I read an article on Cracked.com by John Cheese – 5 Ways We Ruined the Occupy Wall Street Generation – where he apologized to the Occupy Wall Street Generation for growing up expecting life to be as it was described to us as children:
- Go to college/university – you’ll get a good job.
- Go to college/university – so you won’t have to work at flip burgers or work in a factory
- Go to college/university – so you won’t have to wait tables for a living
I grew up believing that I had to go to post secondary school. That if I didn’t go to University I’d have a miserable, sad, poor life.
However, when I graduated university the only job I could get was a waitress. I had an Honours Bachelor of Commerce and all I was qualified to do was to take an order. The really sad part, I wasn’t very good at taking orders. I was a bad waitress. Serving is hard. Really, really, really hard! So, there I was with all this education accompanied with all this student debt and all these expectations of a life that was seemingly unattainable.
I realized after 6 months of being taken advantage of by my bosses that the only way for me to get a job was to go back to college and find an unpaid internship. Yes, you heard me, an ‘unpaid’ internship. In high school no one ever told me that after my $40K education, I’d have to start my career working for FREE. What’s that all about?
Free gets your foot in the door, but it doesn’t pay your bills. Free doesn’t pay your debt off. Free doesn’t feed you or put clothes on your back. Free does however, get you references.
When I landed my first career, I was offered contract that barely kept me fed. In fact, my first year living in Toronto, I lost 25lbs, went $10K more in debt and had nearly depleted the Bank of Mom and Dad completely. When I was a student, I assumed that the second I graduated I’d be able to cut the proverbial umbilical cord and become independent and totally self-sufficient. Wow, was I a dreamer.
Not only was I unable to cut the cord, it got stronger. The cord was now lined with platinum and encrusted with diamonds to help me get my life started. But this wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to be a grown-up. I was supposed to be able to buy things, go on trips, I was suppose to be able to live a little. No one told me how hard it was going to be. Education was supposed to be my golden ticket. But it wasn’t.
Everyone is educated nowadays. There are thousands of people with the same qualifications. It just doesn’t set you apart anymore. You are one of a very many. And unfortunately it is a mandatory debt that you must experience if you are to even consider applying for a job that one considers to be white collar.
Education is the opportunity that knocks, it’s up to you to open the door.
What I didn’t realize when the older generations said I could be whomever I wanted, was that I’d actually have to work at it. I was a typical entitled Gen Y’er who expected it to be instant and more importantly, I expected it to be easy.
So, after nearly five years of working, I finally had the strength, experience and qualifications to open the door. I was offered a position that made it so I could afford to pay my bills and afford to take another course pursuing my true passion of writing. I just needed to work my butt off. I needed to maintain relationships. I needed to work on who I was. I needed to grow up. Really, I needed to pay my dues like everyone else before me.