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Question 0

Do you feel stuck?

Vincent Capone

While I have a job, it’s not where I want to be.

To start, I got a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts, which turned out to be worthless as the research and communication skills garnered are not sought after.

In an effort to get a job out of the gate, I joined Teach for America, which aims to recruit college grads to go into teaching. A lot of college students are aiming for these “job guarantee” programs, which I argue are not worth what they say they are.

The program was terrible, no support, and f****d me over. The program I was in forced us into getting a teaching certificate for the area we taught in, which put me down $20,000 in loans because they were affiliated with an Ivy League school. I ended up leaving after one year and going onto unemployment once I was back in Massachusetts.

Since then I’ve joined an MA program and took exams to get certified in teaching here in Massachusetts, but, of course, there are more layoffs than hires. Now I’m working in a job that uses none of my skills from college and is taking me nowhere, as I apply to teaching jobs that are not existent.


  1. speedgraphic at 7:10 pm, September 19, 2012

    How did he manage to get unemployment benefits after quitting a job? And it’s “guarantee”.

  2. Vincent Capone at 7:56 am, September 21, 2012

    I wasn’t rehired to the school I was teaching at but I “voluntarily” left the actual teaching program after they refused to support me, as in their mission statement.

  3. Eric at 2:38 pm, September 21, 2012

    I’m a former communications major turned MBA student (I worked in journalism for 8 years between degrees). I have found my communication experience coupled with my business degree is proving to be a powerful asset. On its own, communication degrees may not make for stellar resumes, but it’s been a different story when coupled with business training.

  4. ImaTeacherToo at 4:58 pm, September 21, 2012

    If a future employer ever sees this type of comment about a previous employer (and they are very likely to find it), it is going to make getting the next job tough.
    No job is perfect and most jobs are not easy, that is why we get paid for showing up everyday. Demonstrating you can solve problems and finding ways turn difficult situation around could have made this opportunity a great launching pad for a career in an area that may have been related to your college major.

  5. DA at 9:42 am, September 22, 2012

    Try teaching abroad – China & Korea are starved for teachers of English. Lots of interesting history in these places. Koreans aren’t too friendly to foreigners (history) & China has no medical care beyond acupuncture, but it’s experience & you get paid (albeit less than in Japan) to meander places some people pay $$$ to tour. No shortage of ads on line for such slots, and most pay for airfare. Some Chinese try to get you pay a ‘placement fee’ – avoid those. Have a look – good luck! DA

  6. Jane Hamilton at 10:43 am, September 22, 2012

    Maybe you could learn Spanish so you can compete with the 2 million illegals your age that Obummer just let in. People, especially in this age group miss the connection that letting in milllions of people illegally takes away the GOOD jobs. But then again you have all been tricked into thinking you will be getting “free” healthcare LOL …the cost of health insurance has already gone way Up under Obummer. Oh and don’t forget to resent rich people like Romney cause, and I can seem to figure this one out, they took away …… hmmm

  7. jefe68 at 4:45 pm, September 22, 2012

    Funny how the real numbers are net zero for people coming
    here looking for work illegally. But that’s beside the point. Your comment and the
    nasty tone implies why the right is so out of touch. You reek of mendacity that the regressive right oozes from every pore. You’re right in there with Romney and his contempt of anyone who is not in the 1%.

  8. CircusMcGurkus at 9:18 pm, September 22, 2012

    You want to be a teacher? Really?

    I earned a liberal arts (history) degree many years ago and I learned a lot in college that helped me (a) figure out what interested me and why and (b) where I had natural skills and what I would need to work on to become good at anything I wanted to pursue. I did not learn that employers or anyone else owed me a thing, I did not learn that if things sound better than they turn out to be that the entire experience would be a loss, I did not learn to complain, and I did not learn that my first job would be the very best thing since sliced bread. I knew that in my first job people would be taking a risk on an unknown quantity who had a lot to learn and that if I gained any skills in college they were to adapt and embrace that new learning curve in order to excel.

    Please understand that I am trying to help you when I say that you sound very entitled. None of us who has worked hard to build our reputations, skills, knowledge and careers is about to hire anyone who feels that by graduating college – even if you had stellar grades – he is entitled to call the shots. By what order of the world are you, dear child, so endowed that the rest of us should be bowing at your feet and praying for the wisdom of your knowledge and your learning? Why do you even need a job when you are so much more capable than the yahoos who run Teach for America (and why did you fail to provide THEM with feedback to improve?) If you have such superior knowledge (and you may), start your own business or school or tutoring program. You seem to think that there is something unique and monumental about graduating from college. There isn’t (unless you do so after coming home from war or while you are a single parent juggling work and school and childcare, or something else along those lines which is truly monumental and I have never, ever heard one of those incredible people complain -or fail to get hired -but, I digress.)

    You may (but may not) have the knowledge to assess what makes a good or bad teaching program. Perhaps you did not take advantage of opportunities that existed but were not handed to you. Did you ask questions when you felt lost and seek out additional help when you did not feel supported? Those are skills, believe it or not, that you should have learned in college if you had not already learned them before.

    Sometimes very good programs can be very bad fits. This is also something that experience teaches; you might spend your time better by figuring out what you liked and did not like about the program (without blaming the other people involved) and then take that knowledge to the next position – ask questions in the interview along the lines of, “When I worked at Teach for America, I felt I had no one to turn to with questions. What kind of system do you have in place here?” “I know I benefit from a (pick one: collaborative/hands off/directed) work environment and it sounds from the job description that that might be a good fit here. Is there anything I should know about the office/school that is outside of that part of the job description?” “Will I get help preparing for OR have the opportunity to do X because I have never done that but I am interested in doing it well.”

    You are very young even though you feel grown up. Life is long, if not long enough, and it might be better to smooth over that chip on your shoulder and recognize that if you do the lifelong journey right, you will never feel done and even the rough spots where you feel all is hopeless will provide nourishment along the way, no matter how insane that seems at the time. Defenses are normal and if we are honest they never really go away, but try to pull back from yours if you ever want a chance to demonstrate those skills you think you have (which, oddly, you do not mention.) Life requires a lot of learning, most is not in a classroom and most does not respond well to letter grades. The most valuable teachers may come from the most unexpected places, but we do well to be ever open to their lessons.

    Also – FYI – college is not a trade school; it is an opportunity to open your mind to things you never knew before and people you otherwise would not have met. It is a chance to gain from wisdom of professors and fellow students and to explore together how to solve problems, figure out new ways to look at old information, and find out what interests us enough to pursue it for a while. But, mostly college provides a chance for a few years to experience the joy, the incredible, delightful, delicious, glorious joy of learning itself. Those thinking and life skills serve you no matter what career you choose and no matter what job you have.

  9. Regi57 at 4:27 pm, September 23, 2012

    Wow. Amazing how much you think you know about Vincent and his experience and thoughts about college and work from his short narrative. A response shouldn’t be longer than the original story. A bit arrogant of you, me thinks.

  10. Jane Hamilton at 10:38 pm, September 23, 2012

    just keep your head in the sand and hurl out a few insults now and then and you will be fine….

  11. Dan at 7:10 am, September 24, 2012

    Unless you know someone, or want to teach where whitey dares not go, you’re goal to be a teacher was doomed from the start. Most organizations HAVE to advertise their open positions but you can bet your last buck it’s already filled by someone ‘hand picked’. Thus the nature of ‘PUBLIC’ education. In my opinion, if you want to hire good people, use a lottery system for public school teachers. That will go a long way in curbing cronyism which has INFECTED America.

  12. Dan at 7:15 am, September 24, 2012

    Yeah, that CircusMcwhatever is probably a teacher with WAY too much time on their hands, or a politician! Simply because they KNOW everything. Of course majoring in math/science MAY have been a better choice but then he probably would have had to study. Probably, they’ll still take your money because education is about THEM, the faculty, not the students.

  13. Donna Williams at 7:59 pm, September 24, 2012

    I’d like to see you have a budjet so you understand how to make ends meet. My budjet is yearly. Write down all your expenses starting with the larges ones. Rent, food, transportation, taxes, health insurance, utilities, clothes & shoes, retirement, entertainment, toiletries, gifts, technology. Then compare the total of all those things to what you make in a year.

  14. CircusMcGurkus at 11:47 am, September 26, 2012

    No, not a teacher. I actually help the most disadvantaged folks in our society. I went to a public college and worked my way through. I served my country as a VISTA volunteer and then worked through grad school. And, I was not then and am not now motivated by money or prestige, but rather contributing to the greater good.

    Vincent (and anyone else who feels stuck and frustrated) could volunteer ANYWHERE to gain teaching experience: from educating adopters at an animal shelter to educating kids in environmental non-profits to guiding tours through the State House. There are countless opportunities if he really wanted to do what he says he wants to do instead of complaining that no one will hire him. The idea that experience is only garnered in one spot is preposterous. The most successful folks (and people define success differently) are the ones who are creative in their approach and open to everything.

    He need not take my advice and folks can call me arrogant but then I am not complaining when things do not go my way; I try to learn from each experience and find a new path. Vincent made a telling remark: that he was not rehired by the school at which he taught and had no support from Teach for America. Why? What steps did he take to find out why he was not asked back and what steps did he take to gain support from the program? We do not know. Most of the time it is not about the answers, but rather the questions where we gain knowledge.

    I do not claim to know everything – quite the opposite. I am learning all the time.

  15. Vincent Capone at 10:55 am, September 27, 2012

    I’m not afraid of voicing my opinion of the TFA program. Sadly, the program itself is prone to even more negative views than myself, especially among teachers.

  16. Vincent Capone at 10:56 am, September 27, 2012

    I have a VERY extensive budget plan that I use. In a future post, you will see that I don’t allow money to change my lifestyle and aside from not being where I want to be in my field, I have very little debt.

  17. Vincent Capone at 10:57 am, September 27, 2012


  18. Vincent Capone at 10:59 am, September 27, 2012

    I think you misunderstand what I say. I am also in the field of history and have found much success here making a name for myself as a scholar. I do NOT feel entitled and have performed research that many in the history field as an undergrad have not performed. I’ve gotten the most out of my education and I have no complaints.

    And as being “entitled” for seeking support as a teacher, I necessarily wouldn’t have argued, but the TFA program is BUILT to grant supports to new teachers and people outside of the education field. And they failed.

  19. Vincent Capone at 11:03 am, September 27, 2012

    You don’t know my story with TFA and it’s a very shady one, as many in the program felt at the time. And I was NOT the only case in my region.

    And I have a very stellar resume with many collegiate qualifications, robust research, teaching experience, and I volunteer. At present I volunteer at a renowned museum, and work in a full time job while serving as a TA and teaching a course. I’m not complaining, I merely point out that teaching is not as easy to get into in today’s economy.

  20. Vincent Capone at 11:03 am, September 27, 2012

    Thanks! I actually taught in China five years ago – loved it! I enjoyed teaching ESL but I’d rather teach history (will be looking at international schools soon though)!

  21. Vincent Capone at 11:04 am, September 27, 2012

    Great advice – I’ve never felt very interested in the business spectrum, but its definitely an option.

  22. Vincent Capone at 11:05 am, September 27, 2012

    I would argue (though not complaining) that the Chinese have a larger foot in the door than any “illegal Spanish-speaking immigrants.”

  23. CircusMcGurkus at 7:58 pm, September 27, 2012

    When you say you are not complaining, please re-read your initial statement where you were, ummm, complaining that you had a dead end job which was not taking you anywhere or using any of your skills. several people posted about the way the comments read as complaints about the TFA program, etc.
    I could not agree more that education is far too costly in this country and it is tragic that the emphasis is on access to federal loans and NOT reduction in tuition and fees where it should be. This saddles even more people with exorbitant debt and often limits what people believe they can do workwise because they have this huge mortgage sized school loan debt over their heads. I am sympathetic to that – it is awful.
    However, I still do not agree that education is a consumer based commodity (any more than medical care) and I do not believe that college is a trade school. It is unfortunate that TFA did not work out, but good that you voiced your concerns to try to help yourself and improve the program – it’s a shame that did not bear fruit.
    Teaching history, sadly, is very difficult because – for policy reasons I imagine we would both agree are shortsighted – it is not a high demand job. History is not even part of the MCAS and people do not understand the value of learning history…although I would say that a good knowledge of the past could have prevented the financial collapse, misguided wars and many other world events more than a degree in math or business could have.
    If you imagined teaching when you went to school, did you have a mentor – or could you access folks at your college – to help steer you in a good direction to teach? I think, unfortunately,in this environment (and I do not even mean economy), teaching history may require more school (which may or may not have benefits but certainly has costs) to obtain a PhD to enable you to compete with everyone else who wants to teach history. Again, education is different from schooling and schooling may not bear out the cost benefit analysis. But, charter schools and private schools (which pay less) may have opportunities as well.
    At your age, with your interest in history, have you thought about working as a tour guide? This could be a lot of fun as well as allow you the opportunity to share your knowledge (which is really what teachers do) and continue your research in a meaningful way? There are private companies that do this and tourism is a huge business in Boston so there may be economic opportunity as well. Further, guiding is a big part of the National Park Rangers’ jobs. They are not paid well, I admit, but they offer tremendous opportunities to meet people and continue learning with later possibilities in federal work which might be very rewarding. Many of the park rangers here at Peacefield and the African American History Museum and the Harbor Islands are incredibly knowledgeable; many are working as they pursue a Masters degree or higher.
    Creativity is just as important as pluck. So, if you think about other ways to use your skills (research and educating as you have explained) there may be less traditional teaching roles out there that could be very enjoyable. History teachers – with very few exceptions – are not wealthy people’ and many (from grade school through high school courses) feel that their jobs are a bit dead end as well. It is hard to be a history scholar (because it usually requires the backing of a university or college for the time to research and write) but it is not hard to be an historian and a researcher and a teacher if you think about it. You will find your way. Good luck!

  24. Vincent Capone at 8:01 am, September 28, 2012

    Thank you for the advice. While teaching is the field I want to get into, it’s not the ultimate goal for myself. At present I have many doors often and my research is allowing me to create a name for myself within my field of history, and I’m contemplating an overseas fellowship to further this research – so all is not yet lost :) I agree that teaching history is difficult to find a way into at present and doesn’t have a huge payoff, but it’s something that would keep me going to work each day.

  25. CircusMcGurkus at 5:18 pm, September 28, 2012

    I do not think any rational person has an ultimate goal at 25. Or, if s/he does the disappointment at 50 will hit like a rock.

    I wish you well but I would suggest that you stop calling yourself a “scholar”; “scholar is a term others choose – or choose not – to bestow upon you. You have an interest and you are studying it. I think you said you are teaching at U-Mass Boston continuing ed which is great, but truthfully, no matter how much you know on your topic, there are true scholars from whom you could learn a great deal on the very same thing. Take baby steps.

    It seems that you want so many things which is normal for youth – it is just where you should be; a bit frustrated, a bit full of yourself, a bit anxious and utterly unsure. You want money: research is not a money-driven field. You say several times that you want to teach but you then say that you do not want to teach. You want respect but this takes lots of time. You want to sound important and this is a tragedy of the modern age: children are told to “sell themselves”. Academia hates that because they have worked too long in their fields: there are no facebook-phenomena in academia. Study takes time. There does not have to be a stated purpose for research, but it helps if it is something fascinating enough to you that you can enthrall a group who never though they would care about it. Watch a lot of TED talks for guidance.

    I hope you get that chance to go overseas on a fellowship. That could be very exciting. But, try not to think of it as your ticket to stardom.

    My advice – and I imagine someone else as ancient as I has told you this – do what makes you happy. Life is too short. Money is not that big a deal OR if it is, make it your only deal and pursue only that. If you find joy in something do it without worrying if it will monetize. I realize money is important; we do not live on air. But lose the idea that money and value are the same thing. They are not. Lives worth living have value but there may not be much money involved.

  26. Gee at 2:40 pm, October 4, 2012

    You sure are getting a lot of advice, welcome or otherwise. I think people would sometimes rather find fault with the individual than consider the larger issues that affect all of us. There is a lot of received wisdom about young people feeling “entitled” or being “spoiled”, as though that’s the reason unemployment and underemployment are so high in this age range. I don’t think that line of reasoning adds much to the conversation, as young people today seem just as willing to work hard to improve their lot in life as have previous generations of human beings everywhere.

    And it is not “complaining” to discuss the difficulties you’ve encountered in your education and career efforts, despite what some may say. You’re taking constructive action and doing your best, which doesn’t make you a “complainer” in my book.

  27. Vincent Capone at 10:15 pm, October 4, 2012

    Thank you.

  28. John S at 1:22 pm, October 16, 2012

    What are you talking about Jane? You mean the “GOOD” jobs like picking strawberries for hours at minimum wage? And how did this degenerate into a conversation about the president? The president has actually been much harsher on undocumented immigrants and deported many times more people than any of his predecessors. Not saying that this is a good thing. Just a fact.

  29. BT at 12:53 pm, October 19, 2012

    Trying to do something like TFA in order to have a job out of the gate? It’s not a jobs program for college grads who don’t know what to do.

  30. Vincent Capone at 11:33 am, October 25, 2012

    Yet if you read the post you’d know that I have intended to go into teaching since entering college, and thought TFA would be able to give me the experience and a job out of graduation in that field.