When one graduates college with a four-year degree denoting high honors, it is automatically expected that he or she will do one of two things:
1. Transition into the confines of a corporate cubicle.
2. Continue education through enrollment in a master’s program.
Back in May 2007 the above story matched my profile. A new college grad, diploma in hand, everyone had such high aspirations for me. I choose to pursue option number one, as continuing my education – and subsequent debt – just didn’t seem prudent.
That was nearly two years ago. Fast forward to today, and while I still hold out hope for landing that “big position,” I have yet to find my proverbial calling. After graduation, I moved back home with my parents. My rustbelt locale is officially categorized as “America’s Third Poorest City.” To say finding a job is a challenge in this area is an understatement. Sure, there are jobs within my field (which is marketing communications), but they’re tight. Employers want to see experience to the tune of 3 – 5 years or more. A couple of internships, freelance side work, and a B.S. just aren’t going to cut it.
And then September 2008 hit and the economy began its meltdown. Now the few-and-far-between job offerings in this area have gotten leaner still. The “Job Finder” section of the newspaper has shrunk to one page, this from a time when it used to be about 6.
So for myself, the biggest impact of this recession has been a difficult job search made even harder. Sure, an occasional job of interest pops up – I monitor the help-wanted ads, online sources, and other job-seeker tools on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the amount of competition for the few available jobs is stiff, and like I said before, my resume just isn’t as decked out as most employers expecting.
What am I doing to deal with this situation? I’ve worked part-time, temp, and other entry-level job to keep the bills paid. Right now I work in a department store. I have gracious parents who let me live inexpensively in their home. I have always led a frugal lifestyle, and I continue to practice those principles such as:
* Combining errands when I’m out to save on gasoline (even if it has come down significantly!)
* Brewing my own coffee and cooking more at home
* Spending Sunday mornings reading over sales ads and clipping coupons from the newspaper
* Getting rid of credit cards, and using those I do keep responsibly (i.e. paying down the balance every month)
I’ve had to make adjustments in my longer-term goals. I know the important of a 401K, but it’s likely now that when I do land that big position, I’ll seek a safer investment alternative for my retirement nest egg. The stock market is too unstable for me.
I need to be careful not to get sick or injured. As of right now I cannot obtain quality health insurance. Eating right, exercising, brushing and flossing – all good things to practice anyway – take a new roll in my life in insuring that I preserve my health without medical intervention.
The current recession has taught me about frugality, perseverance, and learning to happily live below one’s means. I believe the economy will turn around, I will find better employment, and I will come away from this with an innate sense of caution and financial wariness. Such skills will benefit me the rest of my life. Until then, I plan to keep searching the help-wanted ads, pinching my pennies, and preparing for the best that is yet to come.