Twelve 20-somethings chronicle their lives for WBUR. Learn more.
I never foresaw that, at the age of 25, I would still be struggling to find a career and working at a job I am overqualified for. I know I must be thankful to have a job while many others do not, and especially a job that doesn’t pay minimum wage, but I always thought I would be further along by now.
I attribute that to the abysmal job market.
I am currently working at a job where my daily tasks have become very routine and do not utilize any of the skills or knowledge I gained in college. I am enrolled in a Master’s program studying history and archival methods, so I initially took the job to learn some archival skills — namely, digitization methods — and because I wanted to get off unemployment. And I do feel lucky that I have gained some tools in the archival field.
But after working here for nearly ten months, I am finding little opportunity for further growth. I’m content with staying at my job until I graduate with an MA this spring, but, with the slowdown in teacher hiring and fast track of teacher layoffs, that might extend past graduation.
I am very frustrated by the job market in the Boston area. After having taught for a year under a competitive teaching program, I took the MA state teaching exams and became certified to teach History for Grades 5-12. But no one is hiring. And those who are hiring are looking for teachers with more experience, a hurdle that I’ve heard a lot of post-grads come up against: the mandatory three-to-five years experience in positions that utilize skills that anyone with a college degree should be overqualified for.
Of course, teaching experience is different than, say, the experience that employers seek for administrative assistants. But I would think that having two years of teaching experience under my belt and being a semester away from becoming a scholar of history, having written two lengthy theses, would be enough to standout from a pool of social studies teacher applications.
Yet I can’t even get my foot in the door as a teacher’s aide or substitute.
Another of my frustrations is that job applications have become mechanical. Employers are looking for key words on resumes and do not seem to appreciate the broad skill sets that come with liberal arts degrees. Employers will turn me down for administrative jobs that simply require answering phones, managing a calendar, and greeting walk-ins. Yet because I don’t have three-to-five years experience in a nearly identical role, I am seen as unqualified or, more often than not, not even worthy of an email response.
I am trying to give myself options by opening as many doors as possible. So, while the door to teaching is not opening for me right now, I’ve made do by teaching a course this fall at UMass Boston’s OLLI Institute, adding another credential to my name. And, in case I come across more difficulties in landing a teaching position this coming spring, I’ve begun applying to do research abroad next fall.
Part of me likes the idea of being a “jack of all trades” and leaving my future open to possibilities, but I also long to settle into a teaching position and be able to share my love and passion for history with students.