Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

Post-Grad: Part 2

May 22, 2011

Well, it’s official. I’m a graduate. Again.

Last week, I stood on stage at Gammage Auditorium as Associate Dean Marianne Barrett placed a graduate hood over my head. I walked across the stage in ludicrously high heels and shook the hand of Dean Chris Callahan and then made my way to my mother, Associate Dean Kristin Gilger, who handed me a diploma — and a very big hug.

After two long years of writing, shooting, laughing, crying, running in heels and sometimes falling on my face, I now have a master’s degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

My post-grad life is about to restart. And so is my post-grad blog.

I will wake up tomorrow morning, drink a large cup of coffee and then pack up my life in Phoenix. I’ve been grinding my teeth a lot lately. I think it has something to do with this impending reality — not the coffee, leaving Phoenix. See, there is nothing I want to do less.

Last month, I found myself sitting in a tiny room inside a shop in Sedona with my two best friends and a woman named Ashiko. She had a vague Eastern European accent, round glasses and three decks of Tarot cards. Now, as a Catholic, I don’t believe in this kind of thing — fortune telling or auras or palm readings. But, as a Catholic, I was also raised with an innate respect for — and fear of — anything that hints of the supernatural and superstitious. So, as I should have expected I would, I believed every word Ashiko said.

She read me like the open book I am, and we spent the majority of our time talking about my career. Where will I go when I graduate, she wanted to know. I did too. So, I pulled a card for each place I might end up — New York, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans. They were all promising, she said. There were cards with words like “Power” and “Prosperity” on them. Nothing ominous at all.

Then, I asked Ashiko if I could pull one more. “What if I stay in Phoenix?” I asked, and flipped over a card.

There was a picture of a Gollum-like character on it gripping onto the bars he was trapped behind. “Clinging to the past,” the card said.

Out loud, I laughed at the cryptic message on the card. In my head, I was shouting at Ashiko and all of her supposed wisdom about my life. My life. What did she know, anyway?

I left the shop secretly devastated by that card — not because the card would somehow force me to leave Phoenix, this city that I love with its mountains, heat, space and my friends and family within its boundaries. I was devastated by that card because I knew what it said was true.

Tomorrow, I will wake up, drink a large cup of coffee and then pack up my life in Phoenix. I’ll spend the summer in Europe and New York City. I’ll become a Carnegie fellow at ABC News under Brian Ross’s investigative unit. I’ll apply for jobs all over the country — the world, really. I’ll convince myself I’m ready for another adventure and I might actually be ready for one by the time I start it.

But, all the time, wherever I end up in the coming months and years, I’ll know that I was devastated when I saw that card.

After a lifetime of moving from place to place, the last occupied always became my new answer to the question, “Where are you from?” In Oregon, I was from Louisiana; in Phoenix, from Oregon; in New York, from Phoenix; in Paris, from New York. Then, I moved home. Now, I will always be from Phoenix.

I was devastated when I saw that card because I knew what it said was true.

That’s how fortune telling works, after all.

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I graduated in the worst year ever.

September 25, 2009

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It rained on my graduation day. No, poured.

It was an outdoor ceremony in May.

We all thought it was rather ironic, considering the already manic state we were all in.

After all, we all agreed, we are graduating in the worst year ever.

There’s a scenario that keeps re-playing in my life since my graduation last May.

It happened to me earlier this week at a Starbucks in Paradise Valley mall.

I was next door getting my bridesmaid’s dress fitted for my sister’s wedding (which is in about two weeks now), when I went next door, ordered my skinny vanilla latte, and heard someone kneeling behind the counter say, “Lauren Gilger!” He stood up and I realized it was a friend of a friend I knew from high school.

“Hey! How’re you doing?” I asked.

“Oh I’m good,” he said. “I pretty much work here, go to the gym and hang out at my apartment,” he laughed as he said this…probably because he graduated from Vanderbilt four months ago.

“Well, at least you’re not living with your parents again like me!” I answered.

That scenario, has replayed at least a few times a month since graduation in various places — a bar or two, a restaurant, a store.

I took an English class my sophomore year at Fordham called “Early Upward American Mobility.” We read Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and learned why we all think the way we do. It’s like “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” is engraved on our collective conscience. In the words of The Jefferson’s, in America, we’re all about movin’ on up.

It’s been our story, our drive, our ethic since the beginning.

On the first day of that class, I’ll never forget it, Prof. Ed Cahill told us that every American generation since the country’s founding has been more successful than the generation before. Until ours. And it’s not only that we will not make more money than our parents, it’s that we cannot — the growth will have topped out.

This was before the market crashed last summer and made this all obvious.

Right now it seems that every driven, articulate, hard-working, intelligent person I know must be checking to see if they’re diploma is really there on the wall every few minutes. I have a friend who worked as a dog-walker and on-the-street canvasser in Manhattan all summer after graduation, another is waiting tables in Scottsdale, probably reciting french literature in his head, and another is cocktail waitressing at a bar near her parent’s house. I have a friend who’s interning for free at a theater in California and spending her saving’s on rent and another who’s working at Best Buy and applying for every open engineering position anywhere.

A few of us went to grad school right away and are trying not to burn out, and just about everyone else is signing up for the LSAT or GRE right now.

Should we all just give up now and accept the fact that we are way overeducated in a job market that is only shrinking?

I don’t know. But I do know that Ben Franklin would say, “an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

Let’s hope so.

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