You Wanna Be Startin' Something?
My name is Janet and I still live at home with my parents.
There I've said it.
Actually, to the tell the truth, I've said it before. I never hid it, but after reading some of the comments, something tells me maybe I should have.:(
I admit it, I'm a very sensitive soul. So when I read comments like "You still live at home with your parents?!" I end up feeling like a little girl, which is ironic, considering the situation.
But after feelings of sensitivity wash over me, my next instinct is to come to my own defense. So this post is an attempt to be an explanation to the shock and horror that any of you might have unncessarily experienced after reading this revelation.
I graduated college in 1999 with a degree in Communications. There are people who make jokes of the "you want fries with that?" variety about Communications majors. As it turns out, they are right. Before Communications my major was English but with that I said to myself, what are you really going to do with an English degree, teach?
Yes, I am literally overflowing with ironies.
Truth be told, I always wanted to be a writer. But that's another post for another time. Still I always liked the drive and ambition it came to make it in the cutthroad world of journalism. I wanted to write about what I wanted to write about, when I wanted to write about it. I didn't want to write for writing's sake. Plus I didn't want to work in NYC. So begrudingly, I moved back home while I tried to find a job that utilizied my hard earned degree.
Unfortunately, if you live in Central Jersey and don't want to work in the city, you are extremely limited in the corporate arena. So here I was, fresh out of college with a vague degree that offered few options and a geographical location that only further distilled said options.
So I entered the wonderful world of temping and started temping at the local college. They liked me there. I even made a few friends there. Of course, they were almost all the over 60 retired sort. So when I would apply to full time jobs at the school and not even be considered, the women told me to consider it a blessing in disguise. They assured me a secretary at a community college was no place for a twenty one year old college graduate like myself. Plus, the college was cheap and paid their workers far less than they deserved. But when you added all of these factors up I think that's what made the blow of not getting a job there sting all the more. Suddenly, I wasn't even good enough to turn down jobs that were "beneath me".
After temping for a few months I finally stumbled upon a job at a local insurance agency. My job was in underwriting although I knew nothing about actual underwriting. As it turns out, you didn't have to because everything at this company was made up as it went along.
At first when I got that job, I was ecstatic. Finally a real job that had benefits and allowed me to (semi) use my degree. The starting pay was $22,500, with a raise after 3 months. It's amazing to look back on it now and realize how sad that is. What was even worse was it was the best that offer I had. Seriously.
You know how people who have been in a really shitty situation can diplomatically look back on something and politely refer to it as a learning experience? Well my time at the insurance company was one of those, "a learning experience". I had fun there, despite the fact that I was working for the mob. While I can't prove this, and I certainly didn't know this when I got hired, there are just some things you sense.
What made matters worse was that this was a small, independent company ran by two, self indulgent rich Italian men who gave everything to themselves and nothing to their workers just because they could. In big time corporate America one often wonders who is minding the store. Well, in small time corporate America, this is true tenfold.
A few weeks after working there I began to sense a pattern to the people they hired. The girls in accounting and underwriting were a lot like me: some were college graduates, some weren't. All were hoping for more. But the kicker, all were hired because of their looks.
Once I found that out, things just went from bad to worse. Here I thought I had finally gotten a job on merit alone and as it turned out, it was on my sense of style, among other things. Compounding this was the slow realization that I really didn't need a degree to do what I was doing, AT ALL. They called it underwriting, but really I was just a customer service rep dressed in sheep's clothing.
There was a whole other, seeded underbelly to my time at the insurance company that revolved being part of the token interoffice romance. But again that's another story for another time. All you need to know is that my time there ended because I ended it. My co-worker, and boyfriend, ending it the same exact day.
From there I had a bit of trouble finding another job, but a few months later I stumbled upon a position as a Print Production Assistant at a Marketing/Advertising agency. Initially, I was thrilled to have this job considering my degree was in PR/Advertising and I upped my pay (I think I was up to $27,000 or so) But projects were few and far between there. In fact, I wish I would have had blogging in my life at the time as it would have made clockwatching a lot easier. I was there when September 11th happened and saw the already crawling workload come to a nearly complete stop. Before long, the writing was on the wall. Four and a half months after working there I was part of my first ever layoff.
Back on unemployment once again, I began exploring my options. You might think my story involves a run of bad luck, but most of my friends were in similar situations. Longevity in a career was like finding gold. All of my friends who were in my major in college were doing everything from waitressing to working at a candy store. In fact, my only friends that were happy and in stable professions, were teachers.
So I began hesitantly exploring going back to college. I would get my Master's in about 2 years, if I attended summer classes and worked while I went to school. Still on the fence about it, I accepted a job at a real estate company as the company copywriter. Finally I had a arrived. It was a growing company, offering $28,500 and it was a job involving WRITING!
But after working there a few weeks and comparing my experiences, I realized that corporate America was really a lot of smoke and mirrors. Either that, or this is the reality of the profession and I was just naive to think otherwise. It quickly occured to me that my copywriting, although described as such, would not involve the writing of catchy logo's (although I did and got no credit for them). No. Instead my copywriting was something along the lines of this:
3, bdrm, 2 1/2 bath, EIK, Pergo flooring. Backs to wds. Priced to sell!
I did this. All. Day. Long. I lasted 6 weeks. I was running out of options and graduate school was looking more and more appealing.
I went back to grad school at night for teaching and worked in education during the day for experience (which is also another post for another time because this one is already too damn long). But as those of you who have gotten a degree know, higher education can be damn expensive and a private school (which was the only local option) can be even more expensive. Luckily, my parents helped me out a bit, and the job helped keep me afloat otherwise. I also have always been very fortunate in being a great saver, despite not really having all that much to save.
So there you have it. Most of you didn't ask for it, but there it is anyway. Now you more than you ever needed to know about why a girl like me still kinda, sorta lives off of mommy and daddy.
And just think. All you had to do was not ask.:)