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Question 1

Are you currently in a job that you feel overqualified for?

Cheyenne Question 1
Photo prompt #1: Take a picture with your major.

I am very grateful to say that I do not feel underemployed. My job is full-time, with benefits, and the opportunity to move up. Over-qualification is not the struggle in my work life, but under-compensation is.

As if that wasn’t enough, I have two other jobs on top of the first, yet persistently find myself without. I work
too much to be underemployed, and way too much to be so poor. While, yes, I feel challenged at work and while I refuse to feel anything other than appreciative to just have a job, having to work three jobs and six days a week, just to almost make by, makes it hard to think I am in the right place.

When I try to remember what I would have thought myself to be doing after college, when this was only a mystical future time, I can’t remember what I wanted to be. But I feel good about guessing: living in an apartment, with a good job, but I would have thought then that I’d have a boyfriend by now.

Two out of three is respectable for a child.

What I didn’t see coming was the job paying for the apartment — and almost nothing else. I don’t have three jobs (that I am proud to work) because I am saving money or trying to finance a trip. I usher and sell half-price tickets because that buys me food and (mostly) pays my student loans.

At Emerson College, I got a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies with concentrations in Dramaturgy and Directing, and a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. I started college as a Writing major and was introduced to theatre criticism in a Theatre Appreciation class the college had assigned to my schedule. During college, I got the chance to be a dramaturg, director, actor, producer, board member, RA, and women’s basketball team manager (some of those things are still on my resume). I know more people in the Boston theatre community because I met them during college — in fact, I still work at Emerson.

But it would be exceedingly naïve of me to think that not having gone to college would disqualify me from having any of my current positions. I learned a lot during college and I think I made choices that helped build the foundation for my professional development, but having those experiences and getting these jobs are not mutually inclusive events.

I am not always happy with where I am. There could always be more money, or more free time, or more responsibility, but I am happy that I worked for everything that I have, doing something I love. I do struggle when I am encouraged to find something — anything — that will pay me more, weighing the lifestyle that working in a bank could provide me against the benefits of working in theatre.

What keeps me going is knowing that every time things are tough and I still make it through, I am one step closer to doing what I want and also actually being able to live that way.


  1. Anonymous at 10:33 am, September 24, 2012

    Unfortunately, the profession you have chosen is not a money maker. I noticed that a few of the people being profiled for “Generation Stuck” have chosen the arts, publishing, journalism etc… and these are not fields where typically you will be making a good amount of money to support yourself. Are you only willing to work in the field that you went to school for? I know people with literature degrees who are working in PR or finance just because literature doesn’t pay the bills. I think unfortunately many people are having to take jobs in other fields than what they studied for. It is good to gain experience in other fields so you have more options. Make sure you are networking too because sometimes it is all about who you know. Good luck.

  2. Vincent Capone at 10:56 am, September 24, 2012

    That’s a good point! It worries me that the humanities field is shrinking and not given the respect it deserves. Where would society be without standard bearers of history, archives, or the arts? Science and finance are great fields and deserve high salaries for the amount of work they do, but all fields contribute to society and the arts shouldn’t be any different. Personally, I have been branching out into different fields, but I don’t want to sacrifice my knowledge and passion because it doesn’t pay good amounts of money (which I believe it should). I’m contributing strong research to the field of history and I’m enjoying it, but I’m just not able to afford it long term.

  3. Anonymous at 11:55 am, September 24, 2012

    It is indeed sad Vincent, that the arts and humanities fields are not demanding of the higher salaries. But, it is the economics of it all and unfortunately it is the way it is for now. Sad indeed. I think though that if you want to go where your passion and talent lie, then it is a coming to terms that you might never make a salary where life is comfortable. It could always be a paycheck to paycheck thing, but if you are okay with that because you are following your passion, then great. But if that will be such a stressor for you because you can’t start a family, or live life the way you want, then other options have to be looked at. You guys are young, so I say look for opportunities in other fields (start working admin somewhere and work your way up. That is what I did) then in your free time work in the arts. Volunteer, or work as a consultant, actor etc…. I know someone who worked in Sales and in his free time acted in Community Theater to get his acting bug satisfied. I do think that all of these Generation Stuck stories are a victim of the chosen industry. A few teachers, journalists, etc…. Even the lawyer. Law professions are no longer the guaranteed money maker. I think branching out is part of the answer here.

  4. Vincent Capone at 12:27 pm, September 24, 2012

    I’m moving into education, which in urban areas, can provide a bit more than a “paycheck to paycheck” lifestyle. The end goal for myself is collegiate teaching.

    But in terms of admin jobs, even those jobs today are ruthless. Aside from being drawn from a pool of 500+ applicants, basic admin positions call on applicants to have at least 3-5 years of experience for basic tasks that any college grad should already have acquired (scheduling, phone, etc.)

  5. J__o__h__n at 8:44 am, September 25, 2012

    Aren’t most people in this economy? I have been for a while.

  6. Lisa Tobin at 9:55 am, September 25, 2012

    Hi Anonymous, thanks for your comment. We did notice, but it’s pretty tough to edit a handwritten sign inside of a picture.

  7. Anonymous at 1:45 pm, September 25, 2012

    Well hopefully there aren’t any errors in her resume or cover letter. That could be a bigger issue….

  8. Cheyenne at 2:39 pm, September 25, 2012

    That actually isn’t an error. Theatre is the art form, and theater is the building.

  9. Cheyenne at 2:46 pm, September 25, 2012

    Nevermind, the larger issue is that I am too nervous about having my picture taken to spell correctly. That is embarrassing.

  10. Anonymous at 2:52 pm, September 25, 2012

    Theare? I don’t think that spells anything. It is missing a T.

  11. Cheyenne at 3:03 pm, September 25, 2012

    Well, I hope you can find some sympathy in the fact that taking pictures of myself makes me nervous enough to misspell something that is obviously going to be seen.
    Also, I don’t think complaining is anyone’s goal here. I appreciate the forum to not only be able to hash out how I feel about my situation, that I do feel is tough, but to also get acquainted with people with similar circumstances but in different situations. Hopefully, as we have just started, you will find some substance as we go on.

    Thanks for reading. And now I will make sure to check EVERYTHING that I do. So thanks for that too.

  12. Cheyenne at 3:18 pm, September 25, 2012


  13. Anonymous at 3:35 pm, September 25, 2012

    Don’t be embarrassed! We only point it out constructively because one thing recruiters will tell you is that the cover letter and resume have to be perfect. One spelling or grammatical error can get your resume thrown out. So proofreading is vital. I hope that is helpful. Don’t be embarrassed, it takes a lot of bravery to be on this series.

  14. Sam P. at 3:43 pm, September 25, 2012

    Making a mistake that she can admit to certainly does not make her lazy or sloppy in other areas. Never make a mistake yourself? Surely you can move on…

  15. CircusMcGurkus at 11:06 pm, September 27, 2012

    Umm, pot? You are the same color as the kettle:

    “Did nobody notice that she spelled “theatre” wrong in the picture?…
    This series has lacked a bit in substance and/or it’s ability to
    generate sympathy for it’s subjects, and now I’m starting to wonder if
    those behind the scenes are also complaining about being stuck while
    they can’t even spot or edit something so obvious.”

    Because, you see, Anonymous – “it’s” is NOT the possessive of “it”. That would be “its”. “It’s” means “it is”, it is a contraction, not a possessive. Ergo, your comment on Cheyenne’s misspelling had the identical error of which you complained. TWICE. And if you ask me, Cheyenne’s sweetness is significantly more appealing than your chastising. But, your error is much, much funnier.

    AS you note, proofreading is vital. Good point, Anonymous.

  16. Gee at 2:16 pm, October 4, 2012

    We Americans have a very powerful bias in our understanding of personal hardship. We prefer to look first for any sign of personal fault, weakness or error as an explanation for the circumstances in which a person or group find themselves. We have more difficulty however looking beyond the individual, to consider the larger societal, structural factors that underlie “failure” or “success”. After all, ours is supposed to be a nation of individual meritocracy, where we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and anything is possible if you just work hard enough. There is some truth to that, of course. But if taken as an absolute, what of those who haven’t “succeeded”? Are they poor and unemployed because they didn’t work hard enough? Didn’t believe in themselves enough? No. It’s more complicated than that.

    All too often, we turn these same beliefs and judgements inward upon ourselves, too. No wonder there are so many Americans suffering from anxiety and depression, when what we need is compassion for ourselves and others, along with a healthy measure of emotional resilience, to help us through these difficult times.
    Individual factors certainly play a big role in a person’s life course, but they aren’t the whole story. Everyone has flaws, everyone makes mistakes. That doesn’t mean they somehow deserve to be where they are. Bad things happen even to the best of us. Disease, war, economic collapse, bad/absent mentoring affect us all. Rather than face these truths, sometimes It’s easier to distance ourselves from others and their struggles, because they remind us too much of our own fears/inadequacies.