Young, Multi-Employed, And Looking for Full-time Work in San Francisco

I recently returned to my parents’ house in Urbana, Illinois, where I moved after failing—for nearly three years—to find full-time employment in San Francisco. I had no trouble finding cafe jobs, or unpaid internships, for that matter. Freelance writing (emphasis on the “free”), too, was generally readily available. But editorial assistant jobs, content managing positions, entry-level admin jobs at non-profits? No luck. I have records of applying to over 150 opportunities. After a while, throwing out carefully tailored cover letters and resumes felt akin to hurling a grappling hook out into the middle of the night. Responses were so rare that even their apologetic phrases—”we regret,” “better-suited,” “best of luck,” were slightly comforting. At least the grappling hook had clanked against some dark specter of a job out there.

The evidence of my long hunt is almost laughable, and, laughter, I think, is far preferable to self-pity. I have saved a copy of each altered resume (LucySchillerResume.docx; SchillerLucyResume.docx; Lucy-Schiller-Resume.docx; GOODBASICRESUMEGOODLUCKANDGODSPEED.docx). I still find applications I don’t even remember constructing—mostly to jobs so far from my interests they serve as excellent floodmarkers of my increasingly desperate tide. Bookmobile driver through rural Vermont. Sephora copywriter. Fair trade certification assistant. Administrative assistant for a taxidermist. A member of the “Flight Staff” at an indoor trampoline park.

It has always been hard to be a young person looking for work. The Economic Policy Institute reminds us that people under age 25 have historically experienced around double the general unemployment rate. This means, though, that when something like the Great Recession hits, we experience a disproportionally high rate of joblessness. I approached the task of finding a job with true energy and excitement, and struggled to maintain that passion for three years. It began to feel like a fevered and foolish grasping.

I look at my friends and I see more of the same. Many of us still live at home, or have recently returned there, welcomed by generous parents. Many of us have three or four jobs at once. Many of us are taking refuge in graduate school. A great number of us are operating under the diminishing delusion that the unpaid commitments we can barely afford to take will turn into the jobs we once dreamed of having. For me personally, the last few years have been characterized by the slow realization that although I was working incredibly hard, something larger wasn’t.

The word that comes up over and over again when I talk to people in similar situations is “hustling.” The term has a suggestion of the underhanded, and I think that’s actually fairly apt: because we can’t subscribe to the typical forty-hour workweek, we construct almost subversive amalgams of part-time employment. It’s impossible to say what we do. I remember struggling a lot with this. “I write,” I’d say, grimacing slightly, “which means that I make coffee. And work at a farmers’ market. And intern, and I just started at a new restaurant.”

Sadie Scheffer, founder of the gluten-free bakery Bread SRSLY, might well be termed a hustler supreme. Sadie dropped out of mechanical engineering at MIT in 2009 to followed a serious crush to San Francisco. She converted her sublease into a sewing studio and began crafting bicycle clothing, which she sold to a shop in the Mission District. She picked up other gigs–”spraying glitter on giant tigers” as a float builder for the Chinese New Year parade, working at Blue Bottle Coffee Company, probably the most prestigious barista job possible. And Sadie cooked, quite a bit, in hopes that food would provide a tunnel into her intended’s heart. When it turned out that he was gluten-intolerant, Sadie tweaked her strategy, and ended up with gentle-on-the-belly sourdough starter, her own business, and a relationship. SRSLY.

Sadie stands out among my friends for the relative success of her efforts. From an email in July 2011 that she sent out to everyone she could think of, Bread SRSLY was born. Since the beginning, she has bicycled all over San Francisco delivering her loaves and the sandwiches they’ve engendered. Also since the beginning, she has been severely sleep-deprived. When I briefly hawked her gluten-free goods at a farmers’ market, Sadie paid me generously in cash as well as bartered produce, and I always felt terrible: she couldn’t have been making any more than I was, and she was doing probably thirty times the work. But Bread SRSLY is starting to make sense, says Sadie. Not only has she hired a baker, but last week, that baker got a raise.

There are many stories, though, involving about the same amount of work as Sadie’s but without any visible payoff. A close college friend—she asked not to be named—recently returned to her mother’s house in Berkeley after working in France and then Kansas City. Back home, she realized that jobs she imagined to be “in the bag” were totally out of reach. Having managed numerous farmers’ markets in Kansas City, she applied for a job at an information booth at one Berkeley market. She never heard anything.

This is not surprising to anyone, ever, who attempted to ford the murky river of the hiring process. So this friend kept applying everywhere she could think of, including to a nearby restaurant, assuming that with several years of serving experience and her familiar neighborhood face she was sure to get at least an interview. After a few weeks, the manager asked to speak to her, then brushed her aside: he was too busy for a full-length conversation. But he found time at 10 am on Presidents Day to call her out of the blue for an immediate trial shift bussing plates. “We can see if your instincts are a good fit,” she remembers him saying. She worked what turned out to be a supremely busy morning at the restaurant, and was then called upstairs, where she was told that she lacked the smile they were looking for. The manager handed her twelve dollars.

“I felt really used,” she says. “It was a shit job. He could afford to not give me a real chance, because he knew that someone grinning ear-to-ear could walk in the next day.”

This friend now is working forty hours a week. Those forty hours are split between five regular commitments—tutoring, babysitting, catering, and two volunteer positions. She also supplements her income with odd jobs: working as a typist, staffing estate sales, creating “artistic rock arrangements,” and helping at a family friend’s landscaping business. Even her unpaid positions, she says, were hard to come by. One interviewer asked her to imagine herself as a kitchen implement and then explain why, of all things, a whisk. She has given up, for the most part, applying to urban farming initiatives, whose unpaid internships and “allyships” are, she says, incredibly competitive.

“I felt manic,” she says of her initial job search. “One day I would wake up and think that the world is my oyster, that I was in the right place at the right time. The next day I’d wake up and be clearly deeply depressed, thinking I was totally unqualified for any job.” She is obviously qualified enough to hold five jobs at a time. The hard part for her, and for many of us, is finding just one.

The names are easy to rattle off. Christina Afanasieff, 26 in 2008, when she quit her job and then made a huge gamble: buying the tiny Kafe 99 Sqft, where I was later to work as a barista. Like Sadie, Christina has made it work, but barely—she works at the café as a barista as well as owning the place, sometimes works as a temp, and is also currently enrolled in a master’s program at San Francisco State. “I know the job I’m giving people is not a permanent job,” she says of hiring baristas, “and in my interview process I have to ask what other things they’re doing in their life. Everyone I interview is a freelance something or other.”

Like Caroline Kessler, student speaker for her graduating class at Carnegie Mellon and alum of the prestigious Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets. She has recently quit a job at a tech recruiting firm in order to work as a freelance writer. But she has clear memories of the application process for the seemingly impenetrable entry-level admin jobs many others and I have been applying to. “Writers, artists, café workers—everyone across the board would apply to these jobs,” Caroline says. She describes her mass weedings of all applications not strictly adherent to the job’s most basic qualifications. “If you say you’re detail-oriented and have a typo in your cover letter, I don’t believe you,” she says.

Now, Caroline is in that all-too familiar state of “paralyzing fear” accompanying the multi-employed. “I get super freaked out when I think too far in the future about how I am going to sustain this, how I am going to pay rent when it just went up 50 bucks,” she says. Caroline lives in a relatively affordable apartment complex in the Presidio, a removed and forested area of the city many of us would never consider for housing, as it involves an interminable uphill bicycle ride.

Before meeting Caroline, I thought the apartment I shared with Bridgette Haggerty was as far away from the rest of San Francisco as you could get: $1575 was a steal for our unheated abode, its two bedrooms, kitchen, and narrow entryway/living room lopsidedly sloping with the weight of its charm.

When Bridgette joined me in San Francisco, I was freshly unemployed and she had freshly left her parents’ house in Grand Junction, Colorado. “I remember not being able to get a job at the grocery store in my hometown,” she says, and felt as if she would “have a better chance in San Francisco because it was a bigger city.”

She was right. Bridgette found a job at Marmot, selling activewear close to downtown. Because the job was part-time, Bridgette’s initial plan was to supplement it with an internship more aligned with her longer-term goals of working in environmental activism and stewardship. But, she remembers, she eventually stopped applying to internship positions because she would never hear back. Slowly, her plan shifted. “My boss would tell me stories about his own [pre-2008] rise in the world of retail, and it seemed sort of attainable…I was like, this isn’t terrible. Could I do this for the rest of my life?”

The answer, she realized, was no. Bridgette moved back to Colorado to take a position on an Americorps chainsaw crew, a year-long commitment which recently ended. She’s now in Denver working retail and an unpaid internship at an environmental nonprofit.

“Many if not most of my friends are self-employed. They are builders, artists, freelance designers, chefs, farmers,” says Sadie Scheffer. “Most of them have a part-time gig to pay the bills, and spend the rest of their time…planning and brainstorming for their future self-employment.” For those with self-employment as the end goal, these early years of sleeplessness and one or two part-time jobs make sense—slowly, the balance is tilting towards savings and time spent making a business out of a passion. The rest of us, though, are still hustling.

 

Lucy Schiller now lives in Brooklyn and works as a writer. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming on The Rumpus, American Suburb X, zyzzyva.org, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Riveter, Thought Catalog, and Broke-Ass Stuart. Photo: Faruk Ates

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55 Comments / Post A Comment

vanderlyn (#2,954)

I’m not sure where to start with this. While I’m always interested to hear about people “making it in the big city,” this is a story we’ve heard a million times before: young person with a liberal arts degree and aspirations to work in an ultra-competitive soft-skill industry moves to a coastal city in which she has no family or connections, and is disappointed when it doesn’t all come together.

I mean, really: editorial assistant, “content manager,” non-profits. I am sure the author is smart and has a lot to offer, but a lot of people are and do. Employers hire people whom they believe can contribute in a specific, meaningful ways. What about taking some accounting courses, or learning a trade? To enter these saturated, high-cost markets—already filled with people who have roots and connections there, and with nothing to offer except a liberal arts degree and basic computer skills—is a financial and career crap-shoot.

This is not the reality of the “new economy” that we hear so much about and discuss in ominous tones. With no disrespect meant to the author, this is a reflection of a broader narcissism among my generation: a belief that just showing up (and yes, writing lots of resumes and cover letters) will lead to the kind of job that barely exists for anyone anymore.

rabbitrabbit (#3,404)

@vanderlyn Agree on everything except characterizing the author’s job hunt as “narcissism.” Optimism, maybe? Naivete? Hopefulness? But not narcissism. More generally though, I do agree the economy isn’t the whole issue here…

@vanderlyn While I generally agree, the parts about how her friends were cobbling together jobs and businesses for a future of self-employment seemed pretty interesting. This kind of “necessity entrepreneurship” is something frequently seen in developing countries (and to a lesser extent during recessions here in the US, though traditionally more for professionals like lawyers/accounts than actual craftspeople). More power to them, I guess! Though the idea of an artisanal bourgeoisie which exists only to serve a tiny super-wealthy elite sounds a bit feudal for my tastes, that’s San Francisco for you.

rabbitrabbit (#3,404)

@stuffisthings I think you meant artisinal boulangerie…

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

@stuffisthings I think you meant “that’s [any urban center in North America] for you.”

Mae (#1,769)

@vanderlyn I think you’re being a bit hard on the author. It sounds like she broadened her job search after getting rejected from the fields she wanted. Are we going to argue that it’s narcissistic for a college graduate to apply for administrative assistant jobs, too?

@rabbitrabbit Maybe I meant “partisanal boulangerie” — SF doesn’t having paving stones so they’ll have to bash the aristos with their rock-hard week old baguettes!

Catface (#1,106)

@aeroaeroaero It sure is not Seattle. I was in SF recently and this piece makes me realize that what’s so glorious for tourists, for instance all the small, local niche businesses, may mean something different to residents.

Good luck and godspeed to you, Lucy. I would second the point above about studying accounting — take it from me, a little goes a long way.

@Catface Yeah my advice to folks in this situation is always to learn a few “hard skills.” You don’t have to go into accounting and work at Boring & Boring, LLC, for the rest of your life, but if you’ve taken a few accounting classes you are an immeasurably more appealing candidate for a small nonprofit. Likewise, a pure political science/IR background is worth far less than polisci + hard stats (like econometrics) or GIS. Also, lots of places want someone who has actual experience working in an office, for money, in addition to whatever field-specific skills — temp agencies are good for this.

ETA: Also, polisci/IR folks, if you do an internship or work with a professor try to get one where you get to run focus groups, coding surveys, or working with grant applications. It’s not as sexy or intellectually fulfilling as other stuff you might do but these are real skills employers look for…

vanderlyn (#2,954)

@Mae I definitely do not want to argue that! In fact, I’ll flip the premise and question the notion that your typical liberal arts grad is particularly well qualified for administrative assistant work. In a major city like SF, there will be plenty of applicants for administrative assistant positions who are proficient in Excel and maybe some other specialized software, have taken basic business courses, and can offer local references. And an employer might actually prefer to higher someone with an associate’s degree and more related experience, on the assumption that they won’t quit the moment a “dream job” comes along. Not saying it’s fair, but it is what I’ve seen.

@fo (#839)

@stuffisthings

“Yeah my advice to folks in this situation is always to learn a few “hard skills.””

See, that’s what I always wonder about with the plethora of MFA-desiring folks ’round these parts–the “I can’t find a fulfilling AND remunerative job/career based on my fuzzy/squishy/soft-skillz BA (or AB, if you’re fancy), so I think I’ll incur another $20,000 in debt AND a $10,000 + op cost (foregone earnings + interest on other debt) to get a MASTERS degree in fuzzy/squishy/soft-skillz” approach. I don’t get it.

But then, maybe I’m just old. And Mean. And a man. Which reminds me, btw, You kids: get offa my lawn!!

@vanderlyn I am cranky and old, too, but I also have to say that applying to one job a week for three years? I’m not surprised it didn’t yield more.

katiekate (#1,051)

@mean terry gross body shamer

Actually, when you are working 70 hours a week (hiiiii, thats me!) one job application a week for three years is a HUGE DEAL. especially after one year when every application you do seems like a total waste of time, and you custom write a cover letter, like everyone tells you you have to do to get a job.

also? not everyone is cut out to be an accountant. are those of us not good in math and sciences doomed to poverty for eternity? and im really, REALLY sick of people dismissing those of us who want to work in nonprofits as wanting fluffy “MFA” work. we are people who committed to a career of making less than 40k a year, generally, because we wanted to fucking help people other than ourselves. get off our asses, please.

bibliostitute (#285)

@katiekate Hi! I have literally no dog in this fight, besides also being a Young (do we still say that) who is also a little flummoxed by the job market.

That said, I think that maybe we could read mean terry gross body shamer’s comment as being on your side? As being surprised that the 156 job applications all failed to deliver. Because that’s statistically obliterative. And maybe you could just convert that to being a movie and a teevee show and a talk circuit? Nothing like a good coöpting of the media set!

But then, I don’t even live in an English speaking country anymore.

ETA: I realize that I may have conflated you and Lucy! If you are Lucy, great! If you are not Lucy, also great, and I apologize for misunderstanding.

rightclicksave (#2,662)

@katiekate Yes, this! I work at a nonprofit and I majored in English. My job is 40+ hours a week of pushing through Excel spreadsheets, managing projects with tight deadlines and budgets, and fundraising–not to mention administrative tasks. Working at a nonprofit does not mean I get to (or expect to) have kumbaya time with my English BA feelings; it means that I’m doing corporate tasks for significantly less money because I agree with and want to actively support my organization’s mission statement.

I’m fucking sick of people treating nonprofits as something you screw around at for a while before you get a Big Boy job. I’m fucking sick of people acting like you shouldn’t get paid at a nonprofit because nonprofits are soft, or something you go into while your husband (because of course you have a husband, because of course only women dally around in nonprofits which is yet another good reason to pay less!) works his “real job,” or anything less than they are which is hard fucking work.

@rightclicksave This is kind of what I was getting at with my comment about “hard skills.” If you don’t like budgets and spreadsheets then the nonprofit world is NOT for you. Also, we are professionals and deserve to get paid fairly (if not necessarily at the same level as our private sector counterparts). I think in DC at least that is fairly well understood. Nobody in my field expects to make “under 40k” their whole career; in fact, it’s not uncommon even for entry-level folks to make at least that if not more.

In any case, I guess I should broaden my advice to refer to specific, demonstrable skills of all types — languages, video editing, and HTML are all highly valued among job applicants at my organization at the moment, and can help set someone apart when we get 500 applications that are basically identical.

The nonprofit world is also in dire need of other more technical skills where the private/nonprofit pay differential is really high — both project-related skills (like agronomy) and operational stuff (accounting, logistics, legal, office management, IT). I have a buddy who studied hydrogeology and gets to do really cool and useful WATSAN field projects, but only at the “cost” of not taking a six-figure oil company job. STEM vs. nonprofit is not a mutually exclusive choice.

@fo (#839)

@katiekate “people dismissing those of us who want to work in nonprofits as wanting fluffy “MFA” work.”

Not dismissing *that* (or even actually commenting on that), but rather the thinking that *getting* an MFA is more likely than not to improve one’s future *employability* in a meaningful way.

Georgex (#3,512)

@vanderlyn Could not agree more. Listen, I’m 42 and I’m a copywriter. That wasn’t my life plan at 22, but I wanted to write and get paid, so I choose copy writing. But I’ve got friends who are successful journalists and magazine writers, too. You want to make a living writing or editing? Listen up.
1) identify the field you want to work in. Do you want to edit books? Do you want to write copy? Do you want to be a journalist? Pick a path! Applying to everything from editorial assistant jobs to Sephora writing jobs is a waste of time. This is a very segmented, specialized market.
2) ask people in that field what you should do to get started. If you don’t know any, make friends in the field. We will help! Recently, I just gave a young friend of mine some advice…and you know what? She’s got a copywriting job now. We know stuff. We’ve been you. We made it work. LISTEN.
3) suck it up. You think you’re a great writer now, right? You have so much to learn. Be humble. Be nice. Do everything you can. And yes, that means working for free–because maybe it’s not the market that’s treating you bad. Maybe you’re not good enough yet to get paid to write. But don’t think of it as slave labor, you know? Think of it as FREE GRADUATE SCHOOL.

bnquick74 (#4,084)

@katiekate Amen. That’s all I have. Couldn’t agree more.

@katiekate a) i work for a nonprofit. b) it’s fine that one’s limits are what they are, but that doesn’t mean that the world bends to them.

jquick (#3,730)

@vanderlyn I so agree with your comment. Am glad I studied a STEM, where there are more jobs AND higher salaries.

Also, GO to where the jobs are. Right now these may not be the bet places to live, but go there, get experience for a couple years. If you went to Alaska, you could have a nice job next week. Go to oil boom areas.

hopeyglass (#3,298)

@rightclicksave @katiekate thank you for this.

I think that part of it, too, is that many of the Youngs (?) can’t seem to catch up to the curve of bending to whatever it is we’re supposed to find? Plus for those of us who’ve been hustling since we graduated when the economy tanked there’s definitely a, “Fuck, there’s no way of catching up to anyone in a STEM field right now” and (for me) personally knowing people with MS’s in Engineering who can’t get work, well, even that seems to just be absurd?

I held a job in the legal field while rapidly figuring out law school would be sheer idiocy, and boned up on my accounting skills while doing retail operations and making sure I’d be ok for not working my first semester of grad school (PS: also incredibly hard to find work there, no matter what your program tells you!). But as someone interested in doing development work, I think the scary part is just staring at how structural the problems with the service provision and non-profit world is, and how that’s affecting people who do want to work by improving things.

Additionally, yeah, it would be awesome to try and just follow the jobs somewhere, but where is that exactly? And there are reasons some people have to stay in places (that surprisingly aren’t the cultural meccas of the West/East coast) beyond just wanting to be “cool”.

(honestly I don’t even know why I keep reading this stuff, the panic attacks at my tedious research assistant jobs are only getting worse, hijole I should quit the damn program already and return to tending bar because good lord)

sockhopbop (#764)

You know what I think is annoying, is reading articles by young people who have dreams and want things for themselves–non-STEM things–and then find that achieving those dreams can be challenging, but they cobble together livings as best they can and keep striving. It’s like, not only do they smugly opt to have aspirations outside the realm of BLS-endorsed fields, but then they ADMIT that it’s hard to make those aspirations work in a post-recession economy. In an article. Like jerks.

sockhopbop (#764)

@sockhopbop I’m like, “Why don’t you go out and get a job,” and they’re like, “I have five,” and I’m like, “So stop whining, jerkface.”

Li'l Sebastian (#3,297)

@sockhopbop Right? Exactly. I looked at this and was like, “Yup, that is how life is for everyone I know.” I mean, I guess folks without college educations are also hustling like this, and that’s not a story that gets told as much? But other than that I don’t have a critique of this article.

katiekate (#1,051)

@sockhopbop i looooove you.

vanderlyn (#2,954)

@sockhopbop To me, the strength of the Billfold is the emphasis, both in articles and comments, on actualizing a healthy financial life. No one is saying that following dreams is wrong, or that aspiring to non-STEM things is a fool’s errand. But if you aspire to something, shouldn’t you have a plan in place to get it? For example, if you want to add value to a non-profit, shouldn’t you have something concrete that you can use to market yourself? Aspiring to do things, and putting in place a hard-core plan to get them done, are two different things. The latter involves lots of delayed gratification (maybe moving back home, for example) and probably less fun.

Moreover, “aspiring” and “striving” wear you down eventually. The author recognizes the extraordinary psychic toll of working lots of poorly-paid jobs while trying and failing to get a decent long-term gig. One can only aspire and strive for so long before the grind of all those jobs wears you down, and your ambitions begin to evaporate. Then it becomes, “I should go to grad school,” and the cycle begins anew.

sockhopbop (#764)

@vanderlyn Hi! I don’t have a problem with your advice–concrete plans are good, as is building your skill set in a way that’s tailored to the goals you hope to achieve.

But! I think where my reaction to the article differs is that I’m not reading the Billfold for an emphasis on actualizing a healthy financial life. (Although it definitely does have great articles and tips on that front.)

What I really value about the Billfold–and what I think sets it apart from other financial sites–is its goal to provide a non-judgmental space where people can talk openly and honestly about money, jobs, and how those things impact us in various areas of our lives. I thought Lucy wrote a really vibrant and interesting article about her experiences (and those of her friends), but I didn’t come away from it thinking about what she was doing right or wrong. I don’t think there’s enough information in the article for me to have any idea!

jquick (#3,730)

@vanderlyn I’m older. I get tired of hearing younger people yap on about Passion. If you can’t support yourself with your passion, then I think you should get a non passion job (like your parents or grand parents had) so that you can live. And then follow your passion as a hobby/volunteer work.

sockhopbop (#764)

@jquick But… the author does have multiple non-passion jobs (“I make coffee. And work at a farmers’ market. And intern, and I just started at a new restaurant.”).

And the list of the jobs she applied to makes it clear that she wasn’t solely aiming for pie-in-the-sky dream gigs at all: “Bookmobile driver through rural Vermont. Sephora copywriter. Fair trade certification assistant. Administrative assistant for a taxidermist. A member of the “Flight Staff” at an indoor trampoline park.”

smartastic (#3,056)

@sockhopbop The focus on passion isn’t what bothers me. It’s the focus on San Francisco. If you want a certain type of work, you have to live in a place where it’s available. If place is more important to you than type of work then choose a career—like medecine or teaching—that you can do anywhere. And in a place like SF, you have a lot of multi-talented well educated people moving there, so admin assistant becomes a highly competitive position.

milena (#3,288)

The name Sadie Scheffer rang a bell and I realized we lived in the same dorm while at MIT. Hi, Sadie! Glad to see MIT folks starting their own businesses and succeeding at it.

r&rkd (#1,657)

Enh, you can’t really blame people for trying to write their way out of a difficult situation. It may seem like whining, but it’s what they know!

kittykitty (#4,078)

Wow, what’s with all the hate for this article? I’m 30, in the Bay Area, have a four-year degree, ten year’s of solid work history and great references, lots of “hard” skills like accounting and HTML and such, and I’ve been applying to about 20 jobs per week (entry level admin included). I get interviews, but lose out to Ivy League-grads or people with much more specialized experience. It’s HARD to be a bit of a generalist and make a living out here. I identify with this whole piece SOHARD.

* I should add that I’m a San Francisco NATIVE and still don’t seem to have the connections to make a “grown-up” job happen.

This is why I am glad I chose a career where I am almost guaranteed a job (social work, low-paying though it might be right now), in a city where I can rent a beautiful little home with a backyard and two bedrooms and heat, for god’s sake, under $1000 a month (St. Louis, what up). I have done the AmeriCorps thing, and the travel around Europe thing. It was fun, but I actually enjoy building my credit score and mowing my lawn more, because I am building towards the life that I really want as an older adult: owning a house, being able to afford a vacation or two, saving up for retirement. I have insane loans, because I chose an expensive grad school, but I know making those payments on time and in full will only help me later on. Friends: there is a good life between the coasts. Really. If you’re not too snobby, you might even enjoy it! But if you cannot stand to not live in New York, or San Francisco, or Boston, or wherever, at least you’re keeping my rent low.

Little_Lakes (#3,998)

@Anne Wachtel@twitter Shhhh!!! I thought we all agreed to keep it under our hats! (I’m billing my rent increase directly to you! :O)

MilaB (#4,088)

@Anne Wachtel@twitter I am from the SF area, and have lived all over the place (currently just down the road from you in Columbia, MO and love it and also love St. Louis). It amazes me how narrow-minded my California friends and family are about it being the ONLY place worth living. I am as Bay Area as it gets (in that I am not AT ALL a “typical Midwestern” type, hippie chick representin’!), and I find so many places around this country that I have been/would be delighted to live in. Also, my degree from a “fancy school” seems to get me jobs a lot easier in these places than it would in the bay area where everyone seems to have a degree from a fancy school. (Seriously, I got a job I was totally unqualified for based solely on the name of my school. Now that I think of it, two jobs. And it isn’t even that fancy of a school).

limenotapple (#1,748)

@Anne Wachtel@twitter @MilaB shout-out to Missouri peeps! Columbia was where I went through some of the same issues as the author, many years ago. And I love how St. Louis’ cost of living helped make it easier to figure it all out.

Noro (#3,422)

It’s been a few years since I applied for jobs, but I remember when I was about to graduate from college, we sent out resumes in batches of 50 or 100. When I was finishing graduate school, I sent out over 500 resumes to get 6 interviews, one of which landed a job.

So perhaps I just wasn’t as focused as the writer, but 150 apps over 3 years seems like not much effort.

I don’t want to rub it in, but I got a job and lived in SF for 15 years until I got tired of it.

Will (#4,085)

@Noro

In what career field does one send out resumes in batches of 100?

Anarcissie (#1,703)

@Will — Back in the day, I used to get 100 printed up at a time, but I didn’t send them out all at once; maybe 10 or 20 a day. Technological work. It’s called ‘papering the street’. Response depends on industry and conditions, but 6 interviews for 500 resumes sounds about right for these times.

Anarcissie (#1,703)

If you were in Urbana, you could go to Nina Paley’s show nearby in ‘Sleepy Creek Vinyards’. (See http://blog.ninapaley.com.) There is life and hope everywhere, even in Urbana.

Several years ago I was visiting a friend who lives in San Francisco, and she gave a dinner party — maybe 14 or 15 people — and during it I realized that I was the only person present with a straight job. Everyone else had hustles of one kind or another going. I’m not talking about young people here; these were middle-aged and even ‘old’ people, all more or less middle-class, with houses and cars and all that. I decided it was the wave of the future. Not long after that, I too went part-time, partly because the business I was working for was sinking. My trade, by the way, was not literary; I was and am a computer ‘software engineer’ with a resume that will pull your arm off. It doesn’t matter a whole lot.

This is the new world, I guess.

jacobus (#4,087)

Don’t worry, as we speak our political overlords are scheming of ways to bring 10s of millions of new workers into the country.

I’m assured that this will somehow be good for us, even if the low-skill “gap” jobs we young people take to survive and gain connections/experience become even more impossible to find and even more low paying.

Write your congresspeople to thank them!

revlovejoy (#2,650)

If you can’t find a job in SF, try surrounding cities like Oakland and Berkeley.

Jacob (#4,242)

Good write, you should try some project managing jobs related to your previous jobs. Download project manager resume sample to apply.

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Goodness, what’s with all the contempt for this article? I’m 30, in the Bay Area, have a four-year degree, ten year’s of robust work history and incredible references, heaps of “hard” aptitudes like bookkeeping and HTML and such, and I’ve been applying to around 20 employments for every week (entrance level administrator included). I get meetings, yet miss out to Ivy League-graduates or individuals with considerably more specific experience. It’s HARD to be a bit of a generalist and bring home the bacon over here. I relate to this entire piece SOHARD. cleaners london

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