THE BLOG

Underemployed 13 Months

07/21/2010 08:41 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

While there are certainly worse jobs than working at Barnes and Noble, there are far better ones for college graduates. It pains me to admit that, even with a B.A. in English from Michigan State University, the only job I could get is at a corporate bookstore for minimum wage.

In high school, it was my dream to be an actor, musician, painter or writer. However, it was hard for me to picture a successful career as a creative type; I determined that my education could potentially pave the way to a more secure future. After much deliberation, I decided to pursue teaching English.

In my second-to-last semester at Michigan State University, I learned about Teach For America. TFA offered to put me in my own classroom, receive a teacher's salary and become certified all within my first year -- I was sold. After a long application process, TFA finally offered me a position as a high school English teacher in Houston, Texas.

Teach for America was, unfortunately, too good to be true. I ended up leaving the program, going back to the only place I have ever called home: the western suburbs of Detroit.

I began the job hunt by applying to any salaried position around metropolitan Detroit. As my savings account dwindled, my potential employer base expanded. I began applying to places across America. I searched local papers, called numbers on help wanted signs and sent e-mails to friends of friends of friends. I applied to any position that would pay me. I was willing to be a secretary, landscaper, technical writer, factory worker, busboy, etc. Still, I have found that no salaried jobs consider me because I have no experience; no part-time jobs will hire me because they think I'll move on too quickly. I can only get seasonal work and simply because I have friends who are willing to vouch for me.

Working three jobs (at Barnes and Noble, as a background actor in major motion pictures and as a production assistant for MVP Collaborative) leaves little free time, which I typically spend searching for a new job. Even this article was written late at night after work and in the morning over breakfast. My savings account remains stagnant, my current career has no upward mobility and my early twenties seem to be disappearing rapidly.