Whether you agree with the Occupy Wall Street movement or not, you cannot ignore the reasons for their anger and disillusionment. Not only do we have ridiculously high unemployment, but a report came out today stating the wealth gap between the young and old is at its “widest ever” (http://huff.to/uoLinn). When I first heard the headline on The Today Show, I assumed they were about to say the older generation was suffering because of the stock market and their low-yield retirement funds. Boy was I surprised, and depressed, when they stated student loan debt and mortgages are drowning the younger generations in debt instead.
As a hall director living in a residence hall for more years than I would like to admit, I am anxious to find a position at the next level of Residential Life, Admissions, Financial Aid, Judicial Affairs…anywhere they will take me. However, as I watch with sadness as my peers struggle to find jobs, I wonder what other live-in professionals will do in this terrible job market? At my current institution, like many schools, we do not have unlimited terms of service for hall directors. Too many of my peers have been told they needed to leave the position even though they had not yet found replacement employment.
Just last year, one of my fellow hall directors spent their last year sending out, no exaggeration, 150 resumes to schools all over the country. “Devon” started his search being very selective; he would only apply to jobs within our state. But, then as the months rolled by without a single interview, he branched out to the surrounding states until, eventually, he distributed his resume to states on the opposite coast. “Devon” had a few interviews; however, the jobs always offered salaries too low to make living possible. With all his education and experience, he was never able to find a suitable position that made the live-in job worth it.
I understand that history is cyclical. Our grandparents struggled through the Great Depression. Our parents suffered through the 1980s stock market crash. And we are experiencing whatever mess this is. I wish I had words of wisdom for other professional staff looking for the next step in our field; however, I do not. We can only hope that the economy bounces back and that going to college, earning great experience, and working hard makes people successful again.
Until then, I guess I’ll practice flipping burgers and asking if “you’d like fries with that”.