I recently read an article called Young, Privileged, and Applying for Food Stamps on thebillfold.com (“everything about money you were too polite to ask”). The author relates how she, a college graduate who lives in Brooklyn, can’t find a media job despite going on countless interviews and having a bunch of internships under her belt.
It was typical of pieces written by recent college grads that crop up on web-only news and culture websites – why can’t I find a job? This is crazy! Nothing in the article stood out in any way, until I read this irony-steeped passage:
“Being young, privileged, and poor is not a fun twenty-something adventure. I’m not one cheeky fourth of Girls. This is not an audition for the Bohemia life before I return to my family’s house in the suburbs, or get a job at a financial firm owned by my father’s friend. I don’t have a family in the suburbs, and my father doesn’t have those friends. Moving in with my mom or dad is less an option than it is a death sentence for my professional life, barely existing as is.”
Her mentioning the hit HBO series Girls and claiming her life isn’t a quirky interlude to the start of her career is ironic because it seems like that’s exactly what she wants it to be. Moving back in with either of her parents would not be a “death sentence” for her professional life. It would be a death sentence for her social life and self-image. I would be more inclined to sympathize with her if she tried looking for jobs outside of one of the most densely populated metropolitan areas in the U.S. She writes as if Brooklyn is the only place she can live.
There are a number of articles and authors who tap this vein that could be picked on, but what it boils down to is this: get out of the city (yes, I’m calling Brooklyn “the city” because I’m from “upstate” New York – deal with it). You shouldn’t be on food stamps. They aren’t for you. The only reason you’re thinking about applying for them (by the end of the article the application is sitting on her desk, filled out but undelivered) is because you want a job where all the action is.
That notion is simply untrue. If you’re looking for a media job in public relations, there are any number of firms and companies that aren’t based in NYC. If you want a job as a reporter, there are a number of listings on journalismjobs.com not in the city. A 24-year-old reporter who writes for the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, PA, just won the Pulitzer Prize.
The truth is that you go where the jobs are, test your mettle, and then go where you want. Yes, there are people who land jobs in the city right after graduating college. But most of those are in the financial sector, not in the media – and for good reason.
Go back to your hometown and help improve the local economy. Move to a city with a less competitive job market. Build your resume. After five or so years, return to the Big Apple if you still want to and are able. But don’t write an article about how you have to apply for food stamps because there are no jobs – it isn’t true. There just aren’t any jobs where you want them to be.