I'm 24-years-old and spend many a Saturday night in, with a toddler. No, I'm not a young mom. I'm a young professional, living in Washington, D.C., trying desperately to sustain myself on a diet that involves more than Ramen Noodles. So, in addition to my fulltime job, I nanny.
According to a recent U.S. News and World Report article, "'Modern-day Mary Poppins': College graduates embrace nannying as career," I'm not alone:
Experts say young women ... make up a fast-growing segment of the nanny industry: college graduates who could go into law, medicine or other fields but are choosing to become career nannies, sometimes because they struggled to find jobs in their desired professions. These highly-credentialed child minders are being greeted with open arms into middle-class and upper-class families who want to give their kids an edge in an increasingly competitive world.
While I only nanny on-the-side, there are many would-be professional, young women who have opted to nanny full-time. The motives vary, of course. Some, as noted in the aforementioned article, are at a loss for other options in this increasingly competitive job market. For others, however, nannying is the best option among many.
Take my roommate, for instance. Upon graduating from a top-tier university, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work on Capitol Hill. As any student of Political Science will attest (of which, there are many), landing a job on the Hill, fresh out of college, is intensely competitive. So, suffice it to say, my roommate was, and remains to be, a highly competitive candidate for employment. But, after two years slaving away, earning little more than $30K annually and facing an ever-increasing rent, it became hard for her to justify staying at this low-paying -- albeit coveted -- position.
So, she decided to nanny.
"I'm making much more as a nanny than I was working on the Hill," she proudly admitted. "Not to mention, my quality of life is so much better. I get to play outside with a kid all day and read whatever I want when he naps!"
To be true, my roommate also has plans to attend grad school next year, but the motives for leaving her "respectable" job apply to many: too much work for not enough pay.
In March, the New York Times ran a viral piece exploring the "22-22-22:" a 22-year-old willing to work 22-hour days for $22,000 a year.
D.C. especially is overrun with 22-22-22s -- young ideologues and idealists alike, willing to work for next to nothing in newrooms, non-profits and government agencies, motivated more by their work than their paycheck. But with college tuition and debt at an all-time high, it is becoming harder and harder for even the most motivated of graduates to stomach making so little at otherwise respectable jobs. The flock of recent grads to less prestigious, but more high-paying positions, like nannying, is reason to believe that the 22-22-22 might soon become obsolete.
Indeed, before publishing this article, I sent it to my roommate to make sure she was comfortable with me referencing her. Her response?
"It's not just young women, and it's not just nannies! I just met a dog-walker when playing outside. He's an Army guy who just finished with a big deployment and is now getting his masters in security policy at Georgetown... Oh, and he graduated from Stanford."