“A cover of The New Yorker last spring picked up on the zeitgeist: a young man hangs up his new Ph.D. in his boyhood bedroom, the cardboard box at his feet signaling his plans to move back home now that he’s officially overqualified for a job. In the doorway stand his parents, their expressions a mix of resignation, worry, annoyance and perplexity: how exactly did this happen?”
You know how sometimes you read a news article and it just stays with you? A few days ago an article came out on nytimes.com and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The above quote from What Is It About 20-Somethings? is what started my head spinning. I’m starting graduate school in little over a week. I will be pursuing a MFA degree. I have every intention on further pursuing a Ph.D. I want to “go all the way” with my education.
It’s not like after reading the article that I had an epiphany or anything. It’s not like this was any “new” news. I have friends from college that have moved back in with their parents over the last couple of years.
Hell, it even almost happened to me. After graduating with a BFA in May of 2008 I moved down to NYC where I worked for one of the largest visual marketing companies in the city. I was making enough money to take care of myself. I had reached many of the “milestones” mentioned in this article. I had done everything I was “supposed to do.” I think that is particularly why I was SO SHOCKED when I was laid off from my job in early 2009. My company had already gone through a few rounds of lay-offs due to the current state of the economy and I was assured by my boss that I was safe. Not even a month later and I was being called into his office. I don’t even think it was a month after that and he was laid off. I was told I was “making too much money” and they couldn’t afford to keep me on. I was then faced with a lot of decisions. I decided (after a month of looking for work) to leave NYC, I couldn’t afford paying $1200/month for my studio apartment! I decided there was NO WAY I was going to be “one of those people” moving back in with my parents. So, I moved back to Rochester, NY where I had completed my undergraduate degree. The state of the economy in ROC was no better than NYC. I went on a few different interviews at establishments in my field and was told I was “overqualified” by every single one. I was shocked. I was 23 at the time. How could I possibly be 23 and “making too much money” and be “overqualified?”
I then had to do the unthinkable. After all of that hard work in NYC I had to cut that position from my resume. My first “real job” after college and it no longer existed in my job history. This was a low-point for me. Interestingly enough, my first interview after I had cut that position from my resume…I was hired.
This whole “overqualified” fiasco is frustrating, but obviously not stopping me from pursuing my MFA. It also doesn’t change the fact that I am “overqualified” at my current job, HR just doesn’t know about it. What does that say? Specifically, what does that say about me? If I wasn’t accepted into graduate school my life could be taking an entirely new direction right now, and not necessarily a good direction. Right now, I can work part-time and attend my classes while being able to survive financially. This would not be possible however without the overwhelming support of my family, particularly my mom. I think back to that quote I started this post with…I wonder if she is feeling a “mix of resignation, worry, annoyance and perplexity” at my current situation. She must be.
Right now, I feel like this girl: