Thursday, January 15, 2009


i subscribe to a few weekly finance newsletters from various newspapers. the one i enjoy the most is written by michelle singletary of the washington post. last week, she asked for some reader responses to a dear prudence column about being underemployed with a college degree. granted, i'm not underemployed, but i do think from time to time about switching career tracks. i responded anyway. here's the context:
Working It Out
A grocery store clerk was wrestling with customer and colleague questions about why he's bagging groceries with a college degree.

The letter made me wonder if others were employed at jobs that weren't satisfying just so they could maintain an income. Here's what some of you wrote:

M. Johnson of Orinda, Calif., says that like the grocery store clerk, he was passed over for a job because he was overqualified and they were fearful he'd resign for another opportunity.

"But more alarming is why they wouldn't bring me on and then hope to create something for me where I could continue to add significant value to the enterprise far beyond my cost to them. Shortsightedness? In this market? Unfortunately," Orinda wrote.

Teacher Ben J. from Arlington, Va., said he's "content to have a job that I enjoy, even if it feels like it controls my life at times."

One Maryland reader, who asked that her name not be used, said that she can "identify completely with the grocery store clerk." She graduated from a top school and took a fellowship that paid $26,000.

"I loved my job, but I would often skip meals just to make sure I was making my bills," she wrote. "I found work at a high-end retail store in sales and actually make significantly more than before. But I still get asked all the time why I'm not using my degree or what I'm doing there. Sometimes I feel like responding, 'I enjoy eating lunch.'"

Joseph Zairo of Pa., puts it all in perspective: "I get up at 4:30 a.m. and as I am getting ready for work I think about and plan for the day. I try to make things interesting. Work is work."

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