Wednesday, July 21, 2010

So Many Possibilities, So Few Certainties

I am a 24 year old college graduate. I am single, I am working at the same job I was during school, I have piles of debt from various sources, and I will be moving into my parents’ basement sooner rather than later.

Now that that’s out of the way…

My life is obviously not where I had envisioned it going into college as a bright-eyed 18 year old. So what the hell happened? A lot.

When I applied to go to college, I got into the University of Minnesota’s architecture program, the only school I applied for. Everything seemed so easy. Then I actually went to school.

I was a good, not great, high school student who got by without studying. It turns out that doesn’t work in college. It also turned out I decided architecture wasn’t for me, and ultimately, neither was the Main U anymore.

After I got to UMD, I worked my ass off and earned my Economics degree, even making the Dean’s List once. I finished in December of 2008, and was excited to get into the real world. That’s where things got messy.

In hindsight, my biggest mistake was trying to run my own insurance agency. I didn’t have the money, experience or time to succeed at that and finish school at the same time. I invested a lot of money and didn’t return nearly enough, so I was put in the hole.

Ever since, the worst recession since the Great Depression peaked and hasn’t gone away yet. People with loads more experience than I have are applying for the same careers I am trying to get into. Economics degrees are great in that they are flexible. What sucks about them though is it doesn’t specifically train you for one type of career, the way many others do. When the market is tight, it just doesn’t jump off of the resume to potential employers. At least I have a job. I am very grateful I was able to get my old job back, but it’s simply not enough to pay the bills.

So now what? I apply, apply, apply, and I am still where I started, except that I owe loads more money. This is especially true now that my student loan grace period has passed. My degree hasn’t earned me an extra cent yet, but it’s already costing me hundreds of dollars a month.

The most frustrating part is that I’ve been extremely close to getting hired for jobs that would have allowed me to start paying down a lot of this debt and take a lot of stress out of my life. For various reasons, none of them worked out. I won’t get into the details as far as what and where the jobs were or why I didn’t get them because it really doesn’t matter anymore. The fact I didn’t get them is all that matters at this point.

Getting kicked in the face repeatedly hurts, but it gets numb after awhile. I’m at the point now where I don’t expect things to change anytime soon. I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed yet again.

I realize this hasn’t been the most uplifting piece so far. Still, I am not going to give up on myself. I know I am talented and will eventually be given a chance to prove myself. I just don’t know when. I am down but I am absolutely not out.

The big question now is what’s next? I’ve considered many possibilities, some more plausible than others. I could try to get an MBA or take the CFA. I could go back to school for something completely different. I’ve even kicked around the idea of going back into architecture, but it’s not something I’ve seriously looked into. I really enjoy writing, but I am fairly resigned to the fact it’s something I will do for fun but will probably never make any money doing.

I know this post has been completely about me and probably hasn’t been real entertaining. I wanted to write this for two reasons though. Being able to vent is important, and sometimes typing it on a page is every bit as good as confiding in someone face to face. The other reason is I know I’m not alone. The economy sucks right now. Just getting a college degree doesn’t guarantee you anything, and I absolutely know I’m not the only one struggling with this right now. I guess I just feel like this is identifiable to people in my position. I also think most successful people could see some of themselves in this also. Very few success stories just magically happen. The people who are on top of the mountain worked their asses off to get there. With continued work, I hope I can join them someday.

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