I could have saved my parents a lot of money,

if this is what I was going to end up doing.

01 Behind the Bar

‘I'd Rather Do Something, Anything Different’

Katherine has been working as a bartender since graduation. It's the last thing she wants to be doing. The longer she spends behind the bar, the further she feels from her dreams of working in public health. She's starting to lose faith in herself and her future.

Hey, I'm Katherine. I grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts, went to Tufts University and graduated in 2008. After graduation, I spent about six months trying to find work in my area of interest, which is international relations and public health. But there were no jobs.

So, I was encouraged to look for something a little bit different. It seemed as though everyone was encouraging you to spend a few years trying things out, and that's what I did. I moved to New York, spent a year acting and tending bar, and then I spent a year in Argentina, teaching English and bartending on the side. I moved back home with my parents, thinking it was time that I applied myself and really started making things happen, and I began seriously looking for work again. But all I could find was more bartending jobs. So I took one, in Cambridge, and moved into an apartment in the city. That was about two years ago. Since then, I've been stuck.

Okay. It is probably something close to 4 am on August 9th. Just got back from work at the bar. A lot of stuff is happening. And, well, let’s do a little recap here.

So, I am a bartender in Davis Square. Pretty much full time for four years I’ve been doing this. It is exhausting, at times degrading, and not necessarily well paying. I am at a loss, a complete and utter loss of what direction to take, having graduated in 2008 and applying for jobs in one way or another for four years — unsuccessfully, to say the least. I need to change something. Obviously, something isn’t right.

Katherine at work, bartending in Davis Square.

This is going to sound really twisted, but the sun is rising right now. Just trying to enjoy myself and talk with very wonderful, intelligent people who are in similar situations.

Katherine: It’s ... wow ... 4 am in the morning after a thirteen-hour shift.

Patrick: Welcome to the average working week of a 26-year-old postgraduate.

These are my co-workers.

Patrick: I mean, you talk to your parents, you talk to your grandparents — they went to college, they got a job, there were jobs, everybody got hired.


say they are overqualified for their job

Patrick: Colin, did you go to college?

Colin: Yes, I did.

Patrick: Where did you go?

Colin: Northeastern University.

Patrick: And what did you study?

Colin: Business, management, and finance.

Patrick: And what's your current occupation?

Colin: Bartender.

Katherine: I didn’t need to go to school to be a bartender and that’s what I do. Just saying, I've been doing it since I graduated and I could have saved my parents a lot of money if this is what I was going to end up doing for so long.

Patrick: That’s the whole thing. You go to college for four years, to graduate, to get a job. You know, everything that I was raised to believe in turned out to be a lie. Trying to think about, oh, when am I going to have a family, when am I going to have a car, when am I going to have a house? Oh, by my math? By the time I’m 58.

My lease ends in September, September 1st — that would be in about three weeks — so I did not feel comfortable signing a lease for another year just so that I can continue bartending so that I can make money so that I can pay the rent to live in a city so that I can bartend. It’s a cycle that I felt a need to break. We shall see.

Here we are at home having a family dinner, soon to become a probably very common event. I'm going to inevitably be moving back in the coming weeks.

Mom: You may come home temporarily, but I am sure that by September you will be gone. So we will be moving you in and out very quickly.

Katherine: I like that positivity, mom.

Mom: Katherine, did you send another email to Mr. Tallett?

Katherine: Yes, mother.

Mom: Because I ran into him, he and his wife were in the car, and he pulled over to talk to me to say that they have so many jobs at In Bev and all you have to do is —

Dad: Be persistent.

Mom: Be persistent and email him every week.

This is yet another one of my mother’s very thoughtful, yet, not by any fault of her own, ultimately fruitless endeavors to try to get me a position.

Mom: Who’s given you more connections than your mother?

Katherine: In fact I did send an email to Mr. Bob Tallett and he did email me back yesterday saying, “Thank you for your email, I will keep you in mind.”

This is the fourth time this has happened.

After the tenth interview that didn’t result in a job, maybe, with very little feedback or understanding of why, I find myself at a loss as to how to change my circumstances. I mean, I do, I get these interviews all the time. I had one yesterday, I have one on Monday. Every month for varying positions, but I get them. And oftentimes I get a second one, but then maybe it ends. Maybe I make it to a third.

Why did I not get the job? I have gotten so many conflicting answers that I don’t really know how to make sense of it. I’ve been told alternatively that I have too much experience and that I don’t have enough. Don’t really know where to go from there.

When you get told that you’re not good enough, repeatedly, you can’t help but begin to believe it.

Regina: Nowadays, you can’t just go to college.

My aunt Regina is here.

Regina: You have to go for a master’s. It’s like, almost everybody’s graduating with a college degree, so if everybody’s got a college degree, how do you differentiate yourself from the way it was a generation ago?

Mom: Experience. Personality and drive. Just because everybody’s got a degree doesn’t make them equal.


say they aren't doing what they expected at this point in their life

Katherine: No, Reg, I get what you’re saying and I completely agree with you, in a way. Now, it’s not just to differentiate yourself — it’s to get on equal playing fields, you need to get a degree.

Regina: Yes, exactly.

Katherine: Then you do the personality, and the experience, and your unique background — whatever. But you’re not even being considered as part of the game if you don’t have your master’s.

Regina: Not in this generation.

Katherine: I didn’t realize that, when you get out of college, you should be going back into school again. Because most of my successful friends have done that, or they already had jobs set up for them upon graduation from internships they’d formerly done.

Mom: A few years ago, we were encouraging people — “You don’t have to get a job right away, go ahead, try acting for a while, go off and see the world.” And when you came back, the economy had tanked.

Katherine: I went away because the economy had tanked. That was why I made those decisions.

Dad: Yes, that was a big factor.

Katherine: The reason that I decided to go and start acting, the reason I went to Argentina, is because I could not find a job.

Mom: All I think is it's delayed things for you.

Katherine: I know.

They hate the fact that I’m a bartender, they hate it. My mom just wants me to quit and just move home and just deal it with then. She doesn’t have a longer-term plan than that. She’s got a lot of faith, she’s particularly religious, and she thinks that things will always work out for the best and if I have faith, things are going to work out.

And that’s great, but, you know, you've got to do something about it.

"I could have saved my parents a lot of money, if this is what I was going to end up doing for so long."

They tell you, you know, you go to school, you do well — I went to a good university, I graduated on time with good grades, with strong academics, strong qualifications — and they tell you that’s enough. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t. I just didn’t realize how the system worked. Now I do, and now I don’t know what to do about it because I’ve lost so many years that every day it’s more difficult, because the system favors people who just graduated, for example, or people who are currently in school.

It makes you second guess everything you thought you knew about yourself. When you get told that you’re not good enough, repeatedly, you can’t help but begin to believe it. And I think that can be the most debilitating thing to people in my circumstance. You know, they say that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, sometimes I think I’m crazy. Because that’s exactly what I’m doing. I don’t know what else to do.

Keep Reading
Kat works the bar at Saloon in Davis Square

Meet Katherine

At 26 years old, the breaking point has come and it's time to make a change.

Portrait of Kat Round

Behind the Bar

Bartending has proven to be a mentally and physically exhausting job.


Meet Kat


Behind the Bar


Concerned Parents

My parents, they would say that it is not my fault, if you were to ask them. They would say that I try hard.

I mean, every time I don’t get a job, my mom is like, "Are you kidding me?" - you know - "you’re perfect for the job, this is nuts." She’s like, "I can’t believe it, they’re crazy, they’re crazy." She doesn’t think it’s my fault when it comes down to it; she knows how hard I work.

But they also want to … it’s out of their hands and it hurts them to see me in this position, so the only thing that they know how to do really is to sort of keep pushing me.

So I do get a lot of reminder emails and phone calls, like, "Hey, did you apply to a job today?" Like, "Make sure you write that email to Bob." You know, "Make sure you follow up with Cindy, I’ve got this network connection for you, make sure you follow up."

It’s just a lot of constantly calling and emailing and telling me to be doing this and that. And I know that they’re very well intentioned about it, but sometimes it’s like, "I know. That's what I do. What do you think I’m doing?" You know? But they just want to make sure that I exhaust all of my options.

So, I think that they know that I'm trying hard, encourage me to try harder, but recognize that it is not easy.


It is exhausting, at times degrading,

and not necessarily well-paying

02 Returning Home

‘Is There Something Wrong With Me?’

Katherine can no longer justify her lifestyle: earning money to pay the rent to keep working a dead-end job. So she is moving home — the second time since graduation. Meanwhile, she is thinking of joining AmeriCorps. It's a volunteer position, with food stamps, but she is desperate to get on track.

Oh my god. I have to move home again? I already did this. I lived at home for over a year. But I just knew that it was pointless for me to stay in the city. I’d have to sign a lease for another year and then I’d be stuck in Boston for another year and obviously there were no opportunities presenting themselves. So I made this decision fully aware that in all likelihood I was going to end up moving home without a job or any other opportunities.

I could not in good conscience do anything else. I couldn’t keep paying absurd amounts of rent that I needed to work a stupid job that was getting me nowhere.

My parents, they would say that it is not my fault if you were to ask them. They would say that I try hard. They recognize that it is not easy. I mean, every time I don’t get a job my mom is like, “Are you kidding me? You’re perfect for the job, this is nuts.”

But it is out of their hands and it hurts them to see me in this position, so the only thing that they know how to do really is to keep pushing me. So I do get a lot of them telling me to be doing this and that and I know that they’re very well intentioned about it, but sometimes it’s like, “I know. What do you think I’m doing?”

Katherine moves back home for the second time since graduation.

Mom: I'm just glad she's not working as a bartender anymore. I thought that was a very hard job. Very unhealthy. She was doing it for too long.

My family is having dinner at home on the North Shore.


live at home with their parents

Kat: So, I've applied to about nine positions now through AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps, the way I understand it, is a networking site that allows nonprofits to recruit employees that work on the government dime. They don't have to pay for them because the government pays us about a thousand dollars a month.

Jay: How come the government is allowed to pay below minimum wage?

This is my brother Jay.

Kat: It's volunteer work, technically. It's paid volunteer work, I think.

Jay: So, volunteer internships for people who are 26.

Mom: Just like all the internships, which I really resent because I think people take advantage of a tough situation and take advantage of young people.

What's another eleven months, so long as it's doing something that's not bartending?

I applied to AmeriCorps because I thought, "well, I need to change something." I can't keep applying to jobs online or networking through the most tenuous of connections.

And I actually on Tuesday was contacted by a young lady based in the Red Cross chapter out in the Bay Area. I had a sort of impromptu interview at 6:30 on Tuesday, half English, half Spanish - the position would require me to speak Spanish. And, at the end of the interview, I was informed that they would like to continue the interviews and they would be making a decision by Friday. Friday.

So, we'll see how things go tomorrow. I've got multiple phone interviews and Skype interviews, but I think that I am the ideal candidate for this position. Fortunately I think that they realize that because, on the phone, she did say, verbatim, “I would like to offer you this job.” I’ve been waiting four years to hear those words.

This is the closest I have come to anything resembling a formal professional opportunity in a very long time.

Katherine put in her notice at the bar without a plan for what would come next.

Dad: I'm curious about this telephone interview you're going to have, I guess, tomorrow or whenever. I mean, they seem to be interested.

Kat: Yes. I would be very confused if they did not get back to me about this position. I told you, one of the women that I spoke with, she more or less informally said, "I would like to offer you the position." It wasn't within her power to do so at the moment, but I think they're stuck between such a rock and a hard place that they know I'm their only viable candidate and they're going to give it to me.

Mom: Well, I'm hoping that you get a really well-paid position before you have to sign a contract.

Kat: Listen, they're making their decision by August 20th.

Mom: Oh my goodness.

Kat: I thought that I could get into it easier than I could get another job. You don't have to have a specific skillset, you just have to be willing to work for very small pay anywhere in the country for an extended period of time. I am willing to do that.

Mom: You described a lot of people your age.

Dad: There are a lot of people that at this point are willing to do that.

It took me two years to get to the point where I felt AmeriCorps was my only choice. My family doesn't support it because they think it's just another year that I'm putting off starting a career. I already have such a big gap. What's another eleven months so long as it's doing something that's not bartending, which I can't put on my resume?

Kat: I don't know what else to do. I don't. I don't know what else to do.

Mom: No, none of us do. We just have to put one step in front of the other.

I don't know what else to do.

It's Friday, August 17th. I got some news today. So, it’s actually kind of funny because last night I was talking with my girlfriends about, just, what if I didn’t get it? I wonder what my reaction would be, I don’t even know how I would react. Because you get rejected so many times, what do you do? Do you start going crazy or do you start going numb?


do not believe they will end up in a better economic position than their parents

This afternoon I had the opportunity to find out when they called me and rejected me. It turns out it’s a little bit of both but mostly just acceptance. It’s almost funny, it’s like, of course that’s what happened. Of course. I don’t know. I don’t really know what to say because I’m just so lost. I mean, Christ, I was going to be working for a thousand dollars a month. You can’t even get volunteer work Kat. What is going on? Hmm? My sister’s theory is that I must have murdered somebody in a past life.

Anyway, signing out for now. Hopefully something good is going to happen soon.

Keep Reading
Kat and her father move a dresser

Moving Home

This is the second time that she has made the trip back home since graduation.


Talking It Out

Kat: I don’t know what I’m going to do, Linds.

It’s like, I don’t have a choice. I can’t renew a lease for a two-bedroom apartment. My roommate moved out and she found a different place, so I’d have to find another roommate to sign a lease for another year. And then, who knows, like, if I got opportunity, I’d be stuck there, I’d have to find a subletter.

Lindsay: Oh my god, that's terrible.

Kat: So, I’ve pretty much put myself in a situation where it’s either do or die. I’m moving back September 1st, all of my stuff is going back into storage in my house, which I’m really grateful that my parents are willing to do. Not that they would ever say no; I know it’s frustrating for them because this keeps happening.

Lindsay: My parents feel the same way, it’s like, “obviously you can’t stand on your own two feet after college, because you have loans, you only have a part-time job, you want to get a master's. Like, of course we’re going to let you back in.” And I’m fortunate, but at the same time, it is frustrating. It’s ridiculous.

Kat: It’s embarrassing, you know, it’s like I’m 26 years old. I mean, we’re from a very small town, you know, so even just walking around, it’s a little bit like, “Hey, Katherine, how are you?” You know, like, “I thought that you graduated from school four years ago. Why are you still living here?” So …

I thought that by moving to Cambridge it would be a better idea — you know, I’d be more exposed; I’d make more connections; maybe it would light a fire under my butt, so to speak, to find jobs. And it has, but I don't think that’s my problem. I don’t think that I need to apply to more jobs.

You know, I mean, I have two days off a week and I spend those two days applying to jobs. That’s what I do. You know, I’m exhausted, I work 12 hours a day, if I work four days a week, it’s fifty hours. I mean, being a bartender yourself, god, how exhausted are you? I want to sleep for twelve hours, and then I want to do three loads of laundry, and then I’m going to apply to several jobs that I’ll probably never hear from.

Lindsay: And you know what’s funny is, like, I’m sure you’ve had this experience, when you’re working and you tell people your plans for the future and, like, where you want to work and what you want to do, and they’re like, “that’s great, that’s awesome.” But there’s that stigma of bartending or working late nights somewhere. I’ve been trying to, like, fit this somehow in my resume, like “great interpersonal skills” ...

Kat: "Multi-tasking!"

Lindsay: “Great multi-tasker.”

Kat: “Working under pressure.”

Lindsay: “Great manager.” Right. You know what I mean? So, it’s hard when you try to put yourself out there, how else are you supposed to make money and make a living?

Kat: Honestly, and I just feel like I’ve spent the past four years of my life in some respect doing this. You look at my resume and it’s a freaking four-year gap because every time I say this in an interview, their eyes sort of, maybe, glaze over or they just sort of roll a little bit or they’re just like, “Right, moving on. But, like, what other experience — tell me about your experience in a leadership position. Tell me about your experience handling difficult customers. Tell me about your salesmanship skills.” And this is what I have, but they’re like, “No, no, outside of bartending.”

Lindsay: Like, no, no, no, that’s bartending.

Kat: That’s what I have.

Lindsay: That’s what it encompasses.

Kat: So I’m trying to get this AmeriCorps position, right, so I’ve applied to like — you actually have a maximum of ten that you can apply to at a time, and I’ve reached that maximum, and I’ve only heard from one. So I’ve sent emails or given phone calls to all of the other nine of them, and three of them have gotten back to me saying they filled their positions already.

So, all everybody seems to be doing now, I look at people, they’re like, “well, if you can’t get a job” — I’ve heard this from so many different mouths — “why don’t you go back to school?” And that’s something that’s occurred to me, I’m applying to positions where they’re described as BA preferred, right? You know, zero to two years experience, and I’m not getting these positions because, and I know this for a fact —

Lindsay: They have to pay you more.

Kat: Well they don’t have to. They’re going to people that just recently got their master’s. People with master’s are applying to jobs that I feel like I’m even overqualified for at this point in my life. So if they can choose somebody who recently has a master’s in public health to work as an admin assistant, you know, in the Harvard Medical School, why would they choose someone who has an undergrad degree and four years of experience behind a bar?

Lindsay: Yeah...

Kat: Even though I might be a better fit. You know? I’m working so hard to try and get my foot in the door in a job that, at the end of the day, I might hate.

Lindsay: Right. That’s so scary, too.

Kat: So I feel like, I’m doing AmeriCorps, and it’s just something else for me to do. I don’t know, it’s just another step, it’s still not a job. You know? It’s paid volunteering.

Lindsay: And it’s almost like you have to take that sacrifice to make it look good on paper. You know?

Kat: And I claim full responsibility for the decisions that I have made since graduation, for the decisions that I made while I was an undergraduate, for how I ended up where I am. That being said, I also claim full responsibility for the opportunities I have pursued, you know, doggedly, for the jobs I’ve applied to, for the interviews that I have aced, for the connections that I have made. And yet, that hasn’t come to any fruition.

I feel like, for all of my efforts and decisions, only the negative ones count.


Moving Home


Getting the News

Okay, it is — actually I have no idea what day of the week it is. Right, so it’s Friday, August 17th.

Just a little update here. Got some news today. So I’ve been really waiting on the San Francisco position through the Red Cross. Was pretty excited about it, they pretty much informally gave it to me, it was just about as good as done, they just wanted to make sure that the CEO was okay with it and liked me, right? But they didn’t think it was going to be a problem.

So, it’s actually kind of funny because last night I was talking with my girlfriends about, you know, this position and, just, what if I didn’t get it? I mean, I know that it was pretty much set, just it wasn’t in stone, but I’d pretty much gotten it, but what if I didn’t get it? I was like, “I wonder what my reaction would be, I don’t even know how I would react.” Because you get rejected so many times, over and over again, you know, what do you do? Do you start going crazy or do you start going numb?

And this afternoon I had the opportunity to find out when they called me and rejected me. And it turns out, it’s a little bit of both, but mostly just acceptance. Yeah.

I don’t know, I guess I’m just rambling now, I don’t really know what to say because I’m just so lost. It’s almost funny, it’s like, of course that’s what happened. Of course.

It’s just, I came so close to getting a position that was so fitting and actually really germane to my interests and skill set and in a city I really wanted to be in where I have a good community already so I wouldn’t be all alone. And, I mean, Christ, I was going to be working for a thousand dollars a month. You can’t even get stipended volunteer work, Kat, where have we lost our way? What is going on? Hmm?

I don’t know. You know it’s interesting, you know, I get these rejections, you just keep going. What are you doing to do? But every time I get one, I think, “okay,” you know, “I can absorb this, it’s making me stronger, it’s — quote — building character,” which is probably not something I necessarily need at this point. It’s like, "got it, got enough character, I think I’m strong enough, maybe I could catch a break here or there."

But every time I get one of these rejections I’m like, “okay, because something really awesome is going to happen at the end of it, right?” Like, there’s a reason I’m not getting these positions, because I’m being punished until I get something really awesome and I know that, you know, that’s a foolish way to think, but it’s a mindset that really is, really, what’s keeping me together.


You get rejected so many times.

What do you do? Do you start going crazy?

Or do you start going numb?

03 New Reality

That World Doesn’t Exist

Katherine is increasingly serious about joining AmeriCorps, which is not sitting well with her parents. As an opportunity emerges in New Orleans, she has to decide: Is it better to play it safe or is it time to do something drastic and take the first real chance she’s had to move forward?

Things have turned around a little bit. I've been offered a position through AmeriCorps in New Orleans. So, this is happening. It’s a good thing, obviously, but I’m not as excited about it as I thought I would be, probably because it essentially took my joining a government-sponsored program to get paid five dollars an hour. But, it’s the opportunity I had.

My family doesn't support it. They think it’s just another year that I’m putting off starting a career. I’ve talked to them about it - what the heck am I supposed to do? If I don’t do this, what, you seriously just want me to live at home again? I already did that, I already lived at home for a year. I’ve been offered an opportunity to do something and I’m not going to turn it down just because something better might come along. Because it’s been two years and nothing better has come along.

Kat back home at her parents' house. "It's embarrassing to the extreme."

I'm sitting down with my parents to let them know about my decision.

Mom: Tell us the news.

Dad: Tell us the news.

Katherine: All right, family - mother, father - it’s been two years, and I just got an offer from AmeriCorps to live at the poverty line. How do you feel about that?


say the first job they took out of college turned into a career

Dad: To live at the poverty line!

Katherine: A thousand dollars a month.

Mom: I was hoping you would get the one in San Francisco - although I know it’s very expensive, at least it’s a nice place to live.

Katherine: I expected more from you. How about, “Congratulations, you’ve been looking for a job for two years."

Dad: We're in shock.

Mom: We’re in shock. It depends on the job. What is the job?

Katherine: Community health. It’s called the Louisiana Community Health Corps and they work through what’s called a federally qualified health center - FQHC.

Because I put myself in a desperate situation, I was going to make desperate decisions.

Mom: Okay. It's only eleven months.

Katherine: Go ahead, say it. Say your line.

Mom: You can do anything for a year. Except hold your breath.

We’ll drive you down.

Dad: It's a ways.

Mom: Two days.

Dad: Louisiana! You're going to have to work on your drawl.

Katherine: I was going to say, I’m going to have to slow down my speech.

Dad: Well, all I can say is, what a long strange trip it’s been.

"I'm really, really ready to go. I’ve been here for two years."

On the road with my mom, making the long drive to New Orleans.

Mom: This has been a good road trip, but I am very eager to get out of this car.

Katherine: Permanently.


say college helped their career

Mom: It's a little tight. I'm so curious to see what your neighborhood is like, what your roommates are like ...

Katherine: Yeah, I know, right?

Mom: So, are you nervous?

Katherine: I'm not really thinking about it, I've been focusing on just getting there.

Mom: Yeah, that makes sense.

You have to be willing to adjust your expectations.

The truth of the situation is, yes, I do have a job, but it’s a stipended volunteership. I was moving home with no job and no plan - I was pretty much grasping at straws. Like, whatever opportunity presented itself. Because I put myself in a desperate situation, I was going to make desperate decisions.

There is this sense of entitlement when you graduate from, like, Tufts University. You think, it’s a really good school, people must want to hire me. And then you realize there are freaking thousands of me out there, with the same mindset and the same kind of mediocre credentials, when you look at it in the wider picture.

People aren’t going to hand you stuff. They're not just going to be like, “Oh, you went to college? Here’s a job.” Everybody went to college. Everybody is in debt. You know, everybody’s got skills that are becoming obsolete. Yeah, I’m really good at Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. I have communication skills. Everybody has that. What do you have that’s different? What’s going to make you stand out? For me, I used to think it was Spanish. Like, everybody speaks Spanish! It is going to overtake English in the next ten years. It’s not that special.

So, I looked at it like, okay, what makes me unique is my willingness to adapt, to move to New Orleans within a month’s notice. You have to be willing to adjust your expectations. You’re not going to get handed anything. I think this is a great opportunity, it's the right thing for me to do, given the lack of other options.

Well hello. This is my first diary since my arrival to New Orleans and I have been here for over two weeks at this point.

I am the community outreach coordinator for the New Orleans East Louisiana Community Health Center. It's a bit of a tragic story, the location where I work was an area of New Orleans that was particularly affected by Katrina. Before Katrina there were two operating hospitals in that part of the city and neither of those hospitals are operating at this point. Both are abandoned.

What I do is essentially reach out to these communities. And that's what I've been doing, and I think I've been doing a good job of it - I've already created several informative brochures and I've organized mass mailings, I've made meetings with local community leaders. So it's not the most dynamic environment, to be fair, it's a tiny clinic, I work in a pieced together kind of warehouse style building, sitting in a foldable chair, in front of a foldable table, at a laptop. But I feel good about it. I did apply for food stamps the other day. But I can certainly do it for a year.

It's better than bartending.

Keep Reading
Kat's family shares dinner and a laugh around the table

Family Matters

Katherine talks to her parents about the past couple years and their take on her situation.

A boat on the water near Kat's hometown, Manchester-By-The-Sea

Finding A Job

Having a plan for what's next means finally being able to relax and enjoy the moment.

A boat on the water near Kat's hometown, Manchester-By-The-Sea

New Orleans

After a couple weeks in Louisiana, Katherine's life has already changed dramatically.


Family Matters

Kat: So I’m sitting down at the kitchen table talking with my parents; it’s my last night before I leave on a road trip to New Orleans with my mom. So, before I leave, I guess I just wanted to ask you a couple questions about what it’s been like having me be here for the past two years. Do you think that in all those years that there's something that maybe I should have done differently?

Mom: Well, you know what I’ve just got to discover recently that you have been in a very normal trend. I’ve been talking to so many people and their kids are in the same situation.

Dad: This is the new normal.

Mom: That’s right.

Dad: I mean, we had choices a generation ago. Today, I don’t think you have those choices. It’s much harder to say to follow a straight path. And so maybe you get pushed into, “Well, let’s try this for a year and let’s try that for a year.” Not because it’s a choice but because, “You know what, I wanted to have a straight and narrow, and it’s so hard, well, I might as well do this."

But I think people kind of get backed into it and say, “All right, the opportunity to establish a career in what I think is my career field is not happening right now, so I’ll see what happens a year from now.”

Kat: Do you think that my generation expects too much?

Dad: I don’t think there’s so much a sense of entitlement. If anything, maybe it’s our generation, the Baby Boomer generation.

Mom: Who thought their kids were entitled to something.

Dad: But I don’t think that the kids in their twenties today feel that they’re entitled.

Kat: All right guys, thank you.


Finding a Job


New Orleans

I am in my new bedroom in my new house. I arrived on, what, the 22nd or something, and today is the 11th, so I've been here for a bit. I live in quite an interesting part of New Orleans, actually, I'm on the West Bank, which is not what people usually think of as being New Orleans. I mean, obviously the Mississippi River runs right through it and it's quite a narrow river so I'm on the other side of the river.

There's a ferry I can take that drops me off right in the French Quarter and I am about two blocks from the ferry and those are very small blocks. So it's less than ten minutes for me to just get to the French Quarter for free on foot, and that's awesome. And my landlord is amazing, he's actually the jazz pianist on the Nat Jazz Cruise Boat, which is a very quintessential New Orleans cruise you can take up and down the Mississippi every evening, so that's kind of funny and he's a very sweet gentleman.

So, as you know at this point, I'm doing AmeriCorps. I am the community outreach coordinator for the New Orleans East Louisiana Community Health Center. They have been established for the past four years; they provide primary care services to underserved populations that do not have access to primary health care. It's, from where I live, about a half-hour drive, depending on traffic, and it is far removed from the center of town. You see buildings that have been abandoned and serve no function - their owners fled after Katrina and never came back. So, where I work was an area of New Orleans that was particularly affected by Katrina. Before Katrina, there were two operating hospitals in that part of the city and neither of those hospitals are operating at this point. Both are abandoned. I saw one the other day and it's completely abandoned - signs are falling off, it's an enormous hospital, and the "H" and "O" is missing.

I would recommend AmeriCorps because I'm working in a health center and I'm providing services.

The populations that I deal with are 47 percent Vietnamese, 43 percent African American, 7 percent Hispanic, and the rest of the population is Caucasian. I was hired to be their community outreach coordinator and they wanted me because I speak Spanish, which is great, although I am finding that they probably should have hired someone who speaks Vietnamese because that is more of a roadblock than anything else - I have yet to use my Spanish. Anyway, what I do is essentially reach out to these communities. You know, they had absolutely no PR or marketing materials. They had no contact with other organizations in the area, no contact with other businesses, no contact with business leaders, with town councils. Tomorrow is Saturday and from 10 to 6 I'm supposed to be present at a business expo for New Orleans East - because we are a nonprofit they are going to give us a table that we can set up and just hand stuff out.

I feel good about it. So it's good. At least I'm doing something that interests me, that I feel like is relevant to my long-term goals. I don't know if I necessarily want to do this forever, but I can certainly do it for a year.


I put myself in a desperate situation,

I was going to make desperate decisions.