Grad to world: I deserve more, now!

Narcissus-Caravaggio

The Huffington Post has always seemed a bit of an odd creature. Described as an online news aggregator and blog, the site offers news and original content, and covers a variety of topics, including politics, entertainment, culture and comedy.

Yours truly isn’t a regular reader of The Huffington Post, but when I came across a story about a 24-year-old recent college graduate unhappy with the low pay associated with her first job – titled “I Feel Like I’m Just Starting My Life And I’m Already Miles And Miles Behind” – I initially thought it was a parody, something along the lines of The Onion.

Consider this excerpt from a first-person account by Monica Simon, a Penn State grad who works full time at an online advertising firm in Philadelphia and earns $23,000 a year after taxes:

“I like it, but it doesn’t pay as well as I’d like it to. So I’ve looked around for other jobs. But really, I can’t find any. I’m thinking about going back to school because I’m not even sure at this point if this job is going to hold out in the future. Right now I’m just up in the air on what steps to take next.”

Comic genius, right? Sadly, no. In fact, there’s more real-life woe-is-me bleating:

“I probably take in about $1,800 a month. My anxiety is constantly high about bills I have to pay,” Simon writes. “My student loans make me so nervous because I have my family co-sign on them. It’s not just my credit on the line. It’s theirs, too. That’s a constant anxiety that I have.

“Sometimes I get paid and then I have, maybe, $150 left over for the two weeks,” she adds. “I really don’t have enough for food and gas, so I rely a lot on my credit cards. I just feel I’m getting way behind where I want to be for my age. I feel I’m just starting my life and I’m already miles and miles behind.”

That’s right, this is no parody. This is an adult woman who is whining because her first job doesn’t, it appears, allow her to assume the lifestyle she expected to walk into right out of college.

Apparently, logic isn’t a requirement to get a Bachelor of Arts degree at Penn State.

Simon both complains about her college debt and talks about going back to school. Also, the story indicates she makes $23,000 a year after taxes, but she then writes that she “probably” takes in about $1,800 a month, which works out to $21,600 annually.

One of Simon’s complaints: “There will be weekends when I’ll just have to sit home because if there’s a priority between food and going out, it’s going to be food.”

She ought to try telling her story to a single mother who is raising one or more children on $23,000 – or less – a year and see how much sympathy she gets.

If Simon does decide to go back to school, she might start with some basic Economics courses. These might help her better understand her “predicament.”

Here’s some helpful information: Supply and demand tends to determine which jobs pay more.

Jobs requiring more skill and training, such as engineering, accounting, computer programming, pay more money than those which either require less training or have a glut of applicants.

Advertising, even online advertising, is an area with a steady supply of aspiring hopefuls, which keeps entry-level wages low. The same holds true for many of the liberal arts professions, including journalism, photography and acting.

It’s usually only after years of honing one’s talent in these areas that an individual can begin to earn a good living.

That’s due in part to the reality that it often takes years to become proficient enough to set oneself apart from the crowd and prove to an employer that you’re worth more than a piddling wage.

If we all got to do whatever we wanted for whatever salary we wanted, the world would be filled with aspiring novelists turning out mostly poorly written books and fledgling artists churning out largely mediocre paintings.

Meanwhile, there’d be relatively few individuals willing to take on less-glamorous tasks such as assembling our automobiles, building our homes and delivering our mail.

The bottom line: You don’t get a fancy salary because you think you deserve it; you get it because you earn it.

(Top: Narcissus, by Caravaggio, circa 1597-1599, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome.)

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13 thoughts on “Grad to world: I deserve more, now!

  1. Even if you deserve more, you sometimes don’t get it. I work two jobs and don’t make that kind of money at 52 hours per week… she’s doing pretty well.

  2. Oh the poor pet. “There will be weekends when I’ll just have to sit home because if there’s a priority between food and going out, it’s going to be food.” Welcome to the real world where ‘going out’ is a rarely seen beast.

    I bet she has a nice warm place to work and gets to sit down all day though. There’s people who would kill for that kind of horror in their first job (I know I would have).

    • I’m sure we had similar starts: My first job out of college was working in a brickyard for six months during the hottest summer in New England in a long, long time. I earned $5 an hour, worked 5-1/2 days a week and lived in a roach-infested apartment.

      When I finally got a job as a reporter, I got bumped up to $7 an hour, which worked out to about $14,500 a year. I’d have been embarrassed to have complained publicly about not being happy with my salary or not always being able to go out on the weekend. What a wuss.

      • :) my first paid job (my very first job was at an animal refuge, so lots of poo and mess, all for free!) was sorting and putting stickers on radiator hoses in a very breezy warehouse in winter. I proved that I could get it done quickly, and without whining about the conditions, and was moved to something better, and on and on…..
        I always thought that was the way jobs worked, you start off with the crappy ones and work your way up when you show your worth, I didn’t think I was entitled to an office and a good pay packet just because I turned up!

      • My parents always told me you started out with less-than sterling jobs for two reasons: to learn how to work and to learn which jobs you didn’t want to spend the rest of your life doing. They were right on both counts, as usual.

  3. it is sad that this isn’t a parody, and somehow she is in ‘entitlement mode’. i think that life will teach her a few real lessons before long.

  4. Boy! I wish she had started out with me…in a period where clients paid the solicitor…who didn’t generally pay me for three years…I took students, crammed then through the bar exams, lived in a decidedly downmarket place and watched my budget lie a hawk!

    Poor dear! I hope – sincerely – that she never has to wake up.

  5. Just. Wow! Pause for breath and long comment.

    My first journalism wage packet was £77 a week. Plus exes. Before that I’d worked on a govt scheme, there were a lot at the time to get young people off the dole, that obv paid less, can’t remember what it was.

    Partner’s first job was about a fiver a week as an apprentice decorator. His paper round paid more that he had had from school, so he kept that up as well. So he did his paper round in the morning, put in a full day at construction, paper round in the evening, and somewhere fitted in going to college to get his papers.

    I probably started working on the market on Saturdays at 12 ish. (illegal but I was tall). Arrived at the market at 7.30 or just before, left around 5.30.

    I actually chose working holidays in my early 20s. Grape-picking, working on the reconstruction of a medieval village, archaeology, lectures on a youth and heritage course in Amsterdam. Not that I am the world’s workaholic but I found it interesting.

    Now I can’t get a job. Too overqualified and too experienced. A bit like when I left one newspaper, the editor hired two trainees to replace me, probably for the same money as I had been getting. And that is one of the issues for older people, *most* young people will work for less money. I never expected big money until my 30s, and I worked bloody hard for it, including doing my second degree in my spare time, ie evenings and weekends, inbetween taking work home as well.

    We went to visit a mate of Partner’s in South Wales. He was about to get his Masters in Environmental Health and expected a pay rise because he had got the degree? Why? I didn’t expect a pay rise when I got mine, I expected pay rises for achieving results. Not passing exams. (At which I was pretty good).

    Tell the darling to come to Gib. On-line gaming pays low salaries to aspiring young people – she does have a few languages to her bow I take it? – the rent is expensive, and my partner with 40+ years experience in his trade (plus quals) takes home around £15000 a year.

    I think your commenters, me included, are all a load of grumpy old people :D

    • Who’s really to blame in an instance like this? One could say the society in which this young lady grew up, but that’s a cop out. In reality, her parents didn’t do a very good job preparing her for the realities of life: i.e. you start at the bottom, prove yourself and work your way up. Fathers who do everything for their daughters – from putting gas in their cars to paying their credit cards to taking care of the details on renting their apartments – do them no favors. It leaves the latter both unable to deal with the exigencies of the real world and with a sense of entitlement. And parents who allow their sons to act the part of the eternal irresponsible fraternity boy also do them no favors. Part of being a parent is preparing your child to survive on their own.

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