2009 Graduate Living Through an Obama Presidency

July 14, 2012

Unemployment was on it’s way up when Barack Obama got in office, it’s true.  He’s not responsible for what he inherited as president.  Unemployment was at about 7.7, and hasn’t dropped below 8% since he has been president. I’m one of the 45 percent – 45% of graduates from 2009 or later who are either unemployed or are working less than full-time in a job that doesn’t require a degree.

Since my graduation in 2009 from a highly ranked business school, I haven’t been able to find long-term stable employment in my field. I have a wife and three small children (one with type-1 diabetes). To try to make ends meet, I have worked the following ways:

+ Seasonally at the airport loading boxes on UPS airplanes from October to January from 3-9 AM for minimum wage
+ At a thrift store for three months until I got my internships (woohoo!)
+ At a FAS internship at a private regional healthcare office for three months
+ At an additional three-month Report Analyst internship at the same company (with an additional 1-month extension as we held out for an opening to come by that never did)
+ A temporary assignment as an accounting/finance report analyst that lasted four months
+ IT consulting and support work through CraigsList ads
+ Cleaning leaves out of rain gutters in the early winter
+ Some construction/remodeling work, etc.

People who have been employed all this time don’t get what it’s like to feel guilty every time you take a bite of food because you might be robbing your children of tomorrow’s meal.

You don’t know what it’s like to see someone playing on their iPhone or iPad – texting how wrong it is for Mitt Romney to be rich – all while the iPhone owner’s own unessential monthly plan with unlimited Internet and texting could have paid for my family’s meals for the entire month or could have helped my neighbor to keep their apartment. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate people for owning toys and frivolous tools, but their hatred towards other people who are more monetarily fortunate than themselves seems a little two-faced or, at minimum, lacking perspective.

And it hasn’t been the government that has come through for us in these hard times (except for to provide my kid’s insulin) – it has been the local church helping with rent or providing meals, and businesses like grocery stores who donate dented-can, open-box or label-less food; it has been neighbors anonymously paying a portion of our rent; and it has been people sharing vegetables from their gardens that have carried us through the past 3 1/2 years of Barack Obama’s term.

We have even been the object of a sub-for-Santa project, have had people behind us help pay for our groceries, and have had a Mormon neighbor cut a tree out of his yard so that we could have a Christmas tree. We’ve had extended family members donate their kids’ outgrown clothes to us. We’re so grateful for their generosity, kindness, and charity. You might say that you’ll never accept charity – but I bet you would if  you’d literally die without it (or your kids would).

It’s very tough on my self-esteem to not have the means to completely provide for my family – not even basic necessities sometimes. And receiving rejection after rejection and job-posting cancelation after job-posting cancelation makes me wonder if I’m actually looking for a job or if I’m just abusing myself emotionally. When you put your best out there for a potential employer time after time only to have it rejected constantly, it get’s tougher to keep giving it your best – all for a nearly guaranteed punishment.

If you fail at a job, you might be able to win at another job; however, if you suck at interviews or applying, it doesn’t matter how good you are at anything else. This economy stinks, and I’m ready for our new president to step into office in January.