The Death of My American Dream
In light of NY Times cover story “American Dream is Elusive for New Generation” I am posting an article that I wrote a year ago for my college newspaper about my frustrations with the job market after graduation.
The Death of my American Dream
I was asked to write an article about what I’m doing with my degree, to give hope to all you soon to be graduates. Well sorry to disappoint you, but your degree is useless for getting a career. So enjoy your last month in the fantasy land known as Academia.
I finished my Art History degree in December, and headed out into the world to pursue what I love. I moved to Seattle, and dove in head first to the job world. I scoped out every art gallery at the city, met with people in the business, went out of my way to find connections. I couldn’t find anything. After being unable to make rent, I had to stop being so picky. I searched craigslist for jobs. I called temp agencies. I sent my resume to 150 different businesses. After almost two months, I took the first job that I was offered.
Do you want to know what I am doing with my degree? I’m working for the information technology department of a corporate company. Sure, it’s a respectable job that pays the bills, but why did I bother staying awake in lectures about American Art and creating thousands of flashcards, if in the end, I’m just going to deploy software to corporate executives?
I’m sure you have heard all this hysteria about the economy and the job market. Thousands of people are getting laid off from their jobs. As sad as that is for them, it is worse for you. You now have to compete with these people, who have years of experience, for positions that you are both probably overqualified for. In my hometown, an ad for a carwash position drew in 300 applications. Here in Seattle, I’ve heard stories like the banking executive who was laid off and couldn’t even find a position as a bank teller. Even the guy I carpool with is getting laid off. It is grim out here.
Academia had filled me with dreams and false hope that I would enter the job market prepared. I didn’t. I had no idea how to format my resume or write a cover letter. Employers don’t care about the A’s that I worked so hard for, the shows I curated, my unpaid internship or the articles I wrote for The Collegian. My advice: get a pushup bra and a pair of glasses that make you look deceitfully smart. Worked for me.
Ok, the real world really isn’t that terrible. My last semester of school, my stress level was so high that I had dreams about dying almost every night, and my shoulders were so tense that I had to go to a chiropractor. Since I’ve left the WU bubble I haven’t had a single nightmare, and my shoulders couldn’t feel better. But I would take back the nightmares and the stress if it meant I could actually find a job in my field.
So if you want to know what I’m going to do with my degree, I’ll tell you, I’m moving to Argentina. Since my American Dream is dead, I’m replacing it with a new South American Dream. Good luck soon to be graduates, welcome to the real world.