reasonably well but wasn’t fluent in them; she could have a conversation but wouldn’t ever pass for a native (according to her, I don’t speak ’em so can’t judge). I don’t know how much fluency matters.

        1. Lablizard*

          Maybe that is it. The folks I know were foreign students in the US, migrants, or first generation born in the US, so fluent another the language, culture, etc.. It probably didn’t hurt that they were all Central Asian, Caucasian (as in from the Caucasus region) or Middle Eastern, which are “hot topics” nowadays

          1. Honeybee*

            Yes, a lot of languages from those regions are critical languages that Americans are far less likely to know and learn and that aren’t offered at a lot of American universities. We’re just getting to the point where a solid number of universities are offering coursework in Arabic – and one can still attend a college or university without strong support (or any) in Arabic, much less Farsi or Hindi et al. Most American college students take a Romance language or some other European language, which doesn’t really make them as competitive in international affairs as they would think – and also, our idea of fluency/conversational is far less stringent than most other countries’.

        2. BF50*

          In my experience, fluency really matters. Conversational level skills really only help in service positions, possibly sales. If you can’t accurately translate jargon, being multilingual is a wonderful, life enriching skill that doesn’t often lead to higher income.

    5. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Yeah, this sounds a lot like the last few years of my job search as well – I’ve been trying to get into government in-house legal positions, which are ostensibly entry level but are hugely competitive. I’m currently in the process of expanding my search to include private firms, something I certainly wish I’d done years ago. The perfect is the enemy of the good, etc etc.

    6. L*

      International Affairs major in DC here. IA jobs are few, far between, and underpaying, so I think your mom is right that there will be a gap between when your internship ends and when you’ll find a full time job. In addition to looking for a full time job I would start thinking of what kind of part-time or other work you are a) qualified for and b) could help you further your career.

      Since you have a focus on a particular part of the world rather than a particular subject matter, I would actually urge you to think about getting a job in that part of the world. Jobs teaching English are very easy to come by in many parts of the world and often come with great perks–housing assistance and a ready-made expat community of your fellow teachers–in addition to allowing you to gain first-hand experience that will benefit you both as someone who specialized in that region and on your resume.

      Otherwise, think of what kind of work you want to be doing or what topics are currently in demand for that part of the world. If you want to do work that involves a lot of research, look for jobs that also require research in some way. If access to healthcare is important in that area, then find an office job in the medical industry. Retail and service are not the only options, but you do need to broader your search from just jobs that require an MA in IA.

      1. Intrepid*

        Another international affairs major in DC. These jobs are, from what I’ve seen, HUGELY competitive, highly concerned with availability, and they often only consider people already living in DC. I think developing your regional expertise by moving to the area you want to build your career on would be very strategic and would make you a more competitive candidate when you do return.

        (And, if you don’t move abroad, try to move to DC. People are much more likely to hire those already living in the area, however you can make that happen.)

    7. The OG Anonsie*

      I have sort of an opposing viewpoint. I took my job search out of school with the assumption that I just needed A JOB and it was especially good if it was tangentially related to my field. I graduated at the height of the recession and entirely rejected the idea of being picky, but the search still took many months. I ended up getting a tangential sort of job and eventually made it into the type of work I wanted to do from there.

      In hindsight, that job was not the best move for me or my career. Since I had the luxury of being picky and sitting around looking for A Good Job vs A Job, I think I should have taken it. I didn’t because I didn’t want to be the 22 year old living at home not contributing any longer than I had to be. The that job wasn’t awful, it had ok hours and ok pay. But it was not a good jumping off point because of how the role was treated within the org, I had no opportunities for growth or skill building, and the organization had a culture of shunning anyone who left (meaning all the relationships I had there evaporated the day I left after many years of busting extreme hump for all of them). All together, what seemed like a good resume piece and place to start actually turned out to be a lot of hard work for a largely stagnant few years.

      Not everyone has the luxury of being picky, and not everyone should. But if you do have the luxury, I don’t think it’s wise to decide what to do based on the optics of being the adult child at home still. Really evaluate what the best move for you will be, because in a couple of years no one will remember or care that you were with mom for a couple extra months.

      1. Anxa*

        I would go so far as to say that slogging through the discomfort of mooching off my parent was the hard work I wasn’t willing to do long enough and gave up on too soon. Getting a job just to bring in money was the short-term, quick-fix, lazy move for me. I regret it every week.

        1. The OG Anonsie*

          Oh wow, that is such an interesting way to characterize it. I was grasping at whatever I could to get out from under the discomfort and pressure and humiliation of it– the eyes of all the folks commenting here judging the LW for living at home and telling her to pay for herself and get out ASAP because Adulthood and etc.

          I grew up in a place/class level where you get your first job as soon as it’s legal at 15 and get out at 18, the kind a lot of folks above are… I think kind of inappropriately using as a “there are people who have it worse” way to guilt and argue against the idea of familial support. My mom was secure enough when I needed help to be able to let me stay there for a while, but the shame of it was so intense at every waking god damn moment. Getting a job and getting out as fast as I could was the EASY way.

          Making career moves because we have a cultural disapproval for living at home as an adult is not a good idea.

          1. Wheezy Weasel*

            +1 on this. I’ve heard people in my post-college social group look down on fellow students moving back home while their parents gifted them a used car with substantial trade in value, loaned money for a first home down payment, paid for family vacations, and similar things. I’d hazard a guess that living at home for even 6 months to transition to full-time employment can set someone a bit ahead of their peers in terms of lower student loan balances and other savings.

            1. Honeybee*

              I remember when I was in college, I was eating lunch with one of my friends who’s from the Caribbean – I believe she is Jamaican – and I mentioned in passing wanting to find a job quickly so that I never had to return to my parents’ home. I remember she sucked her teeth and said “You Americans, you’re always so eager to run out on your own!” She said that where she’s from, parents expect you to come back home for a few years after college. They prepare a little place for you in their home so you have a bit of independence, and you’re expected to live at home and save up some money so you have a springboard to buy your own place in a couple of months.

              I’d never really thought about it, but that conversation sparked some longer-term thought in me on why much of Western culture is so obsessed with forcing essentially older adolescents out into independence so abruptly, and why we look down on multi-generational households. Multi-generational households are actually the norm in many other cultures- each generation works together to help take care of the others in various ways.

              1. Julia*

                Yes, yes, yes! It’s much more economical to share a house with family (people), share cores etc. It also means less people are isolated and suffering from modern day mental health issues all by themselves.
                I say if it works well for the people involved, they should totally stay together.

              2. friendlyinitials*

                Yeah, where I’m from (Turkey) you’re only expected to leave home when you’re married. Although, we are extreme in the other way where, especially if you’re a woman, you shouldn’t leave if you can logistically stay with your parents. I moved out 6 months after I got my first post-grad job, and everyone who knew my parents also live in this city asked me how it was that they were allowing me to leave. I was 26! My parents are cool with it but they did micromanage the heck out of the house-hunting process.

  7. Jessesgirl72*

    I know someone who lived first with his parents and then later with his brother and sister in law for 3 years, without contributing anything, because he refused to take a job outside his field.

    LW, you say your current company is too “fast paced” even if they were hiring, and admit that the jobs available to you are very limited- and limited to places with very high COL, I might add. At some point, you are going to have to give serious thought to looking outside your field, and yes, possibly working retail or fast food in order to at least contribute to your support. Your mother is telling you this.

    If you can support yourself, then you can tell her to back off- and move out. If she is supporting you, then you don’t have a leg to stand on.

    1. Not Karen*

      “At some point,” sure, but OP is employed until June and it’s only been a month. Why give up so soon?

      1. Anna*

        I don’t think it’s giving up “so soon.” I think the OP can apply to any of the jobs in their field their qualified for AND look at other options. OP has only been looking a month and it’s already April is how I’m seeing it.

        1. The OG Anonsie*

          But you only need a week, two weeks to get a fast food job. She doesn’t need to start looking at that for months yet.

          1. Zombii*

            A week or two weeks if that. ;P

            Back when I was in college the first time, I applied for a food service job and got a call for an interview the next day. There were three parts to the interview. Part one: “This job pays x.” Part two: “What size uniform shirt do you wear?” Part three: “Do you have any questions?” I asked when the job started. Turns out it was less of an interview and more of a first day.

            This happened twice, at two completely different franchises.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I’m guessing mom is hearing, “I’m going to live here for free until I find the perfect job, in the perfect field.” Honestly, I think mom knows the great job won’t materialize and she is being patient to let the OP figure it out on her own.
      The OP should be thinking of a stepping stone job that will give her more skills and then she can try for the better job. There are many Jr Analyst, assistant marketing, and associate roles that will make her more competitive in her chosen market.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        I agree, but with the caveat that OP should be looking for jobs that genuinely move their career forward. A masters’ is a significant investment of time, energy, and money, and I don’t blame them for wanting to use their 4 years of undergrad and 2-3 years of postgrad work for what they were intended.

    3. Juli G.*

      The “too fast paced” also jumped out to me. I’m not an expert by any means but when I think about those type of jobs, most seem fast paced. It might be good to see if you can connect and network with others, maybe through your alumni network to ensure that you have the right expectation for the pace. Maybe you do and I’m completely off but if you spend 6 months or longer to find a job that ultimately won’t suit you, that could be an issue.

    4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Yeah, I’m a little concerned about that “too fast paced” comment. Most actual professional jobs that engage this educational background are, almost by definition, going to be fast-paced, busy, overstretched, and subject to late hours and meetings at weird times with people in other time zones.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        The OP is going to end up at an nonprofit or NGO, most likely, or the low person on the totem pole at the State Department if they are extremely lucky and connected, and those positions are known for working your tail off.

        She might want to consider the Peace Corps or Americorp.

        1. The Not Mad But Sometimes Irritable Scientist*

          Those work your tail off too. They’re understaffed and underfunded.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I did the Peace Corps. It’s true you sometimes have to adapt to the mindset “Sometimes you wait for the bus, and it doesn’t come, but it might come tomorrow.” (Everyone in my year who was going into medical school came back a couple of months early to get themselves out of the slower time frame.) It was an immensely valuable experience; it was not easy or low stress–same for Americorp, for which I knew a few volunteers. (We went from the PC, and they from AC, into my husband’s very high stress graduate program at a top school.)

          Don’t consider those programs as the solution if regular jobs are too stressful.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      The comment about the current job being too fast-paced also pinged me. Not knowing the environment, I can’t comment on whether that’s an outlier in the field or if that is a potential problem for OP in a job search. I hire people with similar educational credentials, but I work in a very fast-paced legal environment and everyone that goes into those positions has to be prepared to work quickly and a lot. I am also in DC, and the pace here tends to be brisk in general. I wouldn’t recommend moving here if fast-pace is an issue.

      1. Confused Teapot Maker*

        That also pinged with me and, potentially reading too much into this and projecting personal experience onto OP’s, made me question whether OP actually wants a job in that field or just wants what they THINK is a job in that field.

        At the start of my current career, I used to work in the subset of my industry which is seen as the incredibly glamourous and creative one. What you don’t realise until you’re in it is that it is only those two things about 5% of the time. The other 95% is a lot of tedious admin, physical labour and playing industry politics. The balance skews the further up the ranks you go but, even at the top, I would still say it’s still no more than 20:80 in favour of the non glamour and creativity stuff.

        Oh, and did I also forget to mention it’s probably among the worst paid and most competitive subsets of the industry, and I eventually moved on because I had rent to pay. Turns out, subset I’m in now is way more enjoyable than I expected and allows me to be creative in ways I didn’t imagine it would do – and, if I do say so myself, I’m actually not that bad at it either!

        However, I still come across so many people starting in the industry who say things like, “Oh, I interned in your former subset but they made me do XYZ rather than the actual work so I was really disappointed.” And, I’m stood there like, “Erm, no. XYZ IS the actual work you’ll be doing if you land a job in that subset so, if you don’t like doing it, you need to rethink your career plans.”

        Not saying that’s definitely the case for OP – and OP’s company could definitely be the exception rather than the rule – but it did remind me of those conversations.

  8. DC resident*

    If you’re looking for “just a job,” try applying through temp agencies in DC. You may do a lot of administrative work, but at least it’s not a total diversion like fast food/retail.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      That’s a really good point. Also, applying for jobs in DC is much easier when you live in DC–there are simply so many applicants for positions that already live here that it can be hard to get serious consideration if you don’t live on site.

    2. Allie*

      I agree – admin temping is far different and less likely to be something she won’t want on a resume, like retail or fast food. Plus the right kind of admin could be a connection.

    3. Also An International Dev Master*

      There are several great DC temp agencies that work with non-profits specifically!

    4. Hanna*

      Maybe I’m misreading, but it doesn’t seem to me like the OP necessarily lives in DC, just that’s she’s been applying for jobs there. If she lives elsewhere, will that affect temp agencies’ interest?

      (Or maybe she does live there, and my point is moot.)

    5. LQ*

      I’d highly recommend this too. It gives you the chance to see other work, what people do, and yes sometimes they do turn into full time jobs in areas you might not even know you’ll love. (That’s what happened to me, I didn’t even know the job I got existed!)

    6. theletter*


      I’ve worked in retail, and it’s not that easy to get hours at the store when you start. Food service is a lot tougher than people realize. But if you can answer phones and type, you can sit at a front desk. There’s also jobs that involve, well, various levels of cold-calling. They can be very tough on introverts but it’s a great way to hone those phone skills, and it will feel more like an interim job rather than a means of making ends meet. Lots of NPO’s need people who can phone-bank a donor list, and if you mean to stick with NPO’s, it may be helpful to have some experience in that.

    7. BF50*

      I agree. It will give you an idea of different office cultures and in DC random temp jobs are more likely to be in the right industry vs those in NYC or SF.

      The issue is making enough to live on while temping and still having enough time to actively job hunt while possibly working 40 hours a week.

  9. Not Karen*

    Personally I think it’s a parent’s obligation to support their children until they are financially stable on their own. You’re obviously working hard and trying hard to get another job, so I don’t understand what more she wants from you.

      1. sstabeler*

        I’m not sure I disagree with Not Karen, actually. Specifically, I DO believe there is a parental obligation not to kick their kids to the curb as soon as they turn 18 (metaphorically, anyway- I doubt anyone would disagree that literally showing your kid the door at midnight on their 18th birthday is unreasonable) and the OP IS actively looking for a job. There’s a difference between taking advantage of parents to do nothing all day, and geting parental support while you hunt for a new job.

        1. paul*

          I have to confess to having a streak of cynicism here. while I kind of doubt it’s the case for OP I’ve seen more than a few people stay at home through their late 20s and while, sure, they’re “job searching” it seems like they’ll only take a perfect job that pays way more than an entry level deal will.

          1. Just Another Techie*

            You know a very different sort of 20-somethings than I do. Most of the 20-somethings I know work four or five jobs simultaneously, working through most weekends, while also doing unpaid internships or portfolio building in their field of choice. I got real lucky and found a job in my field right out of college, and have been on the coveted 9-5 salaried with benefits career track ever since, and I don’t think I’d survive working the way most of my peers do.

            1. paul*

              I’ve known someo f those too; I’ve seen both ends of it. But that’s why I’m hesitant to do a blanket statement.

          2. sstabeler*

            I don’t disagree- I DID say that taking advantage of parental support to do nothing all day is different- but a) far too many “entry-level” jobs require experience and b) it can come off as “people NEED to experience poverty so they are properly grateful when someone condescends to give them a job that will actually pay the bills”

        2. Morning Glory*

          I get why parents would choose to continually support their children this long, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing necessarily.

          But on a larger level, I think it’s bad for society when middle and upper-class grads receive parental support through grad school and after. It widens the class divide as poor young grads take any office job they can find, while more comfortable grads get to be picky. I don’t think the OP’s mom should be pushing fast food jobs (yet), but the advice to widen the OP’s job search to get a job faster is reasonable.

          1. Aveline*

            Being able to see this as an obligation is a very class privileged position to be in.

            The only people I know who feel this way are either affluent or wealthy. It’s not a common POV among the poor.

            1. The OG Anonsie*

              I mean, I grew up poor and you’re right. But I don’t like the cultural bent a lot of us have in the US about “once you’re an adult you pay or get out and preferably both.”

              I don’t think you’re obligated to let your kids live with you forever, but I also don’t think the deep distaste people have for familial support makes sense either. All the comments here going “you’re too old to be at home, you better be paying in, that’s why your mom is made” are assuming a lot, I think.

              1. Artemesia*

                You don’t raise responsible adults by shielding them as adults from the realities of life. I have a sibling who is a gazzilionaire who could have provided for his kids for their whole lives easily. As teens he expected them to bank X each year for college and each was quite creative about finding or making summer jobs to earn the stipulated amount. They all did chores. They were all expected to support themselves when they graduated. And all his kids are hard working and successful people who don’t lean on their parents for financial support. Adults who live in a household should all be supporting that household, certainly in chores and IMHO also with money.

                You don’t ‘need’ the work of 5 year olds around the house either; it is more trouble than it is worth. It is part of raising good people to expect them to contribute and learn to take care of themselves.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  Very well put.

                  I knew an elderly couple whose downsizing to a small apartment was in part driven by the desire to make sure ‘just moving in with mom and dad’ would no longer seem an easy solution for one of their offspring.

          2. The OG Anonsie*

            Oh yeah, it’s part of why many fields are gated so solidly to only allow in people from wealthier backgrounds.

            I don’t think the solution is for families to reject giving this support when they can, though. I think it’s for universities and organizations to not set standards that require having received that support to meet them.

            1. Morning Glory*

              I agree with this – there’s a lot of generational bashing along this topic that’s not called for, with millennials who graduated in a bad economy and cannot find any job. That said – the OP sounds like she’s being too picky right now, especially her comment about the internship being too fast paced.

              I graduated in 2012 in DC with a degree in international affairs and no parental financial support. It took me three years of other office experience to get into my field – so the idea of waiting not just for a job in international affairs, but the right-paced perfect fit in international affairs strikes me as unrealistic (and if I’m being honest, unfair, since it’s an advantage benefit I clearly did not have).

        3. MegaMoose, Esq*

          I’ve got mixed feelings here. I do think it’s important to recognize that it can be hard to get a career going, even if you’re doing everything perfect and not being too picky but still picky enough. That’s a really hard balance to find – I’m in my thirties and have screwed the pooch on that one more than once! At the same time, though, it’s important to let kids find their own way and that might involve some tough love. My mom told me in high school that if I wanted to keep living with her after I graduated, I would need to either be taking college classes or paying rent. I’m sure that if I’d taken option number two I’d still have been getting a lot more support than if I was living on my own, but at least would be taking on some more adult responsibilities.

          1. Lablizard*

            My parents were willing to support me in the US while I was in school, but said I was on my own once I finished, with the option of coming home if I couldn’t do it. It was fair, but terrifying, as graduation approached. I managed to find a job that would sponsor me for an H1-B about 2 weeks before my student visa ran out!

          2. LBK*

            Yeah, I fall somewhere in the middle like this. My mom paid my rent for a little while after college and it did give me time to get settled and get on my feet in a post-school world, but eventually she said “Okay, I’m not paying your rent anymore starting in X month, so figure out how you’re going to pay it by then.” I mean, I’m sure if it came down to it she wouldn’t have let me end up on the street, but she put a clear deadline on when she expected me to be independent.

            I get that generational wealth is part of what perpetuates inequality…but at the same time, if you’ve worked hard yourself to earn what you have, I think make your child’s life easier than yours was is one of the rewards you should be allowed to reap. It’s when you’re passing down more of your own inheritance than income that I think it starts to really create an economic divide.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Yeah, I don’t think the problem with generational wealth is the families with enough money to help their kids with the rent or buy them a car or whatever. The problem is the outsized political influence of a tiny number of absurdly wealthy families whose descendants not only don’t have to work, but have so much money that they literally can’t fail at anything they do. And the fact is that most people will never, ever interact with this group because they live in completely segregated worlds, and yet we are happy to shape policy to their needs (i.e. the estate tax) because everyone thinks they’re going to be rich one day.

              But I digress. :)

              1. LBK*

                Just like the famous Steinbeck quote goes: “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

      2. Just Another Techie*

        Same. Our parents’ generation, by and large, is the one that wrecked the economy, wrecked home prices, wrecked college tuition costs, wrecked any chance of earning a living wage without a college education, and drove wages down with union-busting and pro-robber-baron policies. If your kids can’t survive in the world you made, you need to own that and help them out.

        1. Just Another Techie*

          Nevermind all the bull pucky I’ve heard from my parents and loads of other people their age about “following your bliss” and “get a career not a job” and “do what you love.” I’m sorry but no. You can’t tell a whole generation of young people to follow your bliss and do what you love and then act all Shocked! and Appalled! that young people listened to you and are holding out for dream jobs.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Man, you are singing my song! “You can be anything you want to be” + “Do you want to be stuck working retail your whole life?!” + “It’s always worth it to get more education” = don’t give people crap about holding out for a better job, scorning retail, or getting an advanced degree.

          2. MegaMoose, Esq*

            I can’t bring myself to blame my parents for teaching me the lessons they learned and not recognizing that those lessons were out of date. My dad in particular drilling into us the idea that if we went to a good college (as he did), it didn’t matter what we studied, we’d do fine. He was an English major who ended up with a successful career in banking after getting a teller job by walking into a branch off the ski-slopes (probably while stoned) and getting promoted up the ladder. It worked for him so I can’t blame him for thinking it would work for us.

            1. Cordelia Naismith*

              And the thing is, that advice isn’t necessarily untrue. There are a lot of jobs where your undergraduate major just really doesn’t matter. That’s not true for every job, and there are plenty of jobs where having a graduate degree in a certain field really does matter, but it’s still true for a lot of jobs. Didn’t we have a thread here a while ago about people working in fields completely unrelated to their college major?

              1. MegaMoose, Esq*

                Yeah, there’s really no one right way to do this whole wacky thing called life. That said, I do think there’s pretty solid evidence that degrees have been significantly devalued across the board, and wages have certainly not kept up with cost of living.

                1. Cordelia Naismith*

                  I agree with that. I also think that because undergrad degrees now mean so much less than they used to, then it matters less, not more, what you major in. I work at a university and I see so many students who hate their major and are just really unhappy, but their parents are pressuring them to major in [biology/business/fill in the blank with whatever type of job was just in the news] so that they can get a good job when they graduate. I don’t think that kind of pressure is serving those students well.

                2. MegaMoose, Esq*

                  That’s a good point that I hadn’t thought of. Honestly, I’ve tried to think about what advice I’d give my (currently imaginary) kids, and I’m leaning towards encouraging them to take time to really think about what they want rather than jumping on any particular path. Of course, by then I’m sure I’ll be fighting the last war just like my parents did.

              2. LBK*

                I think if you have the privilege of being able to go to school for something that might not necessarily lead to a stable career, it’s worth doing as long as you’re willing to go another direction when it’s time to actually make money. That’s what I did and I don’t regret it (went to school for film and my career has been in finance).

              3. Dankar*

                Right. I just saw an article that posited English majors are the most employed (though not in fields directly or even tangentially related to their degree).

                It was my (bliss) degree, so I’m a bit biased, but I think that English majors are so often told how low their chances are at finding a job that most diversify their education. I took a ton of internships and held some really unrelated jobs while I pursued both my undergrad and grad degrees before ending up in the field I’m in.

              4. Jadelyn*

                I’m getting my degree in Human Resource Management in a few weeks. We were just joking yesterday about how suddenly I’ll be the most qualified person here, on paper anyway, since I will be the only member of my HR team at work to have a degree in HRM – my manager’s undergrad is in film theory, and our VP’s was public administration.

            2. Cordelia Naismith*

              I want to be clear that I’m not saying this is universally true across the board. There are fields where your undergraduate really does matter! Nursing springs to mind, for instance. But there are lots of fields where it just doesn’t matter. And there are also lots of fields where, if a degree in that field is required, a graduate degree is the one that matters! It’s not one size fits all.

              1. Cordelia Naismith*

                I got the comment threading wrong. This was supposed to be a reply to MegaMoose, Esq upthread a bit.

            3. commenting from work*

              Yup. My dad retired this year from the job he got straight out of his master’s program at 23, after many promotions. Even in that same exact company, someone coming in at entry level couldn’t do that any more – no more pensions, more moving out to move up, more reliance on contractors, and you can’t get to the top without a Ph.D anymore. My parents realize things are different now and just pity us a bit, I think.

          3. NotAnotherManager!*

            Not everyone with Boomer parents were fed this line of BS. Again, this type of thinking seems much more prevalent in middle/upper-middle-class-plus families, but a lot of us were told to major in something “practical”, get work experience even if we didn’t love the job, and be prepared to support ourselves ASAP. One of my friends from high school wanted to major in theater, and her parents wouldn’t pay for a theater degree. The compromised on her double-majoring in theater and business, which ended up working out well for her — she’s worked for a decade as the business manager of a mid-sized theater and gets to act occasionally as well. Following your bliss is for your days off and your hobbies.

            Honestly, I get tired of the whole Boomers-ruined-EVERYTHING whining. There is a large swath of the population who has little influence on these shifts and has also been badly affected by the wealthy and corporate interests driving policy in their own favor. My Boomer parent has no pension, limited retirement savings, and had to take a shitty, underpaying job for the health insurance (after being laid off by her employer of 20 years) so that she had coverage for chronic medical conditions that are life-threatening if not carefully managed. She will never be able to retire and live indoors at the same time. And she doesn’t have the luxury of moving back in with her parents — they died 20 years ago. My in-laws live in a dying rural area with no hospital within 30 miles, which is terrifying as they age and develop health problems, but they own their land/home free and clear (location = resale value not enough to fund relocation) and can’t afford to move.

            1. Ramblin' Ma'am*

              Big thumbs-up to your second paragraph. The median wage has been stagnant since 1973. Most Boomers are still in the workforce and will not be getting this mythic cushy retirement–and, like American workers as a whole, most won’t receive a pension. I see a lot of equating “Boomers” with “wealthy Boomers.”

            2. Risha*

              I am honestly stunned that my parents survive on their VERY small amount of social security and a few thousand in savings left over from a car crash settlement. I’m not sure I could do it. But neither my brother nor I are in a position to help other than a few dollars here or there, and working isn’t an option – my mother has been on disability for the last 20 years, and my step-father would almost certainly qualify at this point too, if he hadn’t hit retirement age first.

              (And then they vote Republican, and have no idea why I tell them they’re working against their own interests. THEY didn’t hear anything on the news about the Republicans wanting to cut Medicare or Social Security. Ugh.)

            3. Whats In A Name*

              Paragraph #2 = spot on. You could be me. Where I grew up it wasn’t a middle/upper-middle class. But then again where I grew up has been slowly fading for years and years, so there isnt’ much upper-middle class there. Regardless, we were all taught to work hard. Paycheck doesn’t pay the bills? Get a 2nd one. Can’t afford vacation? Don’t go. Can’t afford a new car? Don’t get one.

              My baby boomer father will likely work until the day he dies. Selling and relocating to a better area can’t happen because of property values. No pension to speak of and while he has saved some the reality is he couldn’t have anticipated everything and quite frankly on his salary growing up “saving” was pennies. *if* we went on vacation it was to a KOA or a day trip to the mountains as a treat.

              Meanwhile my baby boomer mother got out of dodge 30 years ago and is getting ready to retire at 60 (divorced 30+ years ago) and while she can support my younger sister much more than she could me at the point I was in college but she doesn’t. My sister gets the same I did and pays for the same I did. State tuition covered, a roof and necessary clothing but she works and has to earn her fun money.

              At 35 I went back to grad school (which I fully paid for) in a new field and my mom thought I was a lunatic for following my dreams when I had a stable, though not high paying, job/industry/experience to count on for a paycheck. All boomers, in my experience, are NOT “follow your dreams” people, they are “get your own money and stop spending mine” people.

          4. Jadelyn*

            Oh, don’t get me started on my rant about the toxicity of “follow your passion” personal development culture! All these life coaches and whatnot about how you can turn your passion into your livelihood if you just try, “leap and the net will appear”, etc. but without some practical talk about the need for a financial safety net and how maybe not all passions can be monetized, it does a huge disservice to people.

        2. Jesmlet*

          I agree that the older generation needs to own up to their share of the blame. With that said, I don’t know how far that should extend. Helping your kid is one thing, allowing them to bum around the house and half-ass a job search with unrealistic expectations is another. This does not sound like what OP is doing, but in general there should be limits to their obligation to help.

        3. Julia*

          This. Imagine my rage when my mother-in-law told me husband and I needed to find better-paying jobs before she’d “allow” us to get married, because who was to provide for her in her old age?

    1. Adonday Veeah*

      I agree, somewhat. However, I don’t believe a parent has to cater to an adult child’s preference of how they become financially stable. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to insist that one’s adult child get a job, any job, and support themselves while looking for niche work.

    2. EA*

      I think her mother is probably good intention-ed. A lot of parents (like mine!) have not job searched sense the 1980s, and have very different ideas of what is normal.

      I know when I tried to tell my parents that is not how it is done, they responded badly, and I wasn’t trying hard enough, because I didn’t want to just show up to drop off my resume. It’s a generational thing I think in some cases.

      1. Temperance*

        My FIL actually once printed out his resume, put on a suit, and then handed it out to anyone one the street who looked important (read: other old white men in suits). He was trying to get a job at a luxury car dealership because he thought it would connect him with “important” people.

        And yet, he still offers us unsolicited, bad career advice.

      2. Jadelyn*

        I agree, it’s absolutely generational. My father, who works in an extremely niche skilled profession (the type where everyone in a given region knows everyone else) and has gotten every job he’s had in my lifetime via networking when someone else in his field reached out to him about a job, used to give me the old “pound the pavement” crap when I was in my early/mid-twenties. No matter how many times I told him that isn’t how you get a job anymore, he would insist that that was the only way I was ever going to find work.

        1. L.*

          Yes, I had trouble getting my parents to understand this when I was severely underemployed in 2009-2010. They hadn’t had to look for a job for about 30-40 years (!) and wanted me to just visit places I wanted to work and ask for an application. I did that, but even retail/restaurants would invariably send me to their website to apply, and then I never heard back because the market was so bad. Then my parents would ask why I was messing around on the internet in my room all day, rather than looking for a job.

          1. Gumption!*

            “I hear the TV on in your room! How can you be applying for jobs when the TV is on?” I…can walk and chew gum at the same time?

          2. Jo*

            God, I went through this exactly a few years ago after grad school when I was living at my parents’ house while job-searching.

            I was applying online like a normal 2013 person, but my mother was constantly on my case for spending all my time alone in my room “doing nothing,” so she insisted I go out and start job-searching. Never mind that that is exactly what I had been doing…

            Every. Single. Place. I walked into told me to apply online, because that is how it is done now — but my mother still forced me to go out, walk into any place we saw, and ask for an application, only to be told yet again to apply online.

            Finally I just started going to Starbucks and doing all my job-searching and applying there.

        2. Lynxa*

          I had the same problem when I was laid off recently (and I’m almost 40!) The model for finding jobs is SO different now, and my parents cannot understand that no one wants or expects job applicants to show up at their office anymore. They drove me nuts about going to offices to show interest (and we don’t even live in the same state!)

          I still find jobs through networking, but it’s through people I already know, or meet in social/professional groups.

          1. Gadfly*

            I am in my mid-thirties (and got my last job through networking) and the ways I found my first couple jobs (newspaper ads, Monster-type sites) seem to be dead enough I have no idea how to proceed. Advice for people who were looking twenty or more years ago has got to be even more useless.

            I’ve noticed a lot of larger retail places even just have an application station now where people can apply online in the store.

        3. Gazebo Slayer*

          Ugh, I get that too, and I am so goddamn tired of older, financially stable, successful people condesplaining at me about how they know more about the job market I’ve been in my whole adult life and the fields I am searching for jobs in which they know nothing about.

      3. Risha*

        My parents worked blue collar jobs and, 0ther than a low level courthouse job that my step-father landed via cronyism when he was laid off a year or two before retirement, hadn’t looked for a new job since at least the 80s. I understood their perspective when I was unemployed and desperate the last couple of years, but telling me to just go out and get a fast food or similar job temporarily (not easy to get these days! I tried that!) was not particularly helpful. And they just flat out didn’t believe me when I said that I needed my internet access because it was literally impossible to apply to most jobs without it, even those low level jobs that they were pushing me towards.

        1. Greengirl*

          Yup. I had two friends with law degress in Utah who could not get their mother/mother-in-law to understand that YES, they had applied to jobs at Walmart and not gotten them.

        2. Lynxa*

          My roommate has a degree and can’t get hired at a fast food job OR retail. Even Wal-Mart and other big box stores. The job market is TOUGH.

          1. Risha*

            Yep, I couldn’t even get a call back about Christmas seasonal work at Target or Walmart, jobs that _expect_ you to be temporary.

            1. Gadfly*

              Couldn’t be they are afraid that better educated employees might have a sense of their rights, could it?

        3. LBK*

          Yep, I used to do hiring in retail and people like the OP weren’t desirable candidates. We much preferred people with retail experience and/or people who weren’t just using us as a temporary holdover – while you obviously expect a certain amount of turnover in a low wage service industry job, I still didn’t really have any interest in training and developing someone who I knew would be out the door in 3-6 months when I had plenty of other applicants who’d stick around longer.

        4. Zathras*

          Yes, this is a great point. And even if you manage to get that retail job, it’s not uncommon for them to require full-time availability but only actually schedule you for a few hours a week, so you’re not actually making enough money to pay rent with. This is especially true when you are new; if you have been there a long time and they like you, you are more likely to get as many hours as you want.

          This was my experience even with an otherwise great retail gig during the recession – which I only landed because there was a connection between some other jobs on my resume and they type of retail store it was. Once I had been there long enough that they knew I was a good’un, they were always trying to get me to work more, but it took time to get to that point, and I was very lucky my mom was housing/feeding me during that time.

          1. Honeybee*

            And deliberately only scheduling you 3-7 days in advance so you can’t easily plan the hours for another job around their hours.

        5. Mrs. Fenris*

          I have a doctorate in a niche field. Retail and fast food places wouldn’t come anywhere near me if I tried. I literally could not get a job in any field or position except the one I’m in. It’s scary in a way.

    3. Anonygoose*

      Whaaaaaaat? It absolutely is not. Certainly up to a point it’s nice if parents can help – perhaps help them for a year or so post-college, but definitely not beyond that.

      And there are plenty of people who genuinely can’t afford to support their adult children. At all.

      1. Not Karen*

        It sounds to me like OP is still in that year post-college (graduate school, at least).

        Are you suggesting that everyone should be financially able to support themselves straight out of college? With what windfall?

        1. Judy*

          There are a lot of people who have jobs during college who stay in those jobs after college while looking for a job in their field. That’s what I did, because my parents did not want me moving back home. There are a lot of people who can’t move back home for whatever reason.

          1. Honeybee*

            A lot? I acknowledge that this was your experience, but I would not say that “a lot” of college students have jobs during college that can easily turn into full-time jobs that pay a living wage after college. Maybe “some.”

        2. Anonygoose*

          But you said ‘until financially stable’. As another comment pointed out below, the OP is dead set on only looking for jobs in their (incredibly competitive) field. Assuming that the OP is planning on living off the Bank of Mom and Dad (as there is no indication otherwise), it’s not unreasonable for her mother to insist that she get a job, any job, to pay the bills and that will lead to financial stability. If I had insisted on just waiting for the perfect job to come along, while my parents were paying my bills, they would have done the same – told me to get a job to pay the bills now while I looked for the “perfect” job.

          1. misspiggy*

            Yes – I worked doing data entry in the evenings while volunteering to get enough experience to apply for jobs in my field. I didn’t earn much, but I covered my own bills and paid some rent and housekeeping to my parents.

        3. Aveline*

          “Are you suggesting that everyone should be financially able to support themselves straight out of college? With what windfall?”

          Are YOU suggesting that all parents are somehow magically able to fully support adult children indefinitely?

          A lot of parents can’t afford to do this and you are coming across as either ignorant of their situation or dismissive of it.

        4. aebhel*

          Loads of people whose parents who can’t support them indefinitely do exactly that.

          I’m sympathetic to the idea that parents should (if they can) support a new grad who is genuinely struggling. I don’t agree that parents have an obligation to indefinitely support their adult child while that adult child searches for the perfect job. ‘Apply for jobs even if they’re not your dream job’ is not excessively harsh.

        5. Anon Anon*

          In our family, you are either enrolled, employed, or enlisted if you want to live at home. With a three month grace period immediately following graduation (so you can look for a job) if the economy is good, and a up to six month grace period depending on the economy. To me that has always seemed very reasonable. You don’t get an endless free ride, but there is a soft place to land in case you don’t land a job immediately following graduation.

          1. caligirl*

            Is that you, sister?! Same for my family but no grace period… 18th birthday was the line in the sand. Stood in line for 6 hours on the last day of junior college registration (this was in the pre-internet days of yore) and when the line didn’t move at all that made 50% of the decision for me; the other 50% was that we also ‘got’ to pay rent at home (and parental rules still applied). Um, no… if I am paying then I’m living by my own 18 year old rules!

      2. Adlib*

        This. My sister lived at home until she was 31. She took a job teaching in Mexico 4 years ago and still lives there. It’s not great pay, but she’s finally living independently. The whole situation was maddening.

        My college roommate’s parents told her not to unpack when she got home from college. Fortunately, she found a job and moved in 2 weeks, but they literally could not support her any longer and expected her to do the adult thing. Actually, her example of becoming independent so fast inspired me to do the same so I left home that fall.

      3. Becky*

        Yeah my parents could not have supported me at all. They didn’t pay for my college, they loaned me some money in particularly rough spots, but that was it. I completely disagree that parents have an obligation to financially support adult children. Help some, yeah, but support them? No way. They are adults they should be striving to support themselves as adults.

        I have had a number of jobs that weren’t related to my field at all. Even the job I currently have which I really love, is only tangentially related to my degree. You get the jobs you need to support yourself. If there are rough spots, yes you reach out to family, but to expect your parents to support you as an adult is massively entitled thinking.

        1. Aveline*

          There’s often a presumption on this site that everyone is suburban American. A lot of working class parents, farmers, immigrant parents, etc. cannot afford to live by the norms of that world.

          I know a lot of people who can barely support their young children. As soon as you are old enough to work, you do.

          1. Salamander*

            Having been raised in a relatively blue-collar background, I don’t know anyone in my peer group who was able to live at home in their twenties. It just was the way it was, and I didn’t question it. I don’t think anyone had their dream job or anything, nor was there really an expectation of a gaining a dream job on the blue-collar side of things. Most of us were barely scraping by, in retrospect. I think it was a combination of several factors: the parents wanted us out, we wanted to get out, and the parents couldn’t afford to keep us around.

            It seems like things have shifted. I’d be curious to know if there have been academic studies done on this topic.

            1. Temperance*

              FWIW, I’m from a similar background, and for the most part, my friends had to live at home and were “encouraged” to help with bills. A high school friend of mine, who is now a physical therapist, was more or less forced to help pay the mortgage on her parent’s home, even though they didn’t help with college whatsoever.

              1. Gadfly*

                That is more my experience–especially with divorced parents, there would be pressure to help mom or help dad. Done well it worked for both, but it isn’t easy to do well.

              2. Honeybee*

                So am I and I’ve had a similar experience. My family is blue-collar as are most of the adults I’ve grown up around, but many people in my generation returned home to live for a few months. They were generally working, but didn’t make enough money to live independently yet and needed a bit of time to save up. My brother and sister both lived at home past 18 – my brother moved out around 19, I think, and my sister lived at home a long time and then moved in with my aunt because she still doesn’t make a living wage. She’s 26.

                I also have some friends who returned home to help their parents out as much or more than they needed the help. Two friends had fathers who were laid off during the recession and went home to pay rent so they could help their parents keep their houses while dad looked for another job.

    4. Judy*

      “Financially stable” =/= “working in my field”. Financially stable means you have a job that pays your bills.

          1. Jessen*

            A lot of places (like where I live), a single room in a house with roommates is still unaffordable on a minimum wage job. The people I knew who lived on their own were generally working 60-80 hours a week just to make ends meet. Not everyone has the stamina to make that sustainable.

            1. TL -*

              That doesn’t mean that their parents are going to be willing or able to financially support them, though. My parents have always been clear about the support they will give me and I’ve planned around that and I honestly think that’s what parents should do.
              No parent owes their adult children a living and you’re not a bad parent if you expect your adult child to support themselves.

              1. Cordelia Naismith*

                That is true, but it isn’t as easy as just saying, “get a fast food job while you job search.” That’s just as impractical as thinking you can live for free with your parents indefinitely.

                1. TL -*

                  I wasn’t saying it was that easy, but plenty of people get by without their parents supporting them after college, and plenty of parents are good parents without supporting their kids after college.

        1. paul*

          That still doesn’t equate to only looking for a job in your field though. It’s not “be a member of the Foriegn Services or flip burgers” out there.

          1. Judy*

            Yes, exactly. There are plenty of part-time jobs one can get with some experience (which she has from interning) that aren’t minimum wage, even if they are still low-paying. I spent a few years working in a bookstore chain. I wasn’t rolling in cash by any means, but I was able to pay my bills.

        2. Anonygoose*

          But even if they are living at home, it’s not unreasonable for a parent to ask an adult child to pay at least for their phone bill and a small amount in rent, even if it’s not market rate.

          My mom charges my brothers rent – it is sitting in a high interest savings account until they are stable enough to move out and need a bit of ‘moving out cash’.

          1. K.*

            At one point, an acquaintance of mine and her two siblings were all living at home as adults and their parents charged all three of them rent and did not give it back to them when they moved out. They were also responsible for any expenses associated with their cars (lived in the suburbs where no car = no mobility) and cell phone bills.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Yep. I had plenty of friends whose parents started charging them rent as soon as they got their first job at 16 or 17. It was a proportion of their (usually tiny) pay, but the purpose was to get them in the habit of budgeting for expenses beyond “new jeans” or “movie with friends.” Might not be what I’d do but I absolutely see the value of it.

              1. Writer*

                I wish my parents had done that. I got used to spending my whole paycheque in high school and we never talked about budgeting.

              2. Julia*

                I don’r know. I feel like charging a 16-year-old rent is wrong. The kid didn’t choose to be born, it was the parents who created the kid, they knew the kid would need to sleep somewhere and eat at home for at least 18 years, go to school etc.
                If my parents had charged me RENT at 16, I would have moved to my grandma’s house.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  I’m talking if a kid makes $500/month, mom and dad are charging $50/month. It’s a tiny amount of their pay, and the purpose is just to get them in the mindset of budgeting for fixed expenses and not just blowing every paycheck. It was a learning opportunity for the kid, not “now I’m gonna get some of my money back from this brat.”

          2. krysb*

            Yup. I moved back home for 6 months when I was 21. I was home for maybe 3 days before there was a sign on my door that said “Get a job or get out.” While I lived there, I paid rent and for my own food and gas to get to and from work (even though I worked with and rode with my mom).

        3. Parenthetically*

          I recently heard on an NPR story that there is no state in the US where a full time minimum wage job can cover the average rent in that state.

          1. Intrepid*

            I believe it. Granted, I’m in a HCOL, but it took 1.5x minimum wage and 7 roommates before I hit solvency.

          2. Anxa*

            I’m pretty sure that that applies to a 2BR apartment. Which, of course, is important, because there are plenty of single parents who need a second room for children. Plus it can be hard to even find 1BR apts.

            1. Kate*

              I live a half hour outside of a city that is consider low COL, in a rent controlled apartment. I make about 1.5 times the national minimum wage and my 1 bedroom apartment still takes a full 50% of my income after taxes.

            2. Parenthetically*

              There are also states with “heartbeat laws” that legally forbid having more than X people sleeping in one room. Designed to stop slumlords from cramming a family of 12 into a bedsit, but when rents are out of control it also puts a huge burden on the working poor.

        4. Whats In A Name*

          That’s why I worked 2 jobs until I was 30. There was no reason for my parents to be supporting their adult child because I wanted things my paycheck couldn’t afford me, like no debt or my own place.

          Not to mention the embarrassment of saying my parents supported me. I moved out my sophomore year of college and never looked back. I worked 1 job during the year and 2 in the summers to pay living expenses.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Different strokes, though. I moved back home with my folks for a year before grad school and worked as a TA in my mother’s classroom, and there were no hard feelings on any front because they were supporting me. It was really a blessing to be all together for what turned out to be the last time before my brother got married and during a pretty turbulent time in my extended family. My parents’ mindset was that it was a really really tough economy, they had been blessed with financial stability, and it was a gift to us to give us a stable place to launch from. And we both became normal successful adults, and I’m not embarrassed at all to say my parents helped me out during that time.

          2. krysb*

            I maintained a 1 full-time job with a part-time job (and at times, 2 full-time jobs with a part-time job) to keep me running during my 20s. At 32, I personally think that hard work paid off – not because it looks good on my resume (retail jobs do not really fit in there), but it gave me character. Now, because I apparently can’t hand downtime well, I work full-time, am a full-time student, and volunteer.

    5. Sassy AE*

      Sure, that’s a valid opinion to have, but unfortunately people’s circumstances don’t really work out that way. Also, oftentimes taking a job that doesn’t specifically align to your interests (especially when first starting out) pay out in the long run.

      Coming out of school I hated the idea of “doing” social media for a job, but I knew about it so that’s what I do now. However, I’m building experience I can take to other jobs and companies (my true passion is state-level public affairs), who need some help understanding the Twitter.

    6. Manders*

      Oof, I feel… conflicted about this. On one hand, it’s wildly unfair to kick a kid out of the house the moment they become a legal adult and expect the same level of success from them that you’d see from people who had more financial support. On the other hand, I have known adults in their 20s and 30s who became so comfortable with the status quo of being supported by their parents or partners that they never took work (or cleaning the house, or preparing food for themselves, or making their own doctors’ appointments, etc) seriously until the threat of eviction lit a fire under their butts. And I also have friends from cultures where it’s normal to keep living with their parents until they get married, and their parents expect to move back into their household when they retire. So there’s no one-size-fits-all thing that all parents can or should do for their kids.

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        So, this is my brother-in-law. My in-laws are wonderfully accommodating, and would have loved to have my husband and his brother live at home until they were married, and my mother-in-law in particular never had them lift a finger. They did no chores, nothing. My husband moved out after his first year in university, worked two jobs and went to school, and has never moved back in. His brother is turning 26, took six and a half years to finish his degree while not working, has never held a job for more than a couple of months, and still does nothing–doesn’t work, doesn’t particularly look for work, doesn’t do chores, doesn’t pay rent, doesn’t contribute in any way. My in-laws have demonstrated very clearly that while they would be happy to have him living at home while working and contributing, or at least striving to do so, his utter lack of anything is grating on their nerves. It’s a real thing, and some people are just not motivated until they have a damn good reason to be. I think there’s a middle ground there in between “boot them out on their 18th birthday and wash your hands” and “live with mom and dad forever in your childhood bedroom and never lift a finger,” and I think it’s fully reasonable for a parent to expect their child to work at something, even if it’s not a dream job–while they are helping to support them.

        1. paul*


          One of my coworkers has 3 adult children living at home with her. They all work, but none of them apparently contribute to bills…it’s baffling to me

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            I moved back home after college, but I was expected to pay rent. And not some token rent either, or one that was handed back to me when I moved out. I paid more in rent a month than I’d have paid in just rent for an apartment- but meals, utilities, etc were included. Then I got tired of fighting with my mom about the neatness of my room, so I started paying her, separately, minimum wage for her to clean it to her standards. The only separate bill I paid was my cellphone bill and the public transit back and forth to work.

            As a result, they also treated me like an adult who could come and go as I pleased. I would just call if I weren’t coming home, so they wouldn’t worry.

          2. CheeryO*

            I mean, if it’s working for them, what difference does it make? I know a few people in their mid-20s who make decent money and are still living with their parents rent-free so they can pay off their student loans faster. Their parents are all fine with it as long as they help out with cooking, laundry, etc.

            It’s obviously a privileged position to be in (especially is they aren’t contributing to the cell phone plan/car insurance/whatever), but I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with it.

            1. paul*

              Because she complains about it at the office, constantly! Complains about how expensive their cell plans are, how much food they eat, how noisy the house is, how much cooking and cleaning she does, etc. That makes it annoying as hell.

              It got so bad our boss told her to stop.

              But even discounting that I think it’s grossly unfair to call that an obligation on her part. If she chooses to she certainly can, but that doesn’t mean that others have to.

        2. Manders*

          Yeah, I’ve had some roommates and relatives who were failures to launch in large part because lying down on their safety net was more comfortable than climbing out of their comfort zone. I even had cousins (in their late 20s!) who refused to move out of my dead grandmother’s house for months because they had never lived anywhere else and didn’t know what to do with themselves.

          Buuuuuuut I also know that I got where I am today because I had such generous parents and a supportive partner. I also know that the post-college job market was not what I imagined it would be, and I did some scut work I thought I wouldn’t have to do with a BA.

          1. all aboard the anon train*

            I have an uncle like this. He’s in his late 50s and refuses to move out of my grandfather’s house because he’s never lived anywhere else and doesn’t know what to do with himself without someone to take care of him. It drives me crazy that my grandfather still takes care of him – up to and including making sure there’s dinner for him, as if my uncle is incapable of making his own food. I know my mum and other aunts and uncles are also annoyed by this behavior. Maybe that’s why my parents were so adamant about me and my brothers learning to be independent.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              My brother still lives at home- although they do make him pay rent and be employed- and my parents have suggested to me that when they die, I let him just keep the house, and that I get everything in the house. The contents are worth more than a very old house on a major street of a small rust belt town.

            2. Julia*

              My uncle is over 70 and my 95-year-old grandmother cooks his food and irons his underwear whereas he can’t even go to the store for her.

        3. Jadelyn*

          My partner was like this in his twenties. Not that he couldn’t have moved out – he had a really good job in a skilled trade and made excellent money for his age by the time he was 22 and finished his apprenticeship. But his mother had always taken care of literally everything for him. She made his appointments, she paid his bills – with his money, but she would write the checks out of his account and send them in for him, she did all the cooking and cleaning, everything. He was still living there right before we got together, moved out only when we were ready to get a place together, and I had to teach him How To Adult for those first couple years. It was just a “path of least resistance” thing for him, he was so used to her having absolute control that merely growing up didn’t break that spell until he had a Real Reason to want independence.

          1. Salamander*

            A close friend who has a partner who was raised like that. She has really, really struggled with dealing with this. I don’t think I could do it.

            1. Whats In A Name*

              It ruined a relationship of mine in my early 20s. His paycheck paid the bills but he didn’t even know what his income/out flow was. And when he asked his mom for his checkbook to start managing his own money she flipped out and blamed me for it. He was 25 and had been working full time since 18; no college.

              He got married a few years ago and finally moved out of his mom’s house. I feel bad for his wife if things are the same, which I am assuming they are since he is now close to 40.

      2. MegaMoose, Esq*

        Agreed – it’s easy to say “just find that sweet middle ground!” but there are so many variables in play. I lived in Switzerland for a while a couple of decades ago, and it was very common for people to stay at home or partially supported by their parents much longer than was then common in the US. Now I think we’re adjusting to the idea that because of economic changes a parent’s role might need to be more hands on longer than it used to be. Maybe that means living rent-free, maybe it means getting a loan or gift while in school to help with expenses, maybe it means something else. I think it’s a mistake to say there’s a single “right” way to support young adult children, or be quick to assign a moral value to one option or another.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Especially when even having the ability to financially support adult children is a luxury so many people don’t have.

          Insisting that you have to do it shows some class bias.

          1. MegaMoose, Esq*

            Indeed, which is why I think it’s important to recognize that privilege and work toward social policies to help support parents and childless young adults both.

    7. all aboard the anon train*

      To what end? What if a child decides they only want to work their “dream job” and refuses to get a job outside of that field/position, and then are in their mid-20s/30s/40s? Should a parent still be obligated to support them?

      I agree that parents should financially support children, but to a certain point. Once you’re an adult, it’s pretty entitled to expect your parents to fully support you financially if you’re capable of getting a job. Doesn’t matter whether it’s your dream job or a part-time job, if you’re capable of supporting yourself, you shouldn’t expect someone else to support you instead.

    8. KL*

      I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. If something doesn’t come around by the time this internship ends, then she’ll need a Plan B. While we don’t know the LW’s financial situation, she needs to be able to pay bills (or share of the bills) after the internship is done. If she doesn’t have a job or any financial cushion, how will she do that? Does it stink or is it fair? No. But, she’ll need something while she’s looking for something in her field.

    9. Judy*

      Her mom wants her to get any job. There’s nothing keeping her from looking for a job in her field while she is working at another job. It seems like her mom would keep letting her live at home as long as she currently has a job (be it retail or fast food or temping), but doesn’t want to see her not working while looking for a job in her field. The timeline is a little weird – if she still has a few months in her internship, then she shouldn’t be looking for retail/fast food jobs quite yet, but she does need to iron out a plan with her mom that if she hasn’t found a job in her field in X weeks, that she’ll start applying to other things.

      1. Judy*

        Hey, I’m a regular reader and sometimes commentor here for a few years. Could you please pick a different sign in name? Thanks.

        1. animaniactoo*

          May I respectfully suggest that given this is a known name and may well be that poster’s actual name, that you change your name to reflect the difference between the two of you rather than asking them to? Something along the lines of “Judy (the original)”, “Judy (since 2015)” or “Judy the First”?

          1. Judy (since 2010)*

            So you’re suggesting that someone who has posted here since 2010 should change their sign in name because a new person wants it? To my knowledge I’m the only one commenting with Judy here since then, until this post.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Well, there’s not really a dibs system in place, so animaniactoo’s idea does seem more practical than trying to keep an eye out for infrequent posters and asking them to change. When I started commenting here a few years ago I used my name, but there were a few other people floating around who did too since it’s fairly common, so I ended up changing to something more distinctive. Easier for everyone that way.

              1. The OG Anonsie*

                It’s a little bit of a dibs system, I’ve seen Alison kindly ask new people popping up with long-time commenter’s names to change them before.

                I’m The OG Anonsie because I was Anonsie for years and then someone started commenting as Anonsie. I asked if we could both differentiate somehow (so their comments wouldn’t look like they were mine, even if neither of us was still just Anonsie) and IIRC they just ignored me and kept posting that way, which was aggravating because unless someone happened upon the instance in the comments where I brought it up they’re likely to assume the other person is me now.

            2. animaniactoo*

              Not because they “want it”, but because if it’s their actual name, they have as much right to be known in a non-username-registration-system by their actual name as anyone else with the same name. And it just seems easier and kinder imo to say “oh whoops!, looks like there’s more than one of me now, I’ve noticed this, so I’ll change my username to note the difference” than to ask someone else to change theirs.

              If it was fairly clearly a name pulled from a fictional character, I agree that it would make the most sense to say “Hey, I’ve been posting under this name here for several years. Would you mind switching to something else so we don’t get confused with each other?” but I think names that have a strong likelihood of being a poster’s actual name are a different category in the “who had it first” stakes.

              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                Yup. That’s what I did! I was originally on here as “Victoria” and then when another Victoria started posting (like… more than five years ago, eek) I just switched to “Victoria Nonprofit.”

            3. Lynxa*

              You’re the only person you have any control over though ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I thought it was a pretty sensible response.

            4. Whats In A Name*

              Well – your reply certainly wasn’t welcoming to new people and I feel comfortable saying the majority of us like seeing new people and perspectives!

              1. Judy (since 2010)*

                I guess I took offense because I see comments requesting newbies to pick a new name it seems monthly and have never seen anyone reply like that. I also felt like I was told, “Hey, that name is probably hers, so you can’t use it even if you have been.”

                I don’t comment much since Alison asked us to stop making comments unless we are sure it adds something new to the discussion, which this probably doesn’t. Sorry Alison.

                1. animaniactoo*

                  fwiw, I’ve never seen someone be asked to change their name before, so this was new to me. I hope my reply above explains where I was coming from and I apologize that I wasn’t clearer to begin with when I suggested you change rather than asking her to.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Hmmm, I don’t see it come up that much! I can only think of a couple of times when I’ve seen it. I don’t see everything though.

                  I think generally when you pick a name that others might easily choose as well, there’s kind of a built-in risk that someone else might use it too, especially as the site grows. So if you think that’ll bug you, I think it’s smart to do something to make it more your own (like you’ve done with it in this comment).

                3. Halpful*

                  One of the things that makes this difficult is, iirc, there’s no way to get notified of replies to *your* comments without also getting notified of every single new comment on that page. So the random passer-by is unlikely to see your request unless they’re obsessively monitoring new comments. And the notifications themselves have no context either, so you don’t know who they’re replying to unless you click through…

        2. SomethingOtherThanJudy*

          My apologies. I didn’t realize people were supposed to have unique screen names here. It’s my first time posting.

    10. Allie*

      On the other hand, not having a safety net makes you more independent. My parents paid college but nothing else, which meant I took a variety of jobs in college and during summer to make ends meet. Those ended up being pretty valuable experiences. My friend on the other hand, her parents still support her brother who is in his 30s as he keeps switching careers. I think absolute statements don’t really work in this kind of situation. Pulling the rug out isn’t good, but some people need a push or to have to function on their own or they never become independent.

      1. Judy*

        I had a similar situation. My parents paid for my tuition, but I had to come up with the money for books/housing/my car (which included insurance, gas, maintenance, parking passes)/fun money. I babysat from 12-16 for cash and then from 16-on had a part-time fast food job where I worked 20 hours a week during the school year and 40 during the summers. I also had part-time jobs in college. It was unthinkable to my parents that I wouldn’t have some kind of job when I graduated, even if it was still part-time. If I had come home with no job and said I wanted to spend six months looking for a job in my field, they would have laughed so hard they cried and then shown me the door.

      2. Tuckerman*

        The flip side of this is ending up in unsafe situations because you try to create a safety net for yourself. For example, staying in abusive relationships because you’re struggling financially, working jobs that are not quite above the table or have safety-related issues, living in unsafe buildings.

        1. Allie*

          As I said, it’s not an absolute. But I did go to a school that pulled from wealthier populations and saw how parents who always gave their kids everything ended up with adult children who didn’t work.

      3. Becky*

        I always knew my parents would not be able to support me in college so I started working and saving up money my senior year in high school. I got two different scholarships that gave me full tuition and my savings from work took care of housing, supplies, food etc for two semesters (I moved 1500 miles away to go to college). After that I had a patchwork of scholarships, pell grants, student loans and various jobs to get through college. It took 11 years for me to complete my bachelors degree because with rising tuition and housing costs I would have to stop taking classes for a year or so or only do part time school while working full time. In all that time I only asked my parents for money twice when things got particularly rough. It was a total of about $500.

      4. Kate*

        I really agree. I have some cousins that needed a lot of discipline growing up, they were extremely strong-willed. Trying to get them to clean their rooms or do homework was a real adventure! My sibling and I were very eager to please and a light reprimand would have us falling into line immediately. Trying to raise the two groups the same way would have been disastrous!

    11. fposte*

      I shy away from words like “obligation,” but overall what I think depends on the kid, on the parent, and the situation. Mom works two shifts minimum wage to support a 25-year-old daughter who won’t try for other jobs because she wants to make it big in Hollywood? Can’t see that being Mom’s obligation to support.

      And in general, I think the key in making post-adulthood support work is clarity on the arrangement. A mom who isn’t okay with an unstated expectation that full support will be coming until the right job in the right field turns up at some unstated date might be fine with a plan that temping will occur now and in four months if no interviews have been gotten in the first choice field the seeker will broaden her search.

    12. Shadow*

      ha. Plenty of kids will mooch as long as their parents allow them to. That’s no way to teach independence and financial responsibility.

    13. WG*

      Actually, as a parent of an adult child, I believe parents have a responsibility to raise their children to become independent, productive, contributing members of society. That does not mean financially supporting them until the children choose to consider themselves “financially stable” and move out. There are any number of reasonable scenarios for how that could look, depending on the situation.

      If the OP’s mother is just trying to keep the OP’s expectations of what can be expected of the mother after the internship, that is what parents should do. If the mother doesn’t want to financially support the OP and is setting the expectation that the OP needs to find employment that will allow OP to support themselves, there is nothing wrong with that. The mother may not be going about it in the best way by pushing fast-food jobs from the outset, but it is reasonable for parents to not financially support their adult children indefinitely.

      1. Salamander*

        This is eminently reasonable. It seems like Mom and OP need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart, and there need to be clear lines about how long things will continue, who’s paying for what and how long.

    14. Aveline*

      Would you say that if the parents were below the poverty line?

      Is this an “obligation” that exists for them as well?

      What if the parent would have to eat up their retirement fund to do so? Or stop taking care of their aging parents?

      If it’s not an obligation for everyone, then to whom does it apply?

      We know nothing of the mother’s financial situation. It’s entirely possible that having an adult child at home not financially contributing to the household, but draining funds, would cause her long term damage.

      1. SomethingOtherThanJudy*

        Parents may plan to be willing and able to support their kids until they’re financially stable, but then things change. I know someone whose mother died while she was in her senior year of college. She was unable to move back home because her father’s income wasn’t enough to support both her and himself.

      2. Poor*

        I’m sure there will be some jerks who would say (completely seriously) that having kids is irresponsible if you’re poor or can’t support them until they turn 49. Just look at how many people deride poor people for “breeding” anytime someone speaks out about poverty.

    15. NotAnotherManager!*

      That’s a pretty privileged sentiment. I think it’s lovely if parents have the resources to do that, but my mother was in no position to support me into my 20s. It is a very long story, but, by confluence of events, my mother was a single parent (my younger sibling was 11 when I started college) whose job was diminished and ultimately outsourced and left her living paycheck-to-paycheck until she was old enough to supplement her (full-time) income with early Social Security. She loves me and is supportive, but that support is not available in the financial variety.

      In my circle of friends, parents were often happy to let them live at home to reduce costs but unable to fully support them and needed them to have some sort of employment to help with household expenses and food. It wasn’t until I moved to DC that I started seeing a significant number of people whose parents were funding their living expenses while they interned or looked for their dream job. The expectations my mom set were very different — I needed to find a job that would allow me to support myself, even if that meant having roommates or budget eating or having a job that wasn’t my life dream. The idea that parents provide continuous financial support to an adult child is only common for those of higher socioeconomic status.

      1. the gold digger*

        It wasn’t until I moved to DC that I started seeing a significant number of people whose parents were funding their living expenses while they interned or looked for their dream job.

        I went to DC after I had a master’s degree and two years in the Peace Corps. I wanted to keep doing international development work. The job postings I saw – in 1995 – for work requiring my qualifications paid only $20,000 a year.

        Before I had my master’s degree, before I had fluency in Spanish, before I had two years of international work experience, I was making $75K. I could not figure out how these organizations could expect to pay so little for people with those qualifications.

        That’s when I learned that there are people whose parents give them money not only for college (I put myself through college) but also after college. That was a new concept for me.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yeah, I moved to DC in the late 90s with a whopping $25K/year job that bought me a room in a group house, metro fare, and a basic grocery budget. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how my roommate with the receptionist job at a think tank, which paid less than mine, was shopping at Whole Foods and getting J. Crew packages every other day. I had no idea parental subsidies were a thing, and I soon learned that, for people that got them, the idea of NOT getting a living allowance was mindblowing.

      2. Tangerina Warbleworth*

        Thank you for saying this. In reading it, all I could think of was the incredible privilege it takes to say something like this. There are a whole lot of students out there with parents who don’t make enough money to support them — hardworking, respectable, good parents who raise good hardworking kids.

      3. Aveline*

        Thank you for saying this. I’ve been wanting to scream about the privilege blindness on this issue, but could not figure out how to say it kindly.

        I’ve done a lot of work with farming, immigrant, and reservation communities. If they can feed their younglings, they are happy. Supporting a child whose old enough to work would not be a concept they would ever have. It’s so impossible for them as to be inconceivable.

      4. Julia*

        I lived at home during college because my parents couldn’t afford to help me pay rent and didn’t want me to work instead of concentrate on studying, which I agreed with. I was lucky there was a good university close by that accepted me.
        This later allowed me to go to grad school overseas.

    16. aebhel*

      I strongly disagree with this. It’s nice to do if you can, but it is certainly not an obligation. Furthermore, ‘financially stable’ is not equivalent to ‘possessing a well-paying dream job in my preferred field’. I was financially stable working as a clerk and living with my spouse and a roommate after college; none of us had that much money, and none of us had jobs that we adored, but we were financially stable. I could have moved back in with my parents if I needed to; neither my husband nor my roommate could have, because their parents would not have been able to support them.

      It sounds like the mom in question doesn’t think OP is being realistic about her expectations and wants her to broaden her search. Hard to tell from the letter whether or not that’s a fair assessment; that’s something OP will have to determine for herself.

    17. LQ*

      Neither my mom nor my dad could have financially supported me until I was financially stable on my own. Heck, they couldn’t do it when I was in high school. That doesn’t make them bad people or bad parents. (Other things make them bad people/bad parents!) They just didn’t have the luxury of being able to do that. I had to work when I was in high school and college to help provide support to my family. When I was littler I spent a lot of time in the garden every summer making sure that there would be veggies we could can and cleaning an butchering animals to freeze for meat so we would have enough to eat for the winter.

      1. Salamander*

        Where I grew up, there was the expectation that one would get a part-time job when one turned sixteen. It wasn’t just my family – it was pretty much everyone in our community. The nagging began about job applications a month before I turned sixteen. You get your driver’s license, you get a job. These were non-negotiable things.

    18. anon8*

      This is common in some cultures. I’m Indian and my parents supported me financially through college. They didn’t push for me to get a part time job in high school so I could focus on school. Anything less than an A was unacceptable. I got a scholarship for college tuition, but they paid for housing. I was lucky to get a full time job a few months after graduating and since then I’ve been on my own. If I needed to move back home while I was looking for a job, that would have been fine with them. I’m sure I would have gotten job advice, but I know they wouldn’t have expected me to pay rent or contribute to expenses.

      1. Julia*

        Yeah, I think if parents expect their kids to fulfill certain career goals, they’d better help out financially or they lose the right to interfere/complain.

    19. Dankar*

      If I were to have moved back home once I finished my graduate degree (something my partner and I both vehemently refused to do despite a great relationship with my mom), there’s no way I could have done that without working a part-time job.

      I would have been expected to contribute to the costs of running the household, buying my own groceries, and to be working at least 20 hours/week while applying for jobs. Living at home and waiting for the “perfect” job to come along would not have been tolerated. Any my mother is financially capable enough that she probably could have supported us!

      1. Dankar*

        I guess that is to say (forgot to type it out) that the OP really shouldn’t consider retail or service industry kinds of jobs as giving up on the career in international affairs. I know a lot of very educated, very driven people who are working at Starbucks (healthcare! vacation days! essentially a living wage!) while they apply for the careers they truly want to pursue.

        Honestly, I think it’s better to go straight into those kinds of jobs than giving yourself a few months to strictly job search. You don’ t need to put the part-time work on your resume, but I find it’s easier to keep in the job-hunting mindset while I’m working rather than loafing around at home.

    20. Ashley*

      I totally disagree. The self sufficiency and learning to make it on your own are invaluable lessons. I think it is a lot of required growth in your early 20s that you miss if your parents are supporting you.

      I get why LW’s mother is worried. We don’t live in a world where you send 5 amazing cover letter/resumes, then interview with 3 and choose of your top 2. Job searching is labor intensive and requires a lot of applications. Mom is looking at the amount of time you took to get your internship and is worried that your going to be chilling in her house indefinitely.

      I recommend you to have a conversation at your current internship about a full-time position. Set up some time with your manager and make sure she knows you like the company and are interested in full-time employment and get a progress report on how you are doing. If they are not going to hire you, work with some people at the company and let them know you are looking for full-time employment. This legwork now is WAY easier then sending application into the employment abyss.

    21. Gadfly*

      There also is the flip side of this that I haven’t seen addressed as much–it also becomes the obligation of the child to support the parents at some point in this sort of system.

      This is obviously the privileged version of things, a lot of less privileged people end up with households of everybody supporting everybody from early teens up or in a more privileged scenario moving in during or after with a divorced parent (usually mom because she’s usually the one who comes out worst post divorce) to keep them from losing the house or sometimes just so they aren’t trying to find random roommates to rent with.

      A lot of baby boomers are in their homes because live at home millennials are helping pay the second mortgage that paid off the credit card or replacing a divorced parent.

      1. Tinker*

        In the past few years, I have had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach concerning that “Treat your kids well, they’ll be choosing your nursing home” is a joke and also absolutely the literal truth — and I’m the only child of older parents who have been overtly disrespectful of my autonomy.

        I’ve considered that should the issue arise, I will look into retaining one of whoever makes guardianship-type decisions professionally and on the basis of boundaried detachment to at minimum consult with and possibly substitute for me. I think that probably nobody actually deserves having a person respond to expressed disagreement and frustration with “Ohhhhh, I’m sorry you’re *having emotional problems*, and I’m conceeeeeeerned, and maybe we should look into this with your doctor” and yet… I daydream. So.

        1. the gold digger*

          Yesyesyesyes. As the wife of someone who was suddenly cast into the role of caring for sick, elderly parents when his drunk father fell on his drunk mother, putting her into the hospital, which was the beginning of four months of horrible drama that ended in the death of both parents, and as the wife of someone whose parents made him executor of their will and trustee of the funds for the four grandchildren, run as fast as you can in the other direction from being in charge of taking care of people.

          Primo did not have time to extricate himself from taking care of his mom and dad – it was too sudden and too intense – and he is only just now figuring out how to resign as trustee. It was discovering that trustees can be held personally responsible for not making the right decisions or filing the taxes or whatever, plus the discovery that filing taxes for a trust can be very complicated, plus the fact that he does not want to be put in the position of telling his nieces and nephew “no” to money because he thinks their mom’s boyfriend, who is a car salesman, might be cheating them on the commission for the car he is selling them, that has finally (I have been encouraging him to resign since we learned he was trustee right after his dad died) pushed him to the edge.

          I think you are very wise to consider finding an expert who can make decisions with some dispassion. It is very hard to be in the middle of all this stuff and even harder when the parental relationship is not so good. BTW, I daydream with you. :)

  10. KHB*

    I have no advice on the job- or money-related things, but on your relationship with your mom, I can offer you a fistbump of solidarity. My mid-20s were a rocky time with my mom as we struggled to relate to each other as two adults instead of as an adult and a child, and as she came to terms with the idea that actually I knew more about my own life than she did. It felt like she was constantly disappointed in me and nitpicking all of my decisions and opinions. But in time, all of that faded, and now we have a great relationship.

    So hopefully, this is temporary, and it gets better.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I still occasionally have to remind my mother that this isn’t a debate, I’m not asking for permission, I’m telling her I’m going to do something when discussing Life Plans like moving or buying a car. It can be rough to make that transition and sometimes it lingers awhile even once you’ve succeeded!

      1. Here we go again*

        I think this is one of those “it gets worse before it gets better” situations but once you start asserting your authority and independence, they get used to it.

        My family was very overprotective while I was growing up… I’m talking not allowed to date, not allowed to have sleepovers, and if I did go out with friends, I had to call when I got there and when I was coming back home. I have parents that think their kid has died anytime they haven’t heard from me for more than a day or two. I’m in my late 20s and talk to them almost everyday.

        In my early 20s, I decided to travel around Europe, alone. That led to some crazy debates, but they got over it. Then I told them I was moving to a new state with no job lined up (but sufficient savings) where I didn’t know a single person and it was again, a major debate, but they also got over it.

        My next trip alone was in Australia and my family was like “meh…”. I just told my family that I am taking a vacation with a guy friend (they are pretty traditional when it comes to relationships and genders) and my mom was just like “oh, that’s nice.” I thought she was going to give me some unsolicited opinion, but surprisingly, she didn’t.

        The first part of my 20s was hard work and I really had to train them, but it is pretty smooth now. They still worry like crazy people, but they have learned to back down and respect my decisions and independence.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        Oh, this. This so much. I love my mother dearly, we talk once a week and have a pretty good relationship…but occasionally, I have to remind her that I am 26, and I will be making the choices that best fit my life and needs, not necessarily the ones of which she is most likely to approve. Sometimes it’s things like deciding to go on anti-anxiety medication, or eat less meat, or date casually (gasp!) I think it’s because I’m the youngest, and the only child who isn’t married, so my life looks very different from my siblings’ and that lack of a clear road map makes her concerned. But still: my life. My bills. My decisions.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        I joke that I get along much better with my mom now that she lives 100 miles away (the grandkids don’t hurt either — gives us something else to talk about besides me!). I had to remind her once, when she lost her shit at me for switching jobs (which ended up being the move that started my actual career and involved a substantial pay increase), that I was an adult and, while I valued her input, she didn’t have veto power anymore.

        1. Manders*

          Same here! My mom and I are way too similar, we need to be in complete control of our own territory. I do wish I could carve a 1,500-mile chunk out of the country so she could be closer, but I’m also glad I had the opportunity to move out right after college.

          I’m in a field that my mom does not understand at all, and it’s clear that she has some anxiety about whether my job is stable. Handling rent and health insurance on my own was part of how I proved to her that she doesn’t need to worry about my job prospects or income.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            I really relate to your second paragraph. I was in the field I switched to for over a decade before my mother had any comprehension of what I did. It as a very niche thing and has had huge growth potential, but if you asked her what I did, she could not have explained it to save her life (and had the same anxiety about its long term prospects). My mantra is, “I am gainfully employed in a legal enterprise and have health insurance, which is all you should worry about.”

    2. Becky*

      I moved 1500 miles away from home to go to college, so my parents were not terribly involved day to day. Once when I was visiting my parents I was borrowing my Dad’s car to visit some friends/go out with my sister. He started lecturing me on the time I needed to be back and such and I was just staring at him. My mom caught my expression and said “Fergus, she’s 21 years old.” He realized he was crossing a line and then just said “I need the car back by 3:30 AM tomorrow” (he had a super early morning job).

    3. WhirlwindMonk*

      I know that feeling very well. For me, the solution was distance. When I was living at home, she could see all of my comings and goings, knew (roughly) what I was doing at all times, and I was constantly there to interrogate about my current job and my job search. It especially didn’t help that she feels that many of my hobbies are a waste of time. I think the only value she ever saw in video games was when she “borrowed” my gameboy to keep her awake during the long, quiet hours of her night shift nursing position and as something to keep me and my brother quiet during long drives. Once I finally got that stable job in my field, I moved the heck out and our relationship improved very quickly. It’s now been about 7 years, I’ve owned my own house for 6, been married for 5, and am expecting my first child in a couple months, but there are times that I think she still hasn’t quite accepted that I’m no longer her little boy. At least now that it isn’t a daily thing, it’s endearing rather that obnoxious.

      1. Tinker*

        I did also find that distance helped, but I wonder if in my case there was also a bit of a downside to it in some regards. I’m in my mid-30s, and have been living mostly away from my parents since I was 18. This has meant, particularly as I’ve become more financially and logistically independent, that I could develop in ways that would have been much more difficult with my parents aware of my life at a very high resolution.

        However, that also means that a lot of the ways I’ve grown and changed since I was 18 has — at least in my case — not been a visceral reality for my parents. The data was available to them that indicates I’m now a professional who owns a house and has a vibrant community of friends, but the reality of these things were not in front of their face on a day-to-day basis and to a degree they seemed to see this as more of a piece with academic awards rather than as material changes in how my life was structured. That I’m not married and don’t have children also contributes.

        So I’d go to visit my parents, and feel subtly constrained not to overtly contradict the image of me-at-18 so as not to make my parents feel bad. This started to become untenable, and when I raised the subject — pointing out, say, that when I’m home I set my own schedule with input of information from other concerned parties and that it’s feeling increasingly weird to me to be told instead of invited — my folks laughed at me. Not laughing at that I perceived myself as being treated as a child — laughing at me that I thought I should be treated as an adult. They compared me to their family cat. It… didn’t do great things for the relationship.

        (“If it’s this controversial for me to say that I’m not into going out for breakfast at that hour of the morning, how much poo shall be flipped if I bring home a lady-type pantsfriend? And should I even pretend that there would be a good outcome to making it clear that such a relationship would be approximately heterosexual?” is a line of thought that has happened.)

        To a degree that’s kind of their problem and their choice, but there’s a part of me that wonders if I’d been a bit more proactive in my mid-to-late 20s I would have managed to deconstruct rather than construct those habits during that time and we would have had a better basis for a tenable relationship today.

    4. Tinker*

      “actually I knew more about my own life than she did” THIS THING. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I had to come to terms with it.

      I think sometimes a component of these career arguments specifically is both parties failing to appreciate that the younger party actually IS starting to accumulate specialized knowledge about their field and about what sets them up personally for success. I had a somewhat-extended job search after grad school — in retrospect, a lot of this was because I spent time visiting my parents and helping them out with some house projects — and in discussions about the subject at the time and later I caught a lot of the “dream job” thing for reasons that make sense but are not actually valid.

      With regard to the matter of “in your field”, say, I was looking for a job in software and all my education and experience was in EE/CS. So I’d have in mind that I could look for, say, developing web applications as a developer or tester, analyst or data science sort of things, industrial automation programming, etc etc, and this is a fairly broad spread of potential directions that also happens to encompass most of what I’m actually qualified to do.

      But then I’d get from folks — my folks and people roughly of their generation, in general — who seemingly would not understand that “I want to work in code, and probably the sort that deals more in intellectual than procedural complexity” is a HUUUUUUGE category and that things that they thought were closely related to my field were actually not. And they did not know what they did not know. So they’d say “what about this why don’t you do this, it’s an engineering job and you’re an engineer”, and I’d say “however, they’re looking for a licensed PE to do concrete design for municipal wastewater systems or some such, I can’t possibly construct a case for them to hire me for this and it’d be unethical for me to take the job if I did, so I’m not applying” and what they heard was apparently “however, (trombone Peanuts parent noises), I’m so terribly picky don’t want to give them a chaaaaaaaance* and holding out for the perfect job, so I’m not applying.”

      Unfortunately, I haven’t so far gotten past the disappointment and nitpicking phase — after I set limits regarding my availability by phone my parents stopped talking to me, so we never did get to the next phases of the plan. Which is a solution of a sort, I guess.

      * The same line was deployed similarly with regards to my romantical life, specifically the androphilic wing thereof. I was thrilled, of course.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        This. People are constantly telling me to apply for jobs I am not even remotely qualified for and it drives me insane. Especially when they won’t believe me when I explain this.

      2. VintageLydia*

        My MIL always sends my partner jobs for anything and everything that might be vaguely related to IT, and they usually pay less than half of what he’s making now and he’s not even qualified to begin with (he doesn’t code.) I get she rather us move down there, and it come from a good place. But man.

        1. Tinker*

          Yeah, that was also a factor. My folks have professed the opinion/directive that I should be location-independent, but in practice this seems to mean “location-independent except hopefully you’ll end up either where we live or where your extended family lives” and a lot of the suggestions (including the water district one) were aimed at this point.

          My priority scheme was something more along the lines of “staying in my city unless things become completely desperate, in which case entertain the notion of hopefully-temporary relocation to other mixed-to-liberal major cities in the western US, if this fails possibly more-conservative and smaller cities WITHOUT nearby relatives, if this fails then cities with nearby relatives” — I didn’t overtly state this because it would probably be unkind, but I somewhat suspect the notion was nonetheless detected and became a thing to covertly campaign against.

    5. Gazebo Slayer*

      This. My overprotective parents and I had regular screaming fights when I was in my early 20s. (My mom wanted me to rent a geographically unworkable apartment because she liked the landlady, and tried to insist on going into a job interview with me. Among many other conflicts.) It got much better, but they still haven’t entirely adjusted to not knowing more about my life than I do (great insight) and I’m 35. We are close and I love them dearly, though.

  11. Scarily similar situation*

    As someone who literally just went through this (finished undergrad last May, didn’t get my full time job in my field until November, mom was pushing me to get ANY job, even the locations are the same) I really feel for the OP. I was similarly put off about the idea of getting a part time job because it felt like I was quitting on my dream of working in my field and that I’d be stuck in retail forever. I think the most important thing here for OP to remember is that it’s not at all about your mother’s belief in your ability to get a job in your field, it’s 100% about her desire for you to be able to support yourself, which is fair (even though it doesn’t feel like it). So for my two cents- I say just get whatever job you have to get to pay the bills, keep searching for your dream job and don’t give up!

    Also- I got hired at a retail store and then the day before I was supposed to go in to do paperwork, got my job offer for my current job- so you never know what will happen!

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      I understand your situation, and can take it a little further actually. I’d done shadowing and coursework that was applicable to my field, but never worked for real in it before I graduated from college. When it came time to apply for jobs, I was too late in the game (strike one), didn’t know what to look for in job ads and do a targeted search (strike two), and the city I was trying to stay in was one where jobs were quite limited outside of physical labor/retail/entry-level non-related sales stuff (strike three). I graduated in 2013, and I now work outside of D.C.

      I worked in retail for a year- it sucked, but I did learn a lot there. I’ll never let anyone tell me that retail doesn’t have transferable skills to other fields and administrative work before I tell them that’s where I grew a thick skin, learned to deal with difficult people when I didn’t have a choice to walk away, and picked up working with lots of different processes that sort of occur in tandem with one another.

      After retail, I spent almost 3 years doing something closer related to my field, and in January got an administrative job where about 40% of my tasks directly pertain to what I’d like to do in the future. My job search to get this current job was 5 months long once I really decided I had to move on, and I discovered that internship application processes are probably further in advance than the time periods I had in mind. The path isn’t linear and doesn’t have to be; I know I’m happier now than some people who went straight into fields they thought they loved right after college because I had to work really long and hard to get here.

  12. Artem*

    OP, I started applying for jobs regularly the January of my last year of school (May graduation date, two years ago) while in an internship and a full time job while being a full time student and it still took until November of that same year to get a job offer. Part of that was inexperience (I wish I had done somethings in my job search differently) but long job searches for new graduates are so so normal. While I was job searching after graduation I also worked two jobs to keep up an income. That worked for me but almost no one else I knew did that exact same set up; some people had jobs by graduation, some took until summer, some took longer than I did, some worked retail or waitress while looking, some didn’t. Do you have an okay relationship with your mom? Can you explain to her you appreciate her concern but it is stressing you out even more than the situation is naturally and that you’ll start looking for retail/fast food jobs closer to the end of your internship? I don’t know your towns job market but I was able to get a full time waitress job within a week of graduation and pick up a second part time retail job the next month. Waiting jobs in particular can be easy to pick up as you need really absolutely no experience just a friendly attitude. Jobs where you work a register a little more picky about getting people with previous register work (Starbucks and the like I’ve found is picky about previous register experience but grocery stores less so) but the great thing about having register experience is that opens you up to things like part time bank jobs. Good luck and try not to stress too much!

  13. Bwmn*

    In the DC area, there are a number of temp agencies that provide support to nonprofits. My organization uses them a lot for administrative/receptionist type posts and it may very well provide an easier entry point to having that initial resume experience in the international affairs/nonprofit world. Additionally, it might be worth exploring an opportunity like the Peace Corps – the application process can take 12-24 months, but it can provide a light at the end of the tunnel if initial professional opportunities aren’t really giving you access to the sector you want.

    While there will be plenty of commenters who will say that if your parents are supporting you financially, they have the opportunity to dictate aspects of your life/job search – I’m going to kinda go the other direction….. Tune her out as much as possible. Doing something like a Peace Corps application/taking the Foreign Service exam as back up plans may serve to provide her comfort that you are exploring multiple avenues, but if you are really committed to working in the international sector – trying to find ways to get a foothold are really important and can take time. Putting time/effort into getting a fast food job will also take away time that you have to search/apply for jobs as well – and it really will do nothing to support your resume in international affairs.

    If you don’t presently work in the DC area and are in another mid-major city – I’d look for temp agencies that staff for organizations like hospitals that at least function as a large nonprofit institutions and would tie you to a sector like healthcare that does have an international application.

    1. Artem*

      Yes! When I was job searching right after college a few years ago I looked at programs to teach English outside the states programs, PeaceCorp, City Year (I think the program was called City Year at least), even programs that set you up as a nanny for families in other countries and while I didn’t go through with any of that doing the research, knowing what programs was qualified for and what I would have to do to get into those programs was extremely reassuring and stress reliving plan B.

    2. AMPG*

      Agree with the above – I worked in an international affairs-related job for almost 15 years, and the big thing I would advise is to get some international experience if you don’t have any. You may have done some field work as part of your master’s, but if you can augment that, it will really give you a leg up. Peace Corps or Mercy Corps are good for this, or an international internship (although that might be unpaid, which doesn’t solve things financially for you). Otherwise it’s definitely a slog to work up from the bottom – it can be done, but you have to just grind it out and bide your time. In that case, a smaller organization might be a better bet, because you can take on more responsibility faster.

      1. Bwmn*

        Agree with all of this. Programs to teach English abroad, International volunteer corps, etc – a number of these come with stipends so they’re not as “unpaid” as these unpaid internships would be. If the OP is religious, a number of faith groups have their own versions of these international humanitarian missions, and if you choose conscientiously a lot of them are fairly respected by the larger international humanitarian sector as not being proselytizing roles. Also, when you are actually based overseas, it can be a lot easier to be hired by the heavy hitting multilaterals/INGO’s. Overseas, you’ll be better positioned to know about consultancy positions that do have in mind someone with less experiences but where they’re also not looking to flying someone over from the US. Also, international expat communities can be far smaller so it can also be easier to rub shoulders and build networks.

        As someone who did not grow up in an international city, cracking into the field was tough and required more financial risk. I had to determine how I was going to get myself “international” without the safety net of living at home and temping for the right kind of organizations. But there are definitely ways to do it, and if it’s the OP’s dream – I say focus on lots of those options.

    3. RR*

      Hiring Manager in International Development here: this is some good advice. I would strongly recommend exploring options like the Peace Corps. If that is not feasible for you, second the recommendation to look at temp work in/near the non-profit field. I would also suggest considering moving to DC. Many folks in your position move here with no job lined up, and get by on temp work, part time restaurant/bar tending, or both. I do also want to point out, as others have, that your remark re “too fast paced,” really raised some concern. This is pretty much the default setting in most international affairs work. You may need to do some hard self reflection to consider if this field really is for you. It can be difficult to separate one’s interest in, even love for the subject matter in an academic program, and the working reality.

    4. Jo*

      Yes to all of this. Also, you say have a certain regional specialisation — if so, try looking at jobs and/or internships there. You’d be surprised how many internships there are in NGO field offices.

      I first arrived in my current location (which is actually an active conflict zone) on a paid internship and was able to network into successive positions after that. Often just getting there is half the battle, and once you are actually on the ground it’s much easier to find jobs.

      (One caveat: many internships are NOT paid and even the paid ones usually pay very little. In my case it was certainly doable because housing and transportation was provided, but that will not be the case in many locations.)

  14. RVA Cat*

    One thing to consider is something that may be tangentially related to your field. Have you considered something like banking? Most banks have a division that works with non-profits and foundations, plus they encourage volunteering (part of which is to comply with the Community Reinvestment Act).
    Also, do you have language skills from your studies? Look for employers who need someone to translate for people from that region.

  15. fposte*

    The other thing to consider is that there’s nothing magic about six months–it’s not like if you haven’t found a job by then one will be automatically offered to you, and that would be a lot more stressful than things are now. The advantage to agreeing on a timeline with your mother now is that it’s merely a plan you’re executing, not something that happened because you fought about it under major stress half a year from now.

  16. Slow Gin Lizz*

    I second AAM’s suggestion that you stop asking your mom to look at your cover letters. At this point, don’t you know how to write a cover letter? And if you want someone else to look them over for typos, can you find a friend who can help you instead?

    Also, keep looking for jobs in your field. If you need to get a retail job, those can generally be gotten pretty quickly, IME. Don’t settle just yet. But do realize if you don’t find anything by the time your internship ends, then you may just need to find something temporary at that point. (I also second the above comments to look at temp agencies rather than retail or fast food.)

    1. Turanga Leela*

      Agreed about the cover letters. If you want to reduce your mom’s anxiety, disentangle her from your job search. Tell her if you have an interview, but otherwise don’t involve her. Get feedback on your letters from colleagues or friends. (Doesn’t everyone have that one friend who will proofread your stuff? In my circle, it’s me.)

  17. Judy*

    If your mom is supporting you, you need to find a job, any job that you can support yourself with.

    If you are already supporting yourself, but you live with your mom, you need to move out.

  18. Bow Ties Are Cool*

    If you need to work between this internship and the next job in your field, so that you can pay the bills, sign up with a clerical temp agency. It will pay more than fast food, and you might find you even get some resume-builders out of the experience. It also looks better in interviews if you can honestly say you are currently employed in a professional environment.

    1. Salamander*

      Yes. This is what I did when I graduated from grad school. They found me a temp job immediately in banking as an analyst, which was a great experience. I was ultimately offered a permanent job, but by that time I’d found a job in my field.

      That job was a resume-builder, even though it wasn’t in my field. I learned a lot about business communications, which served me well. And I was more employable, I think, because I was already employed in a professional context.

      Most importantly, it paid my bills. I didn’t have a parental situation I could move back into. Sometimes, you do what you have to do to be independent. A job in my field was the long game; paying rent and getting groceries was the short game. Both are important and not mutually-exclusive.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        A job in my field was the long game; paying rent and getting groceries was the short game. Both are important and not mutually-exclusive.

        yes yes YES

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      It also can give you an entry point to a company or contacts that you might not otherwise have.

      The longer that you’re unemployed, the harder it is to get a job. Don’t get such tunnel vision on finding the perfect job that you make things worse for yourself.

    3. Anxa*

      So, I always see suggestions to join a temp agency, but how do you get enough experience for temp work if you’re using temp work to get experience?

      I’ve never had a call back for temp work and often see work experience requirements, even if its just for a year’s.

  19. Antilles*

    She has suggested applying to fast food places and retail just to have a job.
    This is somewhat iffy advice. If you need the money, then yes, you should absolutely do it. But if you are in a position where you *don’t* need the couple hundred bucks a week, then I’d think long and hard before applying to a minimum-wage shift work position just to have a job. Several things to think about:
    1.) This sort of lowers the urgency on your job search since you don’t have the firm deadline of “I need a new job by X”.
    2.) The flexibility at these sorts of hourly work can vary wildly and the new guy rarely gets set hours. So until you get some trust from the management and established as part of a set shift, it can be really hard to plan for interviews, phone calls, etc.
    3.) Opportunity cost – the 20 hours per week at your retail job (plus associated travel time) may be better spent networking, being involved in professional organizations, etc.
    That said, the money (obviously) and family harmony might be good reasons to think about it. But just make sure you’re aware of the potential downsides going in and have some plans on how to counteract them.

    1. Cookie*

      I agree completely with what you’ve said. There may be volunteer opportunities or continuing education events where you can network with people in your field, and there’s the real risk of losing out if you take a fast food job – particularly as evenings and weekends could be affected and those are prime times to network.

      But more realistically, many low-skill jobs aren’t going to want someone like OP. Maybe if OP were fresh out of college, but if you have a graduate degree and a background of prestigious internships (and no background in food service) they’re going to pass on someone who is overqualified and doesn’t truly want to work there/who will be disengaged (which is fair).

      1. SomethingOtherThanJudy*

        Fast food places, maybe. But when I worked at Barnes and Noble, pretty much everyone had a college degree, some had advanced degrees, and at least half the people working there had had jobs that were not of the retail/food service persuasion (including me – a degree and about five years experience in my field). I know people who worked for the Apple Store (and not as Geniuses) who had similar circumstances. “Upscale” retail would be the way to go, if OP wanted to pursue retail.

        1. Emi.*

          My husband worked at the university bookstore right out of college, and most of his coworkers had arts degrees and were now making careers in retail. (It was very demoralizing–take that into account if you dive into retail jobs, OP!)

  20. Anonymous Poster*

    A bit off topic but another career path open to you would be the Foreign Service. Its application process is very long, and would be a back-burner sort of application, but it sounds like the sort of thing you might be interested in pursuing given your background. You may be also to steer your career path there toward what you studied a bit more.

    In the meantime, your parent giving you financial support is in the right in asking for some income and setting some conditions. Stinks, but it’s true.

    You’ve also already gotten the general advice you can get from your mom on your cover letter the previous times she’s seen it. Now you’ve got to apply that advice, along with other advice (may I suggest Alison’s, because it served me very well) on your application materials.

    You haven’t mentioned where you’re living now but that may play a role in the no-nibbles, but these things take awhile.

    Have you talked with anyone at your internship about possibilities or connections they may have? I’m guessing they may have some industry connections or ideas that you may not have, and might be able to give you a leg up. If your work so far has been good, I’m assuming they’d be more than happy to help you out.

    Good luck in your job search!

  21. animaniactoo*

    OP, I have a question – you say that you’re looking for jobs for 4 to 5 days a week. My question is how much *time* are you spending on those days?

    If you’re spending a half to an hour browsing a day, coming up with one or two opportunities per week and putting in time to carefully composing your materials to apply for just those one or two opportunities… that’s not enough time. Especially not if you need to find something within 3 months.

    Ideally you’d find 1 or 2 positions a day, but a minimum of 3 a week has to be your goal.

    Also, if you really need to have A job, you should absolutely be looking to expand outside your field currently – not far outside your field, but outside of a narrow focus and into areas where some of your skills will transfer and being able to strengthen those will help you in future when you work back towards your core area.

    FWIW – it took my son almost 2 months to even find a retail job, part time. I don’t know what the job situation looks like in your city, but even retail and fast food jobs might not be as easy to pick up in a last-gasp need-a-job-any-job situation and you should factor that into your approach as well.

    1. The OG Anonsie*

      I don’t know. Even when I was shotgunning out job applications as a wee lass, I don’t think I spent more than an hour on any given day looking for places to apply. The searching is not the most time consuming part of modern job hunting.

    2. Anxa*

      On the retail job front,

      I think the OP is in a tough spot, because it can take a long time to actually get an interview or call-back for these jobs, but it’s ALSO really common to be hired on the spot.

  22. thebluecastle*

    I think your mom might have a point. I am very 100% sympathetic to you not wanting to take a job outside your field but at the end of the day you need to be able to afford your expenses. You don’t necessarily have to work food service or retail. I highly recommend looking into temp jobs, even if its just data entry or very entry level you’re getting office experience and usually making much more per hour than retail or fast food might offer.

    You can still keep applying for jobs in your field while working as a temp worker. You may even find yourself temping somewhere where you end up gaining some relevant skills that an organization in your field might be looking for. After I finish my Masters degree I want to work with nonprofits, as a temp I was able to work with a nonprofit and gain some experience I might otherwise not have had.

    You can also work in a temp position and look for volunteer opportunities in your field (in addition to job hunting) that you can do in the evening or weekends to help you stay current in your field and network (or if you only have a part time temp job you can volunteer during the week). If you’re worried about how taking a job outside of your field will look in a prospective interview, don’t. Your interviewers will hopefully understand that you need to eat and pay bills and that’s definitely something you can explain (but in a more graceful interview-y way than that lol).

    OP, I know this isn’t “the dream” so to speak, and it can be very frustrating to get a job outside your field (trust me I know, that’s what I’m currently doing), but at the end of the day practicality wins out. If you need to pay your expenses (and your mom who you may be relying on for expenses is telling you to) you need to get a job. Getting a job outside your field isn’t giving up on your long term goals, its just finding a way to survive in the meantime while you work towards them. Good luck.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      Re how a job outside your field will look to interviewers:

      In addition to my full-time job, I teach group exercise, so I’ve had that side gig for years and over many jobs. Once an instructor friend of mine and I were struggling with full-time job searches, and we commiserated a lot. We both had been looking long enough that people were asking what we were doing with our time. When Friend mentioned, among other things, teaching aerobics, an interviewer asked what that had to do with her field. Friend said to me, “I wanted to snap, ‘Well, you know how you called my cell phone to arrange this interview for this job, which I need because I’m unemployed? And remember how I was able to answer the phone, because my phone was TURNED ON????? THAT’S what teaching aerobics has to do with my field.'”

      I wouldn’t have blamed her if she HAD said it.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        This. Interviewers who object to jobs not in your field need to shut up and realize how lucky they are that they’ve had a perfect career trajectory.

  23. A. Non*

    OP, I’m surprised it hasn’t been recommended yet, but it sounds like you could benefit from the boundary advice at Captain Awkward. Both blogs crossover kind of the way your mom (and many moms, mine included!) is crossing into your professional life.

    Everything commenters have said seems pretty good, but I’d also recommend this: can you find a mentor where you’re interning? Someone who’s willing to introduce you and/or be your recommendation? Do you have a mentor? It might be worth it to ‘groom’ someone there for the job, because you’ll need a reference within your field if you DO choose to take a part time retail job.

    (Anecdotally: if I hadn’t had my customer service job before I got my In-Field career, I would never have gotten the part time job that led to my full-time career in my field. Customer service polished the hell out of my rough edges, and made it so I could fake extrovert with the best of them. Look for something that has skills that will compliment what you want to do, be pleasant and work-friendly, and that can get you very, very far.)

    1. Allie*

      I agree, a lot of this is boundaries. I had some trouble finding a permanent job out of law school (I clerked but was worried about my year deadline). My parents were not helpful at all in that regard, they more rehashed my law school decision than anything else and had some really out of date advice. I ended up just fine but limiting contact during that time ended up helping. Hard if LW lives with her mom but some boundaries are a good idea.

    2. fposte*

      I think that’s a really good point about the things you can learn from jobs out of your field. The OP doesn’t mention if she had job experience outside of college/grad school work and internships, and it’s a big capability boost to get some.

  24. Collarbone High*

    Two thoughts that might help keep the “get a fast food/retail job” suggestions at bay, while you look for work (I agree you probably need to look outside your field, though, and that it’s not unreasonable that your mom wants you to have some form of income):

    1) As online shopping drives bricks-and-mortar stores out of business, retail jobs are not as plentiful and easy to get as they used to be. 60,000 retail workers have been laid off since January. LW would be competing against those workers, who have recent retail experience, for a dwindling number of jobs.

    2) Scheduling in both industries is nothing like what it was when LW’s mom was doing those kinds of jobs. It used to be that you told your manager when you could work, and they only scheduled you in those time slots. Now, it’s done by algorithm, often at a corporate office. It’s also really common to have on-call shifts where you have to call in an hour before the scheduled start time to see if they need you. I looked into getting a retail job during a brief bout of unemployment a couple of years ago and quickly realized the new realities of scheduling would make job-hunting very difficult.

    1. Risha*

      Yes! Getting a temporary job sounds easy, but it really, really isn’t right now. I’m finally fully employed again as of this past January, but spent a couple of years doing the occasional short term contract job (software developer) and living off of unemployment when I could, and my parents or my brother when I ran out. I would have killed for a restaurant or retail or fast food job or something to bridge those gaps, but those positions are in short supply, and all of them are becoming almost full time (almost = no benefits) positions where they hire someone experienced that they think will stay for a long period of time. I couldn’t even get a call back for seasonal work at Target or Walmart.

    2. De Minimis*

      Fast food also has a lot of people who work in it long term–I don’t think it’s a reasonable assumption anymore that someone can always get a job in fast food. Managers know someone like the OP will quit as soon as they find a job somewhere else.

  25. L.*

    No advice but I feel the OP. I graduated college in December 2009, right as the job market went to the dogs and I too had to move back home and wait tables for about a year. My parents were both longtime federal employees since the early 1980s and had no idea what I was dealing with, but plenty of unsolicited and unhelpful “advice.” It was a very difficult time. My mother became fixated on the idea that if I got my “foot in the door” in the federal government, at ANY job, I could just transfer to whatever agency I wanted and work my way up the pay scale for the rest of my career as she had. So, she started pushing me to go through the extremely long and detailed USAJobs application process for jobs I had zero interest in and was in no way qualified for (Fish and Wildlife Service? National Endowment for the Arts? the VA? I applied for ’em all). Even after I finally got a “real” job and embarked on a career she still pushed me in this direction for years. I went along with it for a while (what else was I going to do, I was chronically unemployed) but the time investment was so high and I got NO positive responses. Eventually I just started lying to her, sorry to say: “Hm, I applied, but I never heard back. Oh well!” I’m not saying lie to your parents as a first option, but I chose that rather than a meltdown argument with my parents while I was still living in their house.

  26. MarketingGirl*

    OP, I’ve been there! Following the end of my internship, I got a part time job to cover basic expenses but it still allowed me the time I needed to go on interviews. I only expected to be at that job for a few months but it turned out I was there well over a year despite applying to hundreds of positions in the meantime. This might be something to consider. Plus it was nice to have something to do besides applying, applying, and applying some more.

    The stress of a job search is rough, especially with others trying to influence your path. The stress of others only increases your own stress. Keep an open mind, apply to anything and everything that could be relevant to get your foot in the door, and keep on grinding! It’s the only way you’re going to find a position. I know 6 months seems like a lifetime but in reality, it can take a year or more to get an entry level position in an especially competitive field.

  27. all aboard the anon train*

    What worries me is that OP says the job is too fast-paced for her. I don’t know much about the field, but this could be a problem if international relations is known for being fast-paced. Especially for someone who is entry level, you might have a hard time finding a job that suits your needs.

    Also, you mention looking for jobs in HCOL areas. Again, this is field specific, but a lot of entry level jobs won’t pay to relocate you and it’s really, really hard to even get an interview if you live out of state. So keep that in mind as well.

    As far as the six months, this job market is tough. I was in a competitive industry (publishing) and it took me almost two years to get my first entry level job. I had to take an admin assistant job in an unrelated industry just to be able to support myself. My parents weren’t going to support me while I was looking for a job in my industry, so it got to the point where I had to take anything. While your mum’s advice of retail or fast food is good, I would also look for entry level office jobs, as well.

    You don’t want to bank of a six month window and then have nothing lined up and be out of a job for a year or longer. Also, even those retail and fast food jobs are scarce. A friend was laid off awhile ago and has been struggling even to get a retail position.

    1. AMPG*

      The OP is in social services now, not international affairs, so it’s understandable that she might want something a little more academic. That said, I suspect the IA field is a bit in flux right now, considering the current administration’s general disdain for traditional diplomacy (not trying to be overly political, but I think this is accurate based on high-level statements and actions), and so the job market is going to be even tighter than usual.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I think that’s actually an important point to make and it’s one I hadn’t thought of. The US standing internationally right now is tenuous and that is very likely to make a job in IA more difficult to obtain.

  28. Roker Moose*

    The field of study excepting, this letter sounds a lot like me.

    After a BA, MA, and PhD, I moved back home aged 30. I’m currently working an office job in a non-related field. I sympathise with the LW because it can be an extremely frustrating situation– feeling like a failure, feeling like a teenager again. I’m still applying for jobs in my field and trying not give up hope.

    If you can’t find work in your field, then definitely start looking outside it in areas with transferable skills– admin, grant writing, etc. And maybe try volunteering for agencies which align with your field– international aid and the like. I’d encourage you not to take a position which will make you completely miserable, but corporate and office gigs (even temp ones) are attractive to employers. Good luck in your job search!

  29. imakethings*

    OP I feel your pain! I moved to a new state for my boyfriend’s job and couldn’t find work in my field. I was receiving support from both my mother and my boyfriend while I tried to find work. About 2 months in I picked up a part time serving gig just to relieve the support of my bf while still relying on my mom’s support. I got desperate enough that I accepted a job in a very unrelated field as a receptionist because I couldn’t afford to job hunt anymore. I’ve spent the last 5 months paying off bills and getting financially stable and am now job hunting again. The difference this time is I have a salary and can afford to be choosey. While I hate my job, it’s paying the bills and buying me time, which is what I really need. Everyone here suggests retail or fast food, but I’d say apply to something a little less soul sucking (waitressing can be a blast in the right spot, or admin work in a slow office with free time that allows for perusing job boards) can be a great option too. I understand parental pressures and sometimes you just need to give for the paycheck and the time. Plus, working a crap job is VERY motivating regarding job hunts.

    1. imakethings*

      Also, buying time allows you to network and potentially save some money for a move to one of these hubs. I’ve found that putting some actual time in my new state has really made my resume more attractive to employers. They saw all my job experience out of state, and despite explicitly stating that I currently lived in New State in my CL, would assume they had to pay relocation expenses and passed over me.

  30. Purple Jello*

    Here’s my (unasked for) advice as a mom with 3 children in their 20’s, and a recent job searcher myself (twice in 10 years), plus some-time interviewer.

    1. Is your mom supporting you in any way? Then she validly has something to say about your work situation. Do you have a plan to get off her support? (housing, health care, cell phone, laundry, internet, food?) Talk it over with her. Don’t assume she knows what you’re thinking. What if things don’t happen the way you plan? Do you have a backup?
    2. You may need to work at a full-time job AND a part time job. I did this the first 8 years I was out of school. My full time job was peripherally related to my degree; the part time job was in retail. Since one was at a clothing store, I got clothing at a discount for my full time job there. When I worked at a restaurant, I got discounted or free meals.
    3. Do the people you intern with know you are searching for a full time job? They many not know when your internship is over, or that you’ll need a job. Talk to them! Lots of people know about openings that aren’t posted anywhere.
    4. Related to #3, if you don’t have a LinkedIn account, set one up. Ask someone you work with to look it over. (do you have a mentor there?) Then link with anyone at work you can.
    5. Cover letters & resume: Is there a good HR rep at your internship? See if they’ll take a quick overview of your resume and a sample cover letter. Even though you have to personalize your cover letters for each job, it could help to get a “professional” opinion on it. Also, if Mom is just proofing, see if you can trade proofing skills with a friend or coworker.

  31. Rosamond*

    Hey OP. I started job hunting about 4 months before I finished my master’s degree, and I was still unemployed for 6 months afterward. A lot of the problem for me was that I was only considering jobs in major cultural centers – my list of locations looked a lot like yours – and there were already tons of new graduates in those cities competing for the same jobs. But the point is, after I finished my internship and graduated, I worked in high-end retail for a few months to pay the bills. It paid OK, my parents stopped worrying about me, and it was even kind of interesting. Out of about 20 applications, I ended up getting three interviews followed by two job offers to choose from – it just took a while.

    1. AMPG*

      The problem is that most IA jobs really are in those major cultural centers. I moved out of DC a couple of years ago and ended up switching fields (I was in an IA-related job) because there just aren’t those jobs around here.

      1. Rosamond*

        Oh, I completely understand. My field is very similar. I’m in a second-tier West Coast city now, and there are about 2-4 full-time job openings per year here in my field.

  32. I am not Kimmy Gibler*

    When I graduated from college I lived at home for about 18 months. During that time, I lived rent free and was still on my parents’ insurance. I had a temp job that was basically a full time job, in that I worked there almost every day, but it wasn’t a guaranteed paycheck and I didn’t get insurance. Although my parents didn’t ask to see my cover letters and they recognized I was looking for work, they did put me on a deadline where I would have to start paying rent and contribute to the cost of the health insurance. At the time, I thought it was a completely logical situation. I can’t say whether that deadline gave me the push I needed to land the job I ended up with because I was consistently looking. But it did force me to have an open mind and consider avenues I might have dismissed previously. In the end, I found a job in the field I was considering – but my advice to the OP is to open up their search. They’re new to the workforce and I think it’s beneficial not to limit oneself to a particular field. The truth is that other jobs may not be in your interested industry, but could help develop skillsets that would be useful down the road.

    1. Nonprofit Chicago*

      OP – First, congrats on wrapping up your degree and scoring this internship!

      I have a masters in IA and have now worked in the field for 12 years. I started in Washington and then reverted to Chicago where I’ve been very fortunate to continue working in the field. A few thoughts which I hope are not duplicative to the comments:
      –get a person at your current job or someone you respect who is working in the field to look at your resume. I do this for people who ask me for career advice and 9 times out of 10, there are a lot of improvements that can be made. This is not a reflection of the candidate, but on the quality of university career centers. This person should not be your mom, but someone at least in midde-management in the field.
      –maximize networking by meeting with everyone you can at your current internship and ask for career advice and for connections. Send them your resume in advance of the meeting and ask them about their path and make it very clear you are job hunting. If you’re doing a good job, and it sounds like you are with the raise, they can be helpful to you. That way if they know of any jobs, they can make you aware and even introduce you, and when they hear about jobs in the future, they think of you.
      –ask your professors from your masters program to connect you to graduates that are currently in awesome jobs in the field for informational interviews and networking. I find that profs and department chairs are better at this than career centers. Send them your resume in advance and have calls asking them about their paths, for their advice, and then for ideas on scoring a job. Keep up these contacts.
      –as some other commentators wisely said, zero in on honing a few transferable skill sets that can get you into organizations that are tangentially related to what you want to be doing. This could be where you are now or in a bigger market. I recommend not focusing on government or UN in the near-term (it takes forever to get in, even when you know someone). This could be event planning, project management/coordination, grant writing and EVEN executive assistant work or database management. My most recent EA was so good at her role and made herself indispensable to the organization with in 6 months. She is now on our field team doing international development work. I started out as an event coordinator, moved into project management, learned to fundraise, and now am in senior nonprofit management.
      –If you want to be doing hard-core international affairs work, I agree with all the recommendations to 1) go to peace corps, and 2) move without a job to DC and work temp, wait tables, or bar tend while job hunting using all of the above approaches. It is hard to get in, but nearly impossible if you aren’t in the market. Doing temp or night jobs means that you can do unpaid internships during the day to get your foot in the door. Another approach is to call your representative/senator and ask if they need staff – you’ll start out on phones, and eventually move into a leg coordinator role and the pay is not so hot, but at least you get to Washington and can start meeting people there. The pace on the Hill is a bit harried, but should be manageable. This approach will take grit and a lot of hard work.
      –As you do all of this – I would do something in the interim until you get a job in or close to your field, even if it is really far aflung. There are a lot of hiring managers that respect all work experience, whatever it may be (I’m one of them). Depending on the job – you can also get health benefits and maybe even retirement. A job pays the bills, and gives you more resources to support getting the job you want.

  33. Katie the Fed*

    OP –

    I don’t want to add to your stress, and I agree with Alison’s advice, but I do want to inject a dose of reality here because I live in DC and work in this field.

    This is a TOUGH field to break into. The reality is that there are far, far more highly educated people with degrees in international affairs who want to work in non-profit, than there are positions available. You can’t swing a dead cat in this area without hitting someone who has a similar master’s degree, and finding a position that’s going to pay well enough to live, especially one that makes you feel like you’re making the world a better place, is tough. REALLY tough.

    So while I don’t think you need to immediately jump to any retail job that pays, I would urge you to cast a very wide net in terms of what you take for a first job. Consider organizations and employers who might not be quite as idealistic as you’d like, but that you can at least get some more experience in the field.

    Good luck. I hope your mom gets off your back. My mom thought I could use my language skills to do international banking in Chicago (??) which made absolutely no sense, but it is what it is.

    1. AMPG*

      I’ve posted on a couple of of other threads as well, but I wanted to echo this. I worked in an IA-related job in DC for almost 15 years, and it’s a competitive field. Also, there are probably cuts to federal funding on the horizon, which are going to affect the bottom line of a lot of NGOs in the field. BUT there are also lots of NGOs out there that do similar work that you might enjoy. My master’s was actually in International Development, and I moved sort of sideways after graduating into more of an International Relations/International Communication gig, and I found I loved it.

    2. Aid Laidy*

      I also work in this field, and also have parents who did not/do not understand my work at all. You should hear the suggestions I’ve gotten. Five years after grad school and my father still asks me if I’d consider getting an MBA.

      That said, a few key tips in addition to what everyone has said here (apologies if there’s repetition):

      – You need to find a way to live in a city where these jobs are on offer. I cannot overstate this enough. It is an order of magnitude easier to get internships and jobs once you’re in a place and can meet people organically. It sucks, because these places are expensive, but it will make your life much easier.

      – UNLESS you can, as the earlier posts stated, do something that will provide you with experience first – like the Peace Corps or the Foreign Service. Having already gone to grad school, I’m sure the idea of PC is probably not optimal, but it’s how a lot of my friends were able to get the field experience that later led them to better jobs.

      – Are you open to moving to the field? It’s also a lot easier to get jobs in the field once you’re there, but you might be able to get started (internship or whatever) if you have a connection through your grad school or other network. And I find that helps a lot with future job applications.

      – Are you open to working for a for-profit contractor (DAI, Chemonics, Abt, etc.)? There are issues with this too, but it gets you experience and generally pays at least a living wage.

      – Last but not least: you might consider moving to a city if you can get a job you don’t hate and volunteering somewhere on the side in order to get further experience. If you’re interested in working with refugees, for example, and can get some other job in a city with opportunities (even office manager), you might be able to volunteer to assist with refugee integration programs. A lot of times you’ll be able to gain skills you wouldn’t otherwise, which then can help in finding other work.

      Best of luck. As someone who’s been here before, I understand. If you want any other thoughts, feel free to leave a comment and maybe we can figure out a way to get in contact.

    3. BF50*

      Thank you for validating my life choices.

      My undergrad degree is IA, but after graduation I chose to not look in IA for a variety of reasons (cost of living in the cities mentioned, the idea of being constantly depressed by the state of the world and my minimal impact on it, the lack of jobs available in the field without multiple graduate degrees, etc, plus I met my future husband and didn’t want to leave the area.)

      I’m happily working in finance using my degree for not much more than critical thinking skills at work and a deeper understanding of the news than many of my peers. When people ask how I use my degree I tell them that I married an Irishman, but that’s more like international affair, than affairs.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Ha! I was talking about this with someone the other day about how we used to read The Economist and have heady intellectual discussions after work, and now we’re like “oooooh a South Park marathon?”

        I guess eventually a lot of us just get over the strong passion we once felt for our career field, and get on with life. I’m not sure if that’s sad or just the way things are.

        1. ToraHime*

          I totally relate to this! It’s almost as though we have a lot more capacity for intellectual pursuits, be it international affairs, serious literature or whatever, when we’re younger. I don’t know what happened to my brains in the last 15 years, but the passion for Serious Stuff went off to somewhere. Maybe it’s vacationing in the Bahamas while I slave away here… I think a part of it is that Other Concerns of Life start occupying too much of my brain.

          I’m kind of hoping that the old passion will come back when I retire.

  34. Allie*

    I don’t know why people jump so quickly to retail or fast food as of they are the only options, particularly for someone with a college degree. I have done my fair share of retail and fast food work, and I completely understand why someone would want to avoid them: it’s often exhausting so you are sapped of needed energy to job search, but can pay so little you can’t get independent or any progress or time off Like treading water with ankle weights on.

    That kind of suggestion is really just out of date.

    1. nnn*

      Actually, building on this, in many cases a better place for a college graduate to look for a survival job outside of their field is at their alma mater. Colleges are likely to see their own degree positively, and some schools outright have policies favouring hiring their own graduates.

      Many of the non-academic staff at my alma mater came into their jobs this way, and the culture of the school looked positively on people bringing additional and diverse qualifications and interests even to jobs like admin assistant or alumni liaison.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Seconding this suggestion! After my Fulbright, I needed to find a job, because there was no way I was moving back to Utah. I was hoping to stay in my grant country, but work visas were nigh-impossible to get, so I focused my job search on the US and applied for a position in the admissions office of my alma mater (figuring that as an alumna, they’d have to at least look at me). I ended up working in international admissions for three years, and while it was not the job I wanted when I took it, it turned out to be a valuable experience: not just a professional background, but I learned how to interview, I planned international travel, and I used my IR background to plan our recruitment strategy for different regions. Ultimately, I was able to use that experience as a launch pad for my next steps (grad school and State), and it was a very good choice.

    2. Delta Delta*

      I find that bothersome, also. There are plenty of things out there people can do that fall on the spectrum between “diplomat” and “French fries.”

    3. Anonygoose*

      I think those are just the types of jobs that are fairly easy to find and also fairly easy to leave – I would feel no guilt leaving a job at McDonalds after three weeks, but I definitely would if I were a receptionist for a small, local business.

      They definitely aren’t the *only* jobs the OP should look at though.

      1. Purple Jello*

        Exactly! And the temp market is not the same as in the 1980s, but I worked temp for 2+ years and got tons of experience and contacts.

      2. HannahS*

        But they’re not, though! Fast food restaurants in my area refuse to hire anyone with a university education. They’re not interested in someone that won’t stay for more than a few months.

        1. Gadfly*

          Which is funny because I used to run ads stating they preferred a bachelors (and hinting at “management possibilities”) for fast food places where I was.

    4. Ghost Town*

      After my BA, I had about 8 months before grad school started (graduated a semester early), and had a hard time finding something to generate income in the interim. At the mall store where I eventually was hired, the manager looked at me funny and asked why I wanted to work there, since I had a college degree. The spectre of grad school looming months away worked for me in that case, but definitely highlights your concern.

      1. Allie*

        Yeah I hide the ball a little bit on a summer job once where I let them know I had been accepted to college in town but not that it was my safety school and I would likely go elsewhere.

        Don’t get me wrong, working food service in high school helped with money in college because I picked up random emergency shifts for cafeteria events and shabbat dinners on campus. But I can see how after a college degree that would be demoralizing to be working the same job as the 16 year old.

  35. nnn*

    I wonder if it actually is feasible where OP lives for someone with a master’s degree and internship experience to get a fast food or retail job, or if that’s just one of those things parents think about job markets that is no longer true.

    After I graduated from university (and this is just with a bachelor’s degree), I found that employers were very reluctant to hire me for jobs that didn’t require a bachelor’s degree. I worked tech support throughout university while getting a degree in an unrelated field, and after I graduated this was suddenly seen as a negative when I was applying for tech support jobs I was perfectly qualified for. The degree didn’t make me over-qualified, it just made me other-qualified, i.e. I had a credential that was unrelated to the job in addition to my years of relevant experience. But employers saw that as a negative.

    So based on that experience, and given that the job market is tighter today, I wonder if a fast food or retail job even is a reasonable expectation.

    1. LizM*

      Exactly. I applied for paralegal and legal assistant jobs after law school because there were zero entry level attorney positions (2009), and I needed to pay rent and eat. I had several firms tell me they didn’t want to hire me because they knew I’d leave for an attorney job as soon as the market got better.

      Even retail jobs I had people tell me that they’d rather hire someone without a college or grad degree because they’d be more likely to stay with the company.

  36. amysee*

    OP, you say that your mom “witnesses your failure to launch every day” and I just wanted to flag this because in no way have you failed to launch. You earned a graduate degree in a field you care about, in addition to a temporary job in your field that values and recognizes your work. Starting your career is hard, but you’re on the path.

    I wonder if your frame of mind about your own accomplishments/worth as a worker might be holding you back from some things that would help your search. For example, have you felt comfortable asking your current boss or coworkers for networking contacts? I also wonder about your feeling that the work is too fast-paced for you. I don’t mean to doubt your perceptions or your own self-analysis, but there is “fast-paced,” and there is also “being a lower-level worker doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily well-suited to the fiddly administrative work lower-level workers are often assigned.”

    Finally, if you project confidence about yourself and your future, your mom may well start to take cues from you that things are going to work out and she can back off some. It’s not a silver bullet, but it may help.

    Good luck!!

  37. Dust Bunny*

    You may very well need to take a job outside your field, and then continue to look for jobs in your field. That’s reality for a lot of us.

    I have a history degree. My first jobs out of college were a) cleaning stables and b) cleaning kennels at the vet’s, from which I advance pretty quickly to veterinary assistant. Not even within shouting distance of my field.

    It took me a couple of years to find a job that required a history background but I did get one (actually, it’s related to a medical school, so the veterinary stuff, it turns out, has been useful). You’re theoretically in a better position than I was since you have a Master’s, but I know plenty of Master’s holders who also don’t do what they went to school to do. I know plenty of Ph.D.’, even, who don’t do what they went to school to do.

    You might also need to consider jobs in less-than-your-dream locations. I’ve thought about going back to school because I have a relative in–are you sitting down?–northern Louisiana who forwards me jobs I could almost get if I had a few more notches on my resume. It seems to be a potential advantage to me that I’m willing to live in northern Louisiana even though it’s not New York or San Francisco or somewhere else that Hollywood thinks is sexy.

    1. paul*

      Places that are *amazing* to live in if you have a good paying job. Very low COL coupled with good income is nice. It’s why we’re looking at staying in the flyover regions if it’s viable.

    2. AMPG*

      Unfortunately, International Affairs is a field where the jobs are concentrated in a few cities. There are jobs out there in other places (World Affairs Councils are a good place to start for those), but not many, and the OP shouldn’t count on landing one.

  38. Venus Supreme*

    I wonder if OP and I have the same mom…. One summer between school years I didn’t have a job lined up and my mom locked me out of the house and told me to come back when I had a job. I returned home with three jobs (housekeeping, retail, etc.)

    I didn’t have a full-time job lined up after my internship ended and I chose to work a few side gigs for three months while living at home and continuing to apply for jobs. The silver lining in that situation was that it was extremely easy for me to take time off for interviews.

    I saved every penny and had a plan: if I didn’t have a job in my chosen field by X date, I was to move to another city with my old college roommate. I’d have enough rent for a few months and roommate would’ve been able to provide me with a retail job right away. That way, I’d be able to continue the job search but not under my mom’s watch. I ended up getting a full-time job before that deadline, and I still chose to move out of the house. In hindsight, that deadline was helpful because it gave me something to work towards without feeling like there was TOO much pressure- yes, my mom would still tell me about this lady she met in the store who had a friend’s business card for this wonderful company I should apply for and stuff, but I felt less pressured because I had X days left in the house.

  39. Ghost Town*

    I advise for an area studies graduate program located in the Midwest. International affairs, diplomacy, intelligence, etc. is where a lot of our students and alumni want to be. Assuming you’ve already done or are in the process of taking/studying for the Foreign Service Exam, I want to point out that pretty much every Department has an international part to it. You could work the REGION desk at Commerce, be an attache for Treasury, work in International Education. Some of the sub-departments have little-known fellowships that can act as an way to get your foot in the door. If you haven’t already, think about all those organizations that offered funding, trips abroad, speakers, etc to you and your classmates in grad school; look to see if/what they have available. You’re department undoubtedly has some sort of a job/career resource list, site, or email digest. So do your department’s counterparts at other schools. On some level, these are public access, so poke around their sites to see if they have position postings or sites to search. And you probably already know about this, but

    Our alumni can officially utilize career services for something like 6-12 months after graduation, but alumni haven’t been turned away when they contact career services. They are probably a better resource for polishing your resume and cover letter.

    Also, as you probably already know, applying for a federal government job is it’s own thing. You should seek out resources on how to craft your materials and answer the questions specifically for their system.

    Best of luck!

  40. cobweb collector*

    Retail jobs will always be there, and very few of them are hiring now for June. Try to make a deal with your mom – if I haven’t found a job by June 1st, then I’ll start looking at retail. In the mean time I want to focus all my energies on finding a job in my field and don’t want to lose my focus or spend my energy on other things.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Retail jobs aren’t exactly thick on the ground and can’t really be relied on as a fallback. Brick and mortar retail is not doing well these days.

    2. Aveline*

      I know a lot of newly minted lawyers who can’t find work in their field who try to do retail or fast food. No one will hire them.

      LW is best office registering with 2-3 temp agencies and seeing who finds her the jobs she likes on a steady basis.

    3. Writer*

      Retail is hemorrhaging jobs. About 100k retail workers lost their jobs in the US in the last six months.

  41. Greg*

    Regardless of the details of this situation (which none of us know completely), my advice is to approach this as a communications challenge with your mother. Figure out what is motivating her concern — that she’ll have to continue supporting you, that you don’t fully appreciate the state of the job market — and then tell her what you’re doing to ameliorate that concern. Also, present her with a plan: “It’s important to me that I find a job in my field; however, if I haven’t done so by the 35th of Movember, I will expand my search, and take the following actions, etc.”

    First of all, doing this will be a good exercise in making a plan and holding yourself accountable. Second, it will demonstrate to your mother that you are mature and in control of your situation. That alone will probably help blunt at least some of her anxiety.

  42. Aveline*

    Letter Writer

    (1) Ask your mother if her concern is you progressing in your career path, the financial stability of the household, or both. There’s a huge difference between I want you to work at fast food and I NEED you to work somewhere (bring in income).

    If she’s concerned about failure to launch, your approach is to talk to her about career trajectories or maybe the two of you sit down with a career counsellor.

    If she’s concerned about the household income, sit down and have her work on a budget with you. If she says “I need you to earn X per month” then you know what you have to bring in to get her to stop asking you about this.

    (2) Look at all the temp agencies in your area. Have them lined up in case you don’t get a full time gig.

    (3) Look at new geographic areas. There are a lot of good jobs in smaller cities that are very satisfying.

    (4) Network in the area in which you want to work. Join professional organizations. Join social and charitable organizations where the people already working in the field hang out.

    (5) Be realistic. You may need to find someone through a professional organization to look at your skills and experience and give you a realistic appraisal of your odds. They may also say “you have done everything correctly, but most people also have X skill, Y experience, etc.”

    I have a friend whose son wants to go into foreign service. I have another friend in foreign service. Sat the kid down and said “you will need to learn at least two more languages fluently, do X, do Y.” After the kid realized how much work it would be, he changed careers.

    I have also mentored several law students this past year and told them how to go get practical experience in our area (e.g., Legal Aid, Veteran’s service organizations, our community foundation) and two of them are now gainfully employed.

  43. DouDou Paille*

    OP, it sounds like you have two separate issues: first, a little naivete about the prospects of getting a job that exactly aligns with your field of study and desired goals; and second, perhaps you suffer a bit from anxiety? Not trying to diagnose, just picking up on some cues in your letter (ie “the place where I’m interning is too fast-paced for me,” and “how do I approach my job search with less stress and anxiety?”). For issue #1, I suggest broadening your search to include related fields. As a new, idealistic grad this may sound anathema to you, but trust me, a VERY high percentage of people do not work EXACTLY in the field they studied. (FWIW, I got a Master’s in IR about 20 years ago, and now I work in public relations for a travel company. But I’m quite happy with the way things turned out.) For issue #2, consider getting some treatment if you feel your anxiety is holding you back from doing/achieving what you want. I suffer from panic/anxiety and can honestly say that getting CBT was the best thing I ever did. Lastly, set yourself a timeline getting your “dream” job and moving out of your mother’s place, even if it involves getting an “interim” job in fast food, grooming dogs, digging ditches, or whatever. Most of us have had to do scut work from time to time, and it won’t necessarily hurt your career prospects as long as you have an exit plan. Sometimes being out there working any job is better than NO job, if only to get you out of the house and out of your own head. And you never know who you might meet – your next customer at McD’s could connect you with your next “career” job.

  44. Jessen*

    One practical point I might make to her is that low-end jobs want to hire, at most, 2 weeks out. When I started my call center job, I was expected to be there in less than 2 weeks, with the heavy implication that if I didn’t want to do it then I’d just have to wait and reapply. If her internship ends in June now is really not the time to be applying for those sorts of jobs.

    1. DouDou Paille*

      Agreed – I’m not suggesting she get her next job now, just that she formulate a plan and start doing research.

      1. DouDou Paille*

        Sorry, Jessen, I thought you were replying to my comment but not I see that you were not! :-0

  45. TBH*

    It sounds like OP is willing to relocate in order to find a job, so I would recommend the OP start looking for jobs in places other than the most popular – and thus most competitive – area for the field (in this case it sounds like those are DC and SF). I used to be in a niche industry that is heavily weighted to one or two major US cities, and I never ever had success job searching those areas. Way too much competition – and why would an employer want to fly you out for their entry-ish-level gig when they probably have 50 candidates already in their city? I researched good programs and companies in locations other than those two major cities, and I found wonderful and satisfying jobs and had a healthy career in that industry. Don’t limit yourself because you think the only place to find jobs are those primary locations. It’s a big world, I’m sure if you do some legwork you’ll start to discover things in your field in Denver, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, Atlanta, Minneapolis, or any number of other places.

    This is all based, of course, on prioritizing finding work in your field. If your priority is actually getting to one of those specific markets you mentioned – then I think you need to give some thought to your approach and how likely you are to get to that market waiting for a gig in your field.

  46. ilikeaskamanager*

    There is a lot of background that one would need to know to fully understand what is going on here. My suggestions are the same as the rest: make a plan to be self supporting and to get out of the house, inform mom, and then stick to it.

    I have two adult siblings–late 30’s– content living with mom and dad, unwilling to do anything that might interfere with the possibility of finding the perfect job–which is one that pays lots of money and where they work about 10 hours a week. They can only do this because Mom and Dad allow it. I think seeing situations like this one makes some parents-maybe even including the OP’s mom–hypersensitive about kids living at home.

  47. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I think parents do have some obligation to their kids while the kid is in college, and after for a while- but the kid should work at least part-time if they can, at something. And it’s okay for parents to pull connections to help the kid get a job to start with.

    I started working at 15, when I was going to go on a student exchange in a few months and my mom refused to pay for my spending money over there. I was lucky to find a job in the city library, since they knew me well and I had previously assisted the school library instead of having a study hall. I stayed there until I left for college. And between graduation and leaving for college, I worked the summer in a factory. I did OK, but they didn’t ask me back for the following years. So my parents supported me during college summers, though I did temp and babysit and take care of chores.

    When I graduated a semester early, I could not start law school until the following fall. So I temped a bit, then my mom found out the credit union was looking for a project clerk to digitize their paper financials. She recommended me- and HR head had had my mom as a high school teacher. So, I was a nepotism hire. 10.50 an hour, with some flex time but no other benefits. The worst I can say is that it was…boring. But if I hadn’t gotten that, I probably would have had to flip burgers- I understood I couldn’t not do any work.

    On the other hand, my parents had some connections and could afford to give me my old room, add me to their gym membership, and lend me a car for work. They had me save all my work money, except for $100 a month or so for my own personal care items, snacks or coffee outside the house, and any special things I preferred to eat or drink that weren’t normally bought (I flatly refuse to drink milk, so mostly it went on soy milk and Powerade for post-workout). So, though I wasn’t costly to support, I understand not all families can even do that. I think if your adult kid is working at something or looking, and open to working at anything they can get, and doing so won’t immediately impoverish the parent, support the kid. Your kid shouldn’t have to live in poverty, be hungry, or risk their health (min wage doesn’t cover hardly anything), while parents go on costly vacations or look to buy a cabin or something.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      I can understand that. We moved my final year of high school, so when I was on vacation from college, I was job-searching in a town where I had very few personal connections–plus, the local university ended their semester earlier than mine did, so those students had an advantage in applying for local gigs. Thankfully for me, my mother worked at a small local law firm, and they needed a courier. I borrowed my mom’s car and got paid to drive around listening to NPR all summer. If nothing else, it taught me that I firmly did NOT want to become a lawyer.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        And I don’t want to be a banking clerk! But it was useful experience with working with people over all ages, basic IT since I worked with little oversight under the IT person, and leadership- the new digital system was my “baby” and I had to present on how to use it and help all sorts of coworkers. That was nerve-wracking as the youngest worker by a decade!

  48. gingerblue*

    OP, I really dislike the replies that suggest your mother has some sort of say in your job search. She doesn’t. You’re an adult, and there are two elements to this situation, one of which your mother has a stake in and one of which she does not:

    1) You are job searching. This is entirely your business.
    2) You are living with your mom. This is her business as well.

    Personally, I would suggest reframing any conversation with your mother to be about #2. Reasonable conversations with her include things like you paying her rent, doing a share of the housework, end dates to aim for if this living arrangement isn’t comfortable for both of you, whether she can store belongings for you, etc. However, how you meet any obligations that you agree on with her (like paying some rent, if that’s a thing you’re doing), is up to you. Consider limiting the information you share with her about your job search. Don’t ask her to look over cover letters or for other advice; practice saying no to sharing information you don’t want to share. If your mother is a reasonable person, consider laying this all out clearly (“Mom, I appreciate what you’re doing for me, and here is what I’m committed to bringing to the arrangement; but I’m not willing to do X, Y, and X. Does this still work for you?”) If your mother is not reasonable, think about appeasing her as part of the transaction, and consider how much appeasing her is worth to you and where your cutoff is.

    I’m suggesting this for two reasons. For one, you’re at a time in your life where you’re renegotiating an adult relationship with your mother, and you’re likely to be better off in the long run setting firm adult boundaries. Your mother gets to be concerned for you (and to express that within healthy limits), and she gets to expect you to fulfill any agreed-upon obligations (and you get to expect the same from her). She does not get to instruct you in how to meet those obligations or to relieve her concern, any more than a landlord gets to tell you which job to take or a boss gets to tell you what exercise regime to follow. People frequently confuse these boundaries, and the landlord or boss may *feel* that they have some stake in whether you can pay your rent or get sick; but as long as you’re meeting your obligations to them, how you arrange your life to do so is not actually their business. (Even if you’re *not* meeting your obligations, why isn’t their business, only the fact that you’re not.) The second reason is that it can change your mindset helpfully. Instead of thinking “I must find a job to satisfy mom”, make a list of your needs, desires, and assets, and start thinking about options. Move to a new city 500 miles away and couch surf with a friend until you find something? Take a less-than-ideal job for the money, planning on it being a short-term thing while you keep looking? Do some traveling while waiting for the job search to pan out? Hold out for a job in your field? You have options, and some solid advantages, like an education and clear career goals. You sound smart and on top of things; you’re going to come out of this fine.

  49. MommyMD*

    Mom is tired of (at least partially) supporting you. That’s valid. If you want her to have zero input, move out, pay for your entire life on your own, and then you can conduct your job search in any matter you please for whatever length of time you need.

    If you as an adult accept any financial help from mom, including living under her roof, using her utilities, eating her food, etc., she has the right to voice an opinion and enact timetables of how long she is willing to keep up her level of support. If one obtains a degree in a saturated or low-interest/employment market, that’s on them. A Plan B is in order. Good luck.

    1. Beancounter Eric*


      Sounds much like what I heard years ago when I was a 20-something recent graduate job hunting.

    2. Whippers.*

      “If one obtains a degree in a saturated or low-interest/employment market, that’s on them”

      Oh come on! It’s one thing to say that you might be expected to look in other areas if your degree isn’t highly employable. However, it’s another to suggest that it’s an 18 year olds fault for choosing to do a degree that isn’t highly employable; they’re just kids who have no idea of the job market or of their own skills a lot of the time.

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, I think it’s completely insane to expect an 18-year-old to be making such critical choices about their career path and basically telling them “Well, if your degree doesn’t help you get a job, it’s your fault for ruining your whole life forever!” I’m always curious how many people who force themselves into getting a “more employable” degree end up not working in that field anyway because it’s not worth being miserable doing something they don’t like. And I’ve known a decent amount of people who just fall into a job after college and don’t really figure out what they want to do until 5 or 10 years later when they’ve had time to try out different things and see what actually makes them happy at a job.

        Kids also don’t always have the most reliable sources of information for what’s a “good” degree; I’d bet there’s plenty of parents out there who still think of law degrees as sturdy foundations for employment, but I’m pretty sure anyone who’s gotten one recently would tell you to run! run far away! since the market is so oversaturated.

        1. MommyMD*

          But if that’s your path, don’t expect your mom to support you into your 30s trying to find yourself.

          1. LBK*

            I think it’s up to each individual parent to do what feels right to them and what’s within their means. Certainly instilling a level of self-reliance is important, but I think it’s bordering on cruel to basically tell your own kid, “Well, you decided to go fuck up your life by pursuing something you actually enjoy that doesn’t pay well, so you’re on your own to solve this mess.”

      2. MommyMD*

        That’s where parents and college counselors come in. If a kid wants to major in musical theatre, fine. It’s a parents job to let them know that this is nonsustainable in reality. Also, it’s up to the student to research job forecasts.

          1. Tinker*

            On my part I actually was, looking back on it, incredibly exacting as 18-year-olds go in this regard — I did pretty much all the things that Kids These Days are admonished for not doing (often in advance of actually determining whether they in fact did or did not do it), and also I got a pretty good result. So, use me as a stick to beat the rest of them with? Eh, not exactly.

            It’s also true that I was a) performing better than one can reasonably expect from the population as a whole, partly because b) I was driven by mostly-suppressed terror of falling contemptibly short of expectations and despite all of this c) I was also lucky, because at the time listening to the wise advice of my elders and the data I had in hand regarding job prospects would have more or less equally supported going to engineering school and pursuing an English degree; had I not been easily impressed by the inclusion of dynamite in fireworks shows, matters might well have gone otherwise.

            Also, as someone who is now an engineer, I particularly appreciate the thing which is commonly noted — that not everyone can be an engineer — as well as a thing that is not so commonly noted: From my perspective, I do not nearly as often find my life improved by the addition of an additional engineer as I do by the addition of a previously-not-present barista, lawyer, line cook, blogger, larp designer, plumber, therapist, barber, or diplomat (nb: I play one in a larp, and it is for the good of all that such as me not attempt to do this in real life) — all of these are nontrivial specialties that do things that need doing, and we ought to be at minimum appropriately respectful of the people who pursue doing them.

            1. LBK*

              As always, I find your comments insightful, wonderfully sympathetic and eloquent. Thanks for saying this – someone’s still got to do the jobs that aren’t paying the highest salaries, and people shouldn’t be admonished for not basing the entirety of their life decisions on maximizing profit. Like I said above, everyone getting the same degree based on perceived financial reward rather than true interest is how we ended up with way more lawyers than the demand can support.

    3. Tinker*

      She can voice whatever opinion she wants — truthfully, that’s true regardless of the financial situation, but financial dependence does reduce the degree of immediate leverage — and do with her money what she wants, but that does not mean she can voice whatever opinion she wants and expect this to have no effect on the relationship.

      I think this is a thing that more parents (and also children, though for different reasons) seem like they could use to keep in mind.

  50. Kaybee*

    The hiring processes for “dream job” international affairs jobs take a very. long. time. The Foreign Service examination process is lengthy. So is the UN hiring process and the Peace Corps process. Federal international development agencies (USAID, MCC), the civil service side of the State Dept., and the internationally-focused divisions of other federal agencies are subject to the same federal hiring processes that receive frequent complaints for taking so long. Many, MANY people who have these jobs had to find an interim job in between school and their “real” job. That’s just the way it is. International nonprofits with faster hiring processes are flooded with applications, and it’s super competitive to get a low-paying entry-level job (go find the post about the applicant who had to make dinner for 40 people as part of her interview process). International finance seems to be a field in which some folks with the right education and experience can be hired into relatively quickly (but sometimes with crazy interview processes), but I don’t get the sense from your letter that that’s what you’re interested in. Some people get lucky and get into these types of jobs quickly, but again, most folks I know in them had to work elsewhere for awhile. Chances are your international affairs major has left you with a strong public policy or political science skill set; find an interim job that utilizes those skill sets, and you’ll be even more competitive in the application process for your “real” job.

    1. livingthedreaminmydreams*

      I agree—-no entry level job in international affairs is a ‘dream job.’ You work your way up to the dream!

    2. RVA Cat*

      Seconding the political skill set – if you’re in the DC area, maybe get involved with the Virginia governor’s race?

  51. Beancounter Eric*

    AAM’s answer strikes me as spot on.

    A thought re. Mom’s standing to complain: Did Mom question the wisdom of majoring in International Affairs? Also, who paid for school?

    If Mom was footing the tuition bill, or if Mom was asking “is this field a good idea”, I’d argue Mom definitely has standing to, if nothing else, say “I told you so”.

    1. Ninja*

      But you don’t have to find a job in the field you studied. My degree’s in ancient and modern history, but I worked checking the addition of marking on exam papers, in Christmas retail, and was then thrilled when I got a job as a secretary on £10k per year in an adult education department. None of those jobs (or any of the ones I’ve had since) have been about my degree; but they’ve often called on broader skills that I developed in my degree. And maybe that’s what Mom thinks – think laterally (particularly if you’re finding the internship too fast-paced)!

  52. HR Something Something*

    Just a suggestion for OP: After the internship ends, working retail or serving in a restaurant could help you not only financially, but in finding that “perfect job”. You’ll meet people, get even more connections (you’d be suprised…), and there won’t be a time lapse of work on your resume. If you do a job that has nothing to do with your field, at least it’ll show on your resume that you are a hard worker and willing to do whatever it takes. This doesn’t mean that you’d have to be a lifer, by any means. And retail and serving are both high turnover so you also don’t have to feel bad by leaving quickly if and when another opportunity presents itself. I’d hate for you to put your life on hold, financially and otherwise, waiting for the “right job” in a VERY industry specific field. That could take well over six months, especially if you are fresh out of grad school and entry level. As a hiring/recruiting manager, I’d look at not only your education and your internship, but I’d look at your job history regardless of the fields worked. If there are months and months passing with no job, I’d wonder why. With the right attitude, you can learn a lot from any job that will ultimately help you in the “perfect job”. (This is all regardless of your mother’s meddling.) Good Luck!

    1. always in email jail*

      ^this. As someone who frequently hires “entry level” folks (by that I mean young-ish folks with a masters in the field who just haven’t managed to break into our niche area yet), I look favorably upon people who continue to work their not-dream-job. It enables them to provide more legitimate references I can contact for information. Your supervisor at your retail job can tell me if you show up on time reliably, you attitude, if you follow directions, if you’re able to work relatively independently, if you’ve ever dealt with difficult customers, how you deal with members of the public, how you relate to coworkers, etc. Having references that can speak to those qualities is valuable in a job search. If there’s a tie between someone with actual supervisor references and someone who puts “professor”, “classmate”, and “family friend” (STOP DOING THAT PEOPLE), I’m going to pick someone with supervisor references.

  53. theletter*

    I’d like to second the advice of looking for temp firms that focus on office work if nothing comes through after your internship. You could identify those firms now and perhaps even have some conversations with them. Make sure your linkedin account is up-to-date and you’re making those connections. Ask your current coworkers about their work history and where they enjoyed working in the past (people love talking about themselves and their history). Focus on doing a good job at work while you have your internship.

    Set an amount of hours per week that are feasible for you to be actively applying. Treat it like a part time job or a class.

    Then, take some time on the weekends to spend some quality time with your mother. If and when you move away, she won’t get to see you that often, and she’ll wish she had spent more time enjoying the company of her smart and passionate daughter, rather than pestering you about your career.

  54. Genny*

    OP, something else you need to consider in your job search is how realistic your goals are. You could spend six months only searching for a job in the federal government, but that’s not likely to get you anywhere. Due to federal budget cuts, many government agencies just aren’t hiring, so I wouldn’t spend too much time applying for them (and I say that as someone who works for the federal government as a contractor). Similarly, many international affairs NGOs and implementing partners are also hiring fewer people or not hiring at all because they’ll be getting less grant money from the federal agencies who had their budgets slashed. I definitely second what many of the other commenters have been saying about thinking creatively and looking at positions and organizations that aren’t traditionally IR. You may also want to consider moving abroad.

    1. Gadfly*

      My mother recently retired from a federal job considered important enough that it doesn’t get shut down when the rest of the government does, and they can’t replace her (or any of the others who’ve left) because they’ve had a hiring freeze for months and don’t see that changing any time soon.

      More optional federal jobs probably are not doing better.

  55. always in email jail*

    1. I really like the idea of charging a young-adult child rent but secretly saving it for them. That NEVER would have occurred to me but is truly awesome.
    2. It’s been said other places, but if you’re living with your mom she has a right to request that you continue to have a job after your internship ends. Working retail or a similar job to pay your bills isn’t going to hurt you in the eyes of an employer. It’s not going to put you any further back in your job search than just plain not working while job searching would. If anything, it at least gives you an additional reference that could be useful.

  56. Artemesia*

    International affairs is one of the most sexist fields in which a young educated woman can try to find work. I know many women with brilliant academic careers and masters degrees from good schools that struggle to get jobs that their male peers get easily. This adds a layer to the difficult of getting work in a glamour field with few jobs.

    Rather than fast food, I think the OP should be thinking long and hard about fields where she could use her skills like project management, grant writing, (whatever it is she has learned in the internship) and be applying for jobs across a broader spectrum. And as the time runs short and nothing is happening, look to temp work in office settings where she might make contact and also continue to build skills that might lead to a good job.

    1. Ninja*

      There’s nothing in the letter to suggest that it’s from a woman. (Is there? I’ve reread and couldn’t see anything.)

  57. Dazed and confused*

    I’m 25. From the time I turned 18 in the fall of my senior year of high school, I was given the expectation that I would pay for an additional things I needed. You want a car? Pay for your own gas and insurance. You want clothes? Pay for that yourself. You want to go to the movies with your friends? That’s on you. My family has always provided me a place to live rent free and food when I was in college but all my other expenses are my own including cell phone, car, and clothes. Food became exclusively my responsibility after I finished school. This was partially due to my family not having more funds to help me but also to help teach me some responsibility. I’m only still living at home due to paying off student loans and I have made a deal with my family that I will be out by x date with the intention of buying a house. They don’t believe in renting and are willing to let me stay at home rent free for additional time to save for a down payment.

    1. Dankar*

      That’s really incredible! I’m in essentially the same boat, but I’m remaining on my mother’s health insurance for the rest of the year. Not having to pay the premium is allowing me to pay off loans, which I’m very grateful for!

      Ugh on not believing in renting, though. My father has offered me the same kind of deal and I turned him down, flat-out. Not only am NOT moving in with him, I am so not the home-owning type. I’m so much happier in a rental! (Which I recognize is not the norm.)

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Lots of people prefer renting — not having to deal with expensive home maintenance is a huge plus for renting, plus buying isn’t always the best option depending on how long you’re planning to stay somewhere and what the resale market/location desirability looks like. We have both rented and purchased — there are benefits to each, and which is better really depends on individual circumstances.

        Plus, the housing market is such in DC that downpayments are in the six figures — it takes average people a lot of time to save that kind of money, so renting may be the only option.

  58. Allison*

    As much as your mom loves you, no parent wants to support an adult child indefinitely. At your age, living with parents is something you only do when you absolutely have to. Your mom wants to be your safety net, but she also wants you to start earning a sustainable income so you can move out and start living your own life, and she can get her house back!

    If you only had a bachelor’s degree, I’d say stop holding out for a job in their field and look into other, more realistic career options that could possibly give you can pivot into the field you want to work in later on, or you might find a new passion you hadn’t thought of when you were in school. Things do change. I have a BS in political science, but I found a rather nice career in talent acquisition, and now I have enough money to support myself and have fun doing what I like as a hobby. Sometimes I think it would be awesome to be a legislative aide or researcher at the State House or some nonprofit advocacy organization, but I’d be making half what I make now.

    However, you have a master’s degree, that changes things for me. You put in extra time and money for this degree, it seems like a waste to put it aside for just any ol’ job. In fact, some employers might be less inclined to hire someone with a master’s irrelevant to the job, because that candidate is likely to jump ship once they find a job more relevant to the degree – and either way, might be less willing to take the salary they’re looking to pay, because they have all that extra debt and more education.

    But there still needs to be a trade-off! If it must be in the field you studied, be willing to take just about any type of position, even an administrative one. And if you must have a job in that field, and no other industry will do, and you still haven’t found anything by the start of June, start looking at retail and food service jobs so you have some money coming in when your internship ends.

  59. KB*

    I feel you, OP! I would also look abroad at NGOs. It can be difficult to get work unless you are abroad in those countries, but once there you can network and usually get good paying work. Yes, this administration wants to cut foreign aid (which amounts to less than 1% of the federal budget, FYI), but other European countries are now making up the costs in many health related areas.

    I moved abroad and actually had to volunteer for a couple years. It was rough, but worth it for me. I worked at home and saved my butt off before moving. My first organization provided me a daily per diem, housing, a flight home a year and health insurance (they were European). But once there, I networked, worked hard and moved to higher roles in other organizations and then to different countries. You won’t get rich, but you are usually provided housing, insurance, flights, and occasionally R&R ( extra vacation/sometimes a bit of money for travel if in conflict areas). This allows you to save the majority of your salary. I have also been able to travel the world, meet amazing people, and do work I feel makes an impact. It has not been a cake walk though and I have lived in some of the most difficult places in the world. The danger tourists and party people don’t last; you have to take it seriously. It can also be hectic and crazy hours (no 9-5), so if you aren’t up for it, maybe don’t listen to my comment.

    I would look at various US and European NGOs ( is a good website). Internship and officer/coordinator/grant writing/ junior roles would be a good start for you to apply if interested. Most that say 0-3 years of experience and if you are applying to conflict areas I think you could apply for some roles that want 3ish years of experience. I hired someone last year who only had internship experiences for a 3+ year experience role, but we were desperate and it was mainly communications/reporting and she thrived and did really well. It depends on the role, organization, and country though.

    Also, everyone wants the “fun” countries. You are more likely to get something if you apply to places no one wants to go, especially for your first overseas role. I just spent years in Iraq, before that Afghanistan. It isn’t for everyone, but it was important for me to stay in the humanitarian realm. Both places had difficulty with recruiting (for obvious reasons), so with hard work I probably moved up quicker than I would have in other countries or Europe/US based. Yes, those places may scare your family and do your due diligence before you decide. I am not saying go there, do what is best for you.

    I had a nice life in Erbil, Iraq compared to other places. Most people don’t know that, so there are lots of vacancies for posts in Erbil. It depends on the organization regarding security protocols, but I lived on my own (many people lived with others in compounds or in certain areas/ buildings with roommates) and could go to the mall, park, gym, coffee shop, hiking etc. We lived in compounds and had tougher security protocols in Afghanistan and Baghdad. In these areas I was also tougher on security for my team and relied on my security managers to know what was going on to decide what was best. Just a bit of my experience.

    Either way, I would also first apply to some of the NGOs that aren’t so well-know (do research to make sure they are a good fit), but if you apply to say IRC not having much experience or being in the country, you may not get traction. But if you apply to lesser-known organizations you may be able to get a country you want that way as well. Again, I am not saying do this, it is just my experience and what has worked for me. Just something to think about.

    Good luck!

    1. Jo*

      Yes to all this. Also, OP, you can look at countries that aren’t considered as “sexy” (i.e., covered in the media, getting most of the funding/attention, etc.) right now – for example, in Afghanistan it’s getting really hard to attract qualified people so there’s a much higher chance of someone with less experience getting a shot at the position than there might have been in the past. Also look at local NGOs, which is how I got my start. Often, just being a native English speaker who can write well is a huge advantage.

  60. PhillyPretzel*

    I agree that the OP may need to start looking for jobs that will tide them over while still looking for a job in their field (or at least on the road to something they’d like to do) and wanted to offer one suggestion that I don’t think has been mentioned yet. If you’re a fairly recent graduate, is there any chance that you have access to student employment postings at your former college/university, or have contacts there that would know about these opportunities? During my graduate program, the student job boards were a super useful resource for finding hourly work that tended to be fairly skilled, pleasant, better paying than fast food/retail, and open to hiring people for short periods of time (since they tend to hire students who may only be able to commit for a semester). I’m currently in one of those weird interim periods myself (graduated in December, still looking for full-time work), and am working two part-time jobs in a university office that I found this way.

    Even if you’re not near the school you attended, you might do some poking around the websites of nearby schools and see if they have any student jobs advertised. They might be restricted to current students, but in both of the jobs I’ve held, there was definitely some leeway about that.

  61. N*

    I’m a little late to the party, OP, but I hope this helps. I was in the same boat when I was finishing my AmeriCorps VISTA position. I started looking for jobs well in advance but was struggling and knew I might have to take almost any job just to pay the bills. So I set a few deadlines for myself: at the beginning of the job search, I would start looking into those long-shot, good-opportunity, well-paying, room-for-growth jobs (and I certainly didn’t discount them as time went on) but knew that if I didn’t have any leads by the time I was so many weeks or months out from the end of the VISTA term, I would just start applying to whatever I could find to pay the bills. It could be perfectly reasonable for you to set up that kind of an agreement with your mom. i.e. “Let me continue to look for these kinds of positions my way, and if I don’t have any significant leads or callbacks by xyz date, I’ll start applying to the fastfood and retail positions.”

  62. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    Oh OP. I feel you on the Mom issue. When I finished grad school I lived on my own, in a (comparitively) low COL region, and my job prospects were EXCELLENT. (The economy was really good then!) My current job was temporary (but with full benefits), and there was at one point a question as to whether it would turn permanent. I made the mistake of relaying this. Not in a “Panic!” way, but in a, “That would be a bummer, I like it there!” way. She immediately started talking about me taking a job in HER office (not what I wanted to do, and for less money to boot) in my hometown, and moving home with her. I had to shut it down hard and fast. “Mom, I am not going to do that work, and I am not going to move home. My job prospects here are better. I’m not concerned about finding work.” So, yeah, this is a Mom of 20-somethings Thing. (Spoiler alert: The job did turn permanent. It launched me into the career in HR that I have now, which I LOVE. My mom now only sometimes listens to my employment-related advice.)

    As for advice, I agree with the advice to temp. I’d also say retail or something like that isn’t a terrible plan. I made the mistake, right after college, of taking a job at a bank while I searched for a job in my field. It led to me quitting after less than a couple of months, after they had invested in training me. I wasn’t even there long enough to qualify for health benefits. (Which is why I opted against retail in the first place!) In hindsight, working retail or temping would have made a lot more sense given that, in those jobs, no one is expecting you to stay forever.

  63. Erin*

    Apologies for the slightly off topic comment, but are there any articles/blogs/etc that readers can recommend for setting boundaries with overbearing moms?

  64. Cap Hiller*

    Hi OP – I work in DC. First, definitely consider PoliTemps for temp work (I am not affiliated with the company in any way).

    Second, IR is a FIELD not a JOB–what do you actually want to be doing? What type of job do you want to do? Yes, if you’re only focusing on jobs that serve the ethnic minority of the region you’ve studied, you might not find many jobs. But if you broaden to just the region? IR generally? The field is huge. And if you don’t know exactly what you want to be doing, just find a first job to to see what’s out there.

    Also–are you networking during your internship? Going to talks at the Wilson Center, events on the Hill, alumni events to event meet people? Are you doing coffees with people in your field? This is what will help you get the jobs you apply for.

    Finally, you mention you’re concerned about where you are interning being too “fast paced.” I think that’s an interesting observation because I’m not sure what you mean by that. I appreciate that you’re truly learning from your internship and assessing different orgs, but DC is fast-paced generally. Do you mean people work too many hours and you want to find a job with a better balance? That might be tough entry-level but non-profits are generally better with that. Or did you mean that you’re self-conscious of your ability to keep up? If that’s the case, please take the advice someone else mentioned above and get into some therapy or career counseling. Part of DC’s appeal is that it is chock full of smart, confident people, and the key is being confident in what you do know and are able to do and being willing to learn what you don’t.

    OP you can do this job search–outside the mom situation, this is a classic DC search that just requires your time and tenacity. You can’t just be sending apps. Go out and meet people to make connections and help clarify good places to work for. You can do this!

  65. LizM*

    I’m curious how long it has been since OP’s mom has been in the job market, and especially the entry-level job market.

    When I was starting my job search, I got a ton of advice from my parents and parents’ friends that Alison is constantly poo pooing on this board. I ended up tuning a lot of it out (except my dad, he was a federal manager in my field, so actually did understand norms and what worked in the federal government, which was where I ended up focusing a lot of my attention).

    In your mom’s defense, it’s really hard to help someone look for jobs, especially when you’re used to playing an active role in their support. You lose a lot of control. This is more relationship advice than career advice, but it may be helpful to sit down with your mom, and try to figure out what’s really bothering her. Is it the idea of a lack of income in June? Is it a cultural expectation that you work, and have no gap in your resume? Is it that she fears you’re search is too narrow? That you’ll never move out? Once you understand her actual concern, share with her your plan to address that concern.

    There is a big gap between your dream job and working fast food. Help your mom see where you are on that gap. Let her know if there is a point where you will consider something like fast food or retail, and how you’ll know you got to that point. (FWIW, it’s probably too early to be looking for jobs like that right now anyway if you’re not available until June. In the past, when I’ve worked in that field, most places have wanted me to start immediately, unless they were in a large tourist area with a lot of seasonal work, in which case, they usually did their hiring in the spring with start dates in early summer).

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