Twelve 20-somethings chronicle their lives for WBUR. Learn more.
I definitely feel “stuck.”
When you’re in your mid-twenties, unemployed, and still dependent on your parents, it’s very easy to lose your sense of identity and purpose.
You question your qualities and capabilities. Why am I here? What do I really have to offer? It makes me feel lazy and guilty and at fault when people continually ask, “Have you found a job yet?” and the answer to that question is always, “No, not yet.” It makes it seem like I’m not looking hard enough or I’m not focused enough on the job search.
It’s always very tough confronting the firing squad of other adults, like your parent’s friends or your boyfriend’s parents. “What sites have you looked at? Where have you applied? How many applications have you put out?”
I’m 25 and at an unpaid internship. And this sounds crazy, but I feel fortunate to have gotten this internship opportunity because at my age and being out of school, businesses and employers are reluctant to hire people like me who are not enrolled as full time students at a university. I tried to get an internship through the English department at the university in my hometown but they refused me because businesses require that you be a student “for liability or insurance” purposes. I’m not quite sure what that means.
All of the book publishing companies that interest me never seem to be hiring for any entry level positions. There are unpaid internship opportunities on one end of the spectrum, and then on the other end of the spectrum the positions they ARE hiring for are that of senior editor or managing copy editor or accounting specialist — jobs that require many years of experience. Even the entry level copy editor positions posted on my hiring agency’s website require at least two years of experience.
How does one get their foot in the door if they’re too old to be hired for an internship, but without any experience in the field to actually be hired for a job? I almost feel I have to make my case as if I were switching careers because I didn’t major in English or journalism and I’ve never had an internship related to the field of radio or print publishing. And there is definitely a very small window of opportunity for horizontal job movement. It’s very difficult to change or switch career fields because it’s like starting from zero — back to square one. All the previous employment experience you’ve accumulated means nothing.
I completely agree that it’s up to each one of us to make the best of our situations no matter how crappy they are. I don’t want to be seen as playing the victim or simply whining and complaining and blaming everything on the outside circumstances, but I feel I do have a right to express my bitterness. I can’t help but feel resentment towards the idea that everyone, growing up, told us that we could be anything we wanted to be and that a Bachelor’s degree would open up the doors of opportunity. But I feel like it doesn’t make a difference anymore. I have a Bachelor’s degree and it doesn’t mean I’m going to get paid more than someone who didn’t go to college. I still don’t expect to receive anything more than $10 to $15 an hour, which is what I made during the summers while I was still in school.
The decisions made at an executive level at financial institutions definitely have an impact on our day-to-day lives and that should not be ignored. Not just young people new to the job market but retirees and seniors are being forced to suffer the consequences of someone else’s greedy and irresponsible mistakes. Another issue of frustration is that we spend so much money trying to get an education and the reward is you get to become part of a gigantic pool of job applicants that look exactly like you on paper.