Valdosta Daily Times

Business

June 9, 2013

College Degrees: Now available with optional shoulder chips

VALDOSTA — The only thing more bitter and jaded than a recent college graduate is a recent graduate with a master’s degree. I don’t blame them. The economy stinks and whoever says it’s getting better probably has a cushy job churning out governmental statistics using the tax money of the over-educated and the underpaid.

I am not so far out of college that I have forgotten the struggle. I thought that a college degree would land me my dream job, and all it did was land me in debt. Sure, eventually I got my dream job, but it took me three years to get here. However, that doesn’t mean that the time between college and my current job was a waste of time. In fact, my time as a news reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times was incredibly valuable; I just wished I had realized it while I was there.

I don’t want to be that adult figure that tells you that eventually it all pays off. My dad killed that line, but in the end (like with most things), he was right. I say all this to contextualize this story:

On Thursday, I overheard a conversation by some recent college graduates who were a mix of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. They were so angry to be “stuck” in their current jobs. They felt that their degrees entitled them to better jobs. They said that they were wasting their time and that they were underpaid and even underappreciated. I just wanted to jump in and tell them my story, but I held my tongue because I too used to be just like them. I think we all were at one point or another.

So, I decided to write this article in hopes to show a brighter side to the bad job that doesn’t pay you enough. Maybe you are already in your dream job, but you can share this story with your child, you niece or nephew, your brother and sister, and even your friend. So, like every week, here are my nuggets of life advice.

• Should you work for free?: In terms of a budget, working for free seems completely illogical. However, in terms of your future financial security, it’s the smartest thing you can do. Many internships don’t pay money, but they are paying you. It’s called experience. An internship is resume gold because it lets a potential employer know that you are independently rather than monetarily driven. It also means you have professional work experience. That is something that no degree and no amount of money can substitute.

• Should you work for less?: Again, this sounds silly. Why work for less when you can work for more? Well, you can’t work for more until you have worked for less. It’s an unfortunate paradigm. When I was at The Times, I wasn’t making the money I needed, period. However, when I began to apply for jobs in Savannah, I found that I was a valuable commodity because of the variety of experience I had gained at my age. There are so many young, recent grads that are in the workforce right now that choose to be bitter about their first jobs instead of embracing them. I embraced my job. I always gave 100 percent. I volunteered for things. I came up with new ideas, and I even did work off the clock just to better myself. I don’t know what it is, but there is this mentality in college that good things come to those who wait. Wrong. Good things come to those who bust their butts and work hard. In fact, if it makes you feel any better, I was a part-time, advertising assistant before I got the news gig. That’s right. I answered phones and filed papers with a degree, but that led to being a journalist and being a journalist led to being able to live in the city I wanted with, the job I wanted, at the pay I wanted.

So, what does all of this have to do with budgeting and personal finance? Well, when it comes to securing your financial future, you have to start somewhere. If you are a recent college grad, you have to realize that your dream job isn’t going to come to you in the blink of an eye. You have to work for it. And if you just got your master’s degree, you have got to knock that chip off your shoulder. I blame social media for the rise of immediacy in everything. People want immediate cause and reaction and that is just not how the world works. Stop complaining, make the best of where you are, and be grateful for the opportunity because I can tell you from experience, nothing ticks off an employer more than some know-it-all young-adult who thinks that they deserve the world without working for it.

Don’t want to listen to me, well, here is a list of the first jobs and internships for some of the world’s most successful people:

• Steve Jobs. Gopher at Hewlett Packard (this means he fetched coffee most of the time).

• Oprah Winfrey. Part-time radio news broadcaster.

• John D. Rockefeller. – Book keeper.

• Andrew Carnegie. Textile laborer.

• Henry Ford. Machinist.

• Michael Dell. Dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant.

• Bill Gates. Spent a summer as a congressional page. He basically delivered messages all day.

• Ursula Burns. Now the CEO of Xerox, she started working at the bottom at Xerox as a mechanical engineer summer intern. In 2009, she became the first African-American woman to head a Fortune 500 company.

• Andrea Jung. Now the CEO of Avon, her first real job was as a summer intern at Bloomingdale’s.

• Steven Speilberg. Started his career in the movie industry as an unpaid, full-time intern at Universal Studios.

That’s all I have for you this week, my dear budgeteers.

Follow me on Twitter @BudgetBrittany and like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrittanyDenneyMcClure

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