« Death Defying Puppy of the Week | Main | Paradigm Shift »

March 22, 2012

Work

In the context of the Charles Murray discussions, I got to thinking about the kinds of jobs I've held over the years. Here are some of the ways I made extra money from 18-38 (pre college degree). I'm sure I've left some out, but this is a representative sample:

Dessert girl/dishwasher in a cafeteria

Burger flipper and ice cream machine cleaner

Cashier (numerous times - for Woolworth's, the Navy Exchange in Norfolk VA, Dart Drug, a tiny book store in the high desert among others. At one job, I worked all the way through my first pregnancy up until a few days before I delivered. The store manager nearly had a cow - he was deathly afraid I'd go into labor during my shift.)

Contract cleaning and yard work for couples moving out of base housing. Second hardest job I ever had, but I enjoyed it most of the time.

Head cashier, customer service mgr for a large national discount store

Self-employed yard work (mowing lawns, planting shrubs, weeding, trimming) in my mid-20s. I also did odd jobs like minor home repairs for military wives whose husbands were deployed.

Home day care provider for one baby, a large group of toddlers, and 2 8-10 year olds. A lot of diaper changing and nose-wiping and cooking and cleaning up. And the joy of going to the Commissary with 4-5 small children in tow. I felt like Jemima Puddleduck.

House painter (alone, mid 20s). Fun job, hard work. On my first job I earned enough money to buy a lovely country Queen Anne walnut china cabinet and a cherry piecrust table.

Window washer (alone, mid 20s). Only job that ever made me so tired that I cried at the end of each day from sheer exhaustion. Not enough upper body strength to move a large extension ladder around all day.

Making slipcovers and curtains for other people (short lived, as was my patience).

Tech support/CSR for a large credit card issuer.

Tutor (primarily College Algebra and Calculus).

Supplemental instructor for Business Law, College Algebra, Probability & Stats.

Financial aid counselor.

Legal Intern.

Paralegal, Family Law practice.

Note that most of these jobs were either menial jobs or jobs earning minimum wage or barely above it. At 39 I got my degree. It took me a year to find work, but I'm still at the same job. My initial salary nearly tripled the highest salary I'd ever made before. I now make over twice that amount.

This is one reason I so often object to the conservative jihad against college degrees. When you're worked mostly manual jobs for twenty years for very little money, it is almost surreal to hear people asking whether a degree is worth anything. If working with my hands for years taught me anything, it was that manual labor becomes increasingly hard with age. And because you don't make much, there's not much security in that kind of work.

A degree is not a guarantee of anything, but it opens a LOT of doors.

One other thing I realized is that while I enjoyed some jobs more than others, I can't think of a single job that I would never do again. Each one had something to teach me.

What kind of jobs have you held? Which did you like? Dislike? Why?

Posted by Cassandra at March 22, 2012 08:45 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/4098

Comments

The most unusual job I had Cass was working in a fish plant - when I was 18-19 - it was at one time the largest on the west coast (and we are actually 100 miles inland!)

Wildly erratic hours - some days I wouldn't go in - but when the salmon were coming in - from satellite plants in AK and OR, it was crazy.

Report for work at 4AM and if the crawdads were in (they had a huge export market to Sweden) - clean the massive shelling machine at midnight.

Some days I would be there 20 hours; other days 4 hours.

An odd side effect - the salmon oil would actually permeate your skin - you couldn't wash it off. My mother would make me change clothes in the garage (don't know why).

People would get into my car and say "what's that smell?"

And I said "what smell?"

I was too used to it.

Lots more to write but better get back to work.

On degrees I would say "it depends on the degree" but kudos to you for going at 39 and getting a degree.

Most people don't have the mental discipline.

Posted by: Bill Brandt at March 22, 2012 11:36 AM

Actually Cass I have an even better one that than but it will have to wait - work to do!

Posted by: Bill Brandt at March 22, 2012 11:37 AM

I think a college degree confers an obvious benefit on someone like you, but not on everyone. Vague college degrees awarded to drifting kids with average or below-average mental resources probably are a waste of time. You're cut out to work with your mind, but that's not everyone.

I've sold candy at a movie house, flipped burgers, posed nude for art classes, typed papers, drafted for architects, painted houses and commercial buildings, constructed simple furniture, written environmental impact statements, conducted site surveys for power plants, and waited tables. (It was the tables that got me the worst: though I was young and slender, my feet KILLED me. I've over-tipped every since.) Then, with a law degree, I bumped my earning power by a factor of about 30, but had to wear shoes, which I hated. So education has its plusses and minuses.

Posted by: Texan99 at March 22, 2012 11:43 AM

I think a college degree confers an obvious benefit on someone like you, but not on everyone. Vague college degrees awarded to drifting kids with average or below-average mental resources probably are a waste of time. You're cut out to work with your mind, but that's not everyone.

I don't disagree with you there, nor can I disagree with anyone who says just getting a college degree will solve all your problems.

I can't think of *anything* (even winning the lottery) of which that could be fairly said, though.

I could have gotten into most any school, but chose to go to less expensive local schools. I could have afforded a better school, but didn't want to take on debt. You can't stop thinking when making major life decisions, but then again that has always been true pretty much across the board.

I'm a huge fan of community colleges. Heck, I have 2 associates' degrees to show for it. And technical schools. And trade schools.

And while I have never had any problem with manual labor or taking lower paying jobs (that's exactly what I did, to have time with my children and avoid putting them in day care), it's a bit nuts to pretend there isn't a cost there, too. The cost is security, but also the time ratio of time spent working to money earned.

Life is full of tradeoffs. Where I get annoyed is when I hear people complaining about the tradeoffs inherent in the choices they've made freely (as with women who choose to take time out for family but want the salary of someone with unbroken work experience, or with men who want you to believe that in this day and age, they have no choice but to choose to prioritize work). We always have choices.

We may not like them, but we have them all the same.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 22, 2012 11:55 AM

A fish plant! I can't top that :)

Posted by: Cassandra at March 22, 2012 11:56 AM

Cass - the best advice I ever got on life was the simple statement:

"Life is nothing more than choices"

When you think about it - we are all as we are because of good - and bad choices - we have made.

But to my most "unusual" job -

I had just gotten out of the Army - 1974 - and the employment situation looked a bit bleak.

So I signed up with a temp agency and they offered me a chance to be a "marketing consultant".

Sounds interesting I thought - so I said "sign me up"

(Do the Marines have an edict about "never volunteer for anything" like the Army? ;-)

Well, they divided the group into 2 - and we were to evaluate the effects of some experimental mouthwash.

One half went behind a wall with a hole in it - took the mouthwash and breathed though the hole - the other half had to take a big whiff on the other side of the wall.

Guess which side I got.

Anyway between "sample A" and "Sample B" it was sometimes between "being just nauseous" and `"ready to puke".

That was my only time at being a "Marketing Consultant"

it's all in the title, isn't it?

Posted by: Bill Brandt at March 22, 2012 12:16 PM

I had a good job out of a temp agency too, Mr. Brandt. Some firm had decided to build folders that contained different pieces of information, which were on pieces of paper from different print runs. So, for eight hours a day every day, we walked around a table taking one piece of paper from each stack, then the next, etc. At the end of the table, we had a completed folder, picked up a new empty folder, and went around again. There were about twenty of us, like a merry-go-round.

I also had a job from that same agency which was just data-entry; very dull stuff, except that it alerted me to the evil of the firm hiring us. They were mailing out checks to illegal immigrants in the amount of ten dollars, as a "Welcome to America" present. However, if you cashed the check, it said (in English) that your endorsement was also an endorsement of a contract to switch that house's long distance plan over to this company's (which was, of course, at punitive rates).

Another great job I had was working for the unions down in Savannah, just going around and checking on guys who were out on medical leave. One of those guys was built like a linebacker, and obviously out for some mental condition. He pulled an AR-15 on me while I was down there, and kept it in his lap during the several hours we sat around his table and talked. Eventually he got around to asking me to show him how to clean it (which, disassembling that rifle was something I was very happy to do).

Another job I had as a young man -- I was in college at the time -- was working for a detective agency. I enjoyed that job a lot: we often ran against people who were involved in drug gangs, things like that. Unfortunately my boss eventually went to prison, which largely put an end to my career as a private investigator.

I did teach college in China once, too. That was an interesting experience, which I talked about here.

Posted by: Grim at March 22, 2012 12:30 PM

"When you're worked mostly manual jobs for twenty years for very little money, it is almost surreal to hear people asking whether a degree is worth anything."

Your degree is worth something because you earned it -- in more ways than just by completing the requirements necessary for the degree. You were also earning it while you were working those manual and lesser paying jobs. It was there that you learned one of life's biggest lessons -- finishing what you start no matter how difficult it turns out to be. College was never designed to do this because kids that have graduated from high school are supposed to already have a firm grasp, if not necessarily an experienced proficiency, of this concept.

Posted by: DL Sly at March 22, 2012 12:32 PM

OK, I just thought of another weird job I had:

When I was 18 I got paid for participating in psychology experiments.

Here's another interesting one: what about jobs you could have taken, but decided there wasn't enough money in the world?

I was offered a few modeling jobs, sometimes under suspicious circumstances. One young man offered to pay me to go to the beach with him with my big straw hat and let him take pictures of me. I declined, as I suspected he was trying to get me to go out with him, but also because I was afraid my body would eventually be found in a dumpster somewhere.

I only ever did modeling twice: once in school and once for a charity event. But you couldn't pay me to do it.

Another one was waitressing. I waited tables for church socials, but couldn't see myself doing that day in and day out. I don't mind hard work but that just struck me as a job that would make me hate life.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 22, 2012 12:40 PM

Your degree is worth something because you earned it

I agree with this one. I've never thought most kids are ready for college right out of HS. They need to get out in the world and work for a year or two first. But that's just me.

I also think kids need to pay for part of their school. I made both my boys earn money for their room and board and expenses and books. And they took loans, but they had to work too.

You have to have some skin in the game.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 22, 2012 12:42 PM

I had a good job out of a temp agency too, Mr. Brandt. Some firm had decided to build folders that contained different pieces of information, which were on pieces of paper from different print runs. So, for eight hours a day every day, we walked around a table taking one piece of paper from each stack, then the next, etc. At the end of the table, we had a completed folder, picked up a new empty folder, and went around again. There were about twenty of us, like a merry-go-round.

That sounds like my paralegal job.

I was hired to do paralegal work but ended up doing mostly collections on my boss's overdue accounts (which I HATED). Since there was not enough work to keep me busy after I had cleaned the spots out of her carpets and steam cleaned them with a cleaner I rented from the grocery store and paid for out of my handsome wages and hand dusted every *&^% leaf on her gross silk ficus tree, I spent most of my time going through her files and putting them in order.

Worst.job.ever. Only one I ever quit due to unhappiness.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 22, 2012 12:48 PM

At one job, I worked all the way through my first pregnancy up until a few days before I delivered. The store manager nearly had a cow - he was deathly afraid I'd go into labor during my shift.)

That reminds me... Back in the '80's when I worked at an east coast nuclear plant (same design as the Fukushima Daiichi plants, but that's a different story) we had a young lady in dosimetery who worked right up to the day before she delivered. Towards the end everyone avoided dosimetery as much as possible since she looked like she was going to explode at any minute. Her boss was a mess. She had a great time with it - she told us that she wanted to sneak up behind him and drop a water balloon, but was afraid she'd laugh so hard she would break her water.

Let's see, jobs I've had... pizza cook, Navy avionics tech, Mexican food short order cook, test technician, instrumentation technician, reactor operator, gun bunny (MOS 13B), auxiliary operator, system administrator, satellite integration and test tech, IT manager, pogue in Kuwait (SECFOR), IT security guy, flying trunk monkey (MOS 15T), flight instructor, aircraft mechanic. Not done yet. I didn't get my degree until I was 37 - Computer Science. While it did help with door opening, my military provided vocational/technical training was what made the difference. My personal rule has been not to work at a job I don't enjoy. Interestingly enough, that doesn't necessarily exclude "menial" labor, although over the long term I do get bored with repetitive stuff. At this point I have no desire to work in a cubicle environment again, so I've taken a voluntary pay cut to work in aviation again. Once the bills are paid, everything else is gravy, so I'm no longer salary driven if indeed I ever was.

Posted by: Pogue at March 22, 2012 01:10 PM

I had all sorts of jobs before, and while attending a college.

Convenience store clerk, probably still one of the more dangerous jobs in the country.

Steel mill worker. Oh man was that job hot. My job mainly consisted of throwing 100 pound bags of alloying materials in the kettle, and unsnarling the re-bar extruder when it went off the rails.

Cowboy. I lived off of a horse on my friend's ranch in NM for 2 summers. At times that was a very tedious job. Round ups, cutting, branding, checking the fence, and on and on. I hated that horse BTW.

Hard rock miner. Brrr, shiver. I managed to get a mild case of claustrophobia out of that one. Sixteen tons whatta you get...

Posted by: Allen at March 22, 2012 02:53 PM

I have always been envious of those who have "always" known what they wanted to do and had the determination to get there.

I entered the military at seventeen,(community college did not cross my mind, anymore than someone in the Air Force would end up on the ground in SEA)! Ten years and two AFSC's later I had a marketable technical skill but did not determine I needed to go to college until I was in my second enlistment, did not finish MA until I was 39 and had been out for ten years. Each time I finished a degree program I swore I was done, and then determined if I wanted the income power and the ability to be paid for "what I knew" vs. what I did" you had to have the paper.

Even after all of this I beleive that most of us "back" into our careers!

What I do now, is not what I envisioned, still not sure what I would like to be when I grow up and I will be sixty this year ( Gawd I hate the sound of that, but what are you to do)!

I am rambling, I admire those that dedicated themselves to a program, for many of us, looking at someone with a degree (deferring to the writer that spoke to vauge degrees that I agree with thier comment) the completion of a degree has become a filter, I want to hire the person that determined , persued, and completed a degree on thier own!

Even after all of this the most valuable "life-long" class I ever took was a year of typing in the 9th grade. My father insisted, I hated every minute of it, and would never admit it to him but it was the single most valuable class I have ever taken!

Posted by: sysphis at March 22, 2012 03:00 PM

If it's any comfort, I've never felt a strong desire to do any particular job. My brother always knew he wanted to be a mathematician, but his aptitudes all point in the same direction.

Mine point in all sorts of directions, but mostly towards Law, computer programming, or being a college professor (I've never done any of these jobs) :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 22, 2012 03:21 PM

I worked a couple of summers for AO Smith making water heaters. My task was to take the water heater liners, just sprayed with glass, and hang them on the conveyor belt that carried them through the furnace that baked the glass into a sound liner for the tanks. My station was next to the furnace that did that baking, and when I was on the day shift, my term started out at 100 deg and warmed up from there. Believe it or not, I liked the heat, although I couldn't escape the fatiguing aspect of it.

...the conservative jihad against college degrees....

I've not heard of this, other than Santorum's oft-misunderstood remark about Obama's snobbery. Regardless, the most rewarding job I had (other than my time in the USAF) occurred shortly after I got out: I was teaching economics and marketing (!) at a private junior college in El Paso.

I had the occasional high school grad who was there only because he hadn't found anything else to do, but these weren't bad students for that. Most of my students, though were adults, some middle-aged, and nearly all holding down day jobs, too. They were there because they wanted to make something more of themselves than their existing educations would let them, and they weren't interested in the trades, which are a fine alternative to college degrees.

These were folks who knew empirically the value of what they were doing, and they were highly dedicated, and rewarding to teach, students.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at March 22, 2012 04:11 PM

I spent the last two years I was in the USAF as a technical instructor, never had two words to say to anyone until I left my comfort zone and attended instructor training and pinned on the flying "ice cream cone". Ended up teaching an advanced course with three weeks of lecture (six hours a day) and then two weeks of "hands on" to a maximum class size of five. Loved every day of it.
Per Eric's note these were career people that were engaged in the process.

Have to admit when I did decide to tackle my BBA/ MA that I looked forward to the Business Law courses and enjoyed them the most!

Posted by: Sysphus at March 22, 2012 06:14 PM

On a roll now, my wonderful wife did also spend some time cleaning base housing units wnen folks moved on. Hard work, your comments about the window cleaning brought memories rushing back, she had a terrible time with the windows and the inspector, I spent some time helping her clean for inspections, I was not much better but we got though it. I think it was the window issue that motivated her to put up her bucket!

Posted by: Sysphus at March 22, 2012 06:22 PM

I've not heard of this, other than Santorum's oft-misunderstood remark about Obama's snobbery.

Eric, I wasn't thinking of Santorum, but of the higher education bubble meme. I have no problem with people saying that people shouldn't take out loans they can't afford (that's kind of obvious). Deficit spending has never been a great idea regardless of whether you're a government, a family, or an individual.

I do have a problem with people (who all have college and in most cases advanced degrees) lecturing the unwashed masses about how more people should drop out of college.

To me that makes no more sense than saying that more people should *go* to college. Going to college (and which college, and whether you'll go FT or PT, and whether you'll take loans) is an individual decision. On average, college grads make more and are FAR less vulnerable to unemployment.

If you choose not to go to college, you are limiting the jobs you can apply for. You're also going to have to contend with a job market in which many jobs have been replaced by automation.

If you have a degree, you don't have to put it on your resume but if you don't have one (and the job requires one), your changes of being considered are between slim and none.

I think people with degrees who advise kids (especially boys) to drop out should spend a few years looking for a job without being able to cite their degree. Or they could just look at the unemployment stats for people with various degrees of education.

It might adjust their thinking somewhat :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 22, 2012 06:27 PM

The inspectors were awful.

One used to unscrew light switch plates and fail you if there was dust behind them. I kid you not.

We were cleaning one house and I took the fan cover off the range hood to spray degreaser up there (yes, they checked this). I put my hand up the vent pipe and a horde of angry yellow jackets came swarming out.

I will never know why they didn't sting me, but we had to leave and get hornet spray. That house had shrubs that were so overgrown that I can't believe they were allowed to stay in housing. While cutting them away from the eaves of the house, I found 3 more HUGE hornet's nests.

Another house had so much mold in the bathrooms that I had to use chlorine bleach and swab the whole room down.

But I hated windows the most. Getting them streak free when you're racing the clock to finish is not fun.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 22, 2012 06:56 PM

I think people with degrees who advise kids (especially boys) to drop out should spend a few years looking for a job without being able to cite their degree. Or they could just look at the unemployment stats for people with various degrees of education.

Here you go, then. I have three Master's degrees and two years toward my doctorate. I've used--formally, although no education is wasted--zero of that education in my various careers. I also have all five (baby) networking certifications Cisco Systems offers. I have no job in networking.

In truth, only one of those degrees did I have fun at and look forward to doing something with (and it has, indirectly, helped my investing), the others were square-fillers. And so were the two years toward my doctorate. I actually could, in some jurisdictions, take one of those Master's, hang out my shingle, and get rich treating diseases of the rich. That would be dishonest, though, so I don't.

Oh, yeah, when I got out of the USAF, I was unemployed for three years (other than the GI Bill). When I walked away from a defense contractor job, I was unemployed for 13 weeks. Since I walked away from my last job, I've been unemployed for going on my fourth year. Maybe my cred counts for something, then. Oh, and I've taken zilch in unemployment "benefits," or any other form of support. That's what managing one's money when one has it accomplishes.

College isn't for everyone. Some folks are better off in the trades. Yes, by and large, degreed persons earn more money than non-degreed. Yes, by and large, degreed persons are more employable in a broad range of jobs.

Money, above a threshold, isn't everything. Before I'd advise anyone to go for an academic degree rather than a license--or the other way around--I'd investigate with that person what his goals are, how well he understood his own goals, how well he understood the frangibility of his own goals.

There aren't any blanket answers.

And I haven't heard anyone advising to drop out. I have heard folks advising to not go (or to go).

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at March 22, 2012 07:14 PM

The question isn't whether you've used your degrees/education, Eric.

The question is how many jobs you qualify for without a degree. Certainly your experience counts for something, but the broad unemployment statistics also count for something (and represent the experience of far more than one or two people).

I haven't argued that college is for everyone. I'm a big fan of community colleges and trade schools. In fact, when I had so much trouble getting hired after I graduated, I seriously considered a trade school but I ended up working for free for a while and they liked my work enough to hire me.

Before I'd advise anyone to go for an academic degree rather than a license--or the other way around--I'd investigate with that person what his goals are, how well he understood his own goals, how well he understood the frangibility of his own goals. There aren't any blanket answers.

That's why I said it's an individual decision. My two boys have very similar degrees but their careers are 180 out from each other. So is their income.

These were choices, though. They have what they want and both are very happy. And I'm equally proud of them.

re: advising kids to drop out, I accept that you may not have heard that, but I have - several places:

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/tech/PayPal-Founder-Will-Pay-Kids-to-Drop-Out-of-School-104878984.html

Instapundit:

MARCH 9, 2012
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Tuning In To Dropping Out.

And then there's this.

http://www.wiredacademic.com/2012/01/unemployment-data-most-bleak-for-high-school-and-college-drop-outs/

Posted by: Cassandra at March 22, 2012 07:30 PM

The question is how many jobs you qualify for without a degree.

No--it's how many jobs you actually get. The degree or its absence only influences the breadth of options.

The PayPal founder wasn't advocating dropping out per se; he was offering money to go do something immediately useful, rather than pursuing a degree just because it's "the right thing to do."

The article Instapundit cited also wasn't advocating dropping out for its own sake--it wasn't denigrating "higher education" at all--it was just discussing differing paths to differing ideas of what constitutes useful "higher education." I didn't chase Wired Academic's view.

Absent that third one, unless I'm missing stuff, I still haven't heard an argument to drop out for its own sake. Only to quit doing this and do that instead; it'll likely be more productive.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at March 22, 2012 08:26 PM

The number of jobs one qualifies for is related to the chances of not being able to find a job. If you don't qualify for half the jobs on the market, your chances will be lower than if you qualify for 2/3 of the jobs.

As for the PayPal guy, the vast majority of new businesses fail. And they're started by adults. Paying a bunch of kids to start a new business may work with one or two kids, but it's unlikely to be successful across the board.

There have been scores of articles over the last few years about the higher ed bubble. I'm quite happy to accept that you may never have seen what I've seen. I'm sure there are thousands of articles out there that I have never read, but I don't think that's evidence that they don't exist.

Only that I haven't seen them :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 22, 2012 09:46 PM

If you don't qualify for half the jobs on the market, your chances will be lower than if you qualify for 2/3 of the jobs.

But I only have actually to get one of them. As with terrorists, that's purely a numbers game. And I suspect your lower paying jobs involved a whole lot fewer resumes pumped out and a whole lot less pavement pounded to get, than the jobs with the degrees. Didn't someone mention a bit ago something about, once having obtained a degree, then having to work for awhile pro bono before being hired for pay?

I've never argued that the higher ed bubble argument doesn't exist--like you, the fact that I've not seen it doesn't mean anything beyond that simple fact. But the articles cited don't seem to talk about the bubble, just about the utility of one version of higher ed.

As to start-ups, paying a bunch of kids to go for it isn't different than VCs paying a bunch of adults to go for it. In either case, they're being given a low probability of success shot at doing something other than what they're doing. Most will fail--whether with VCs' money or with the PayPal guy's money in particular. I suggest that's better than failing with taxpayer money, which is what happens when the only reason for going to school--and borrowing large sums of money to do that, and then all too often walking away from that debt--is because it's "the right thing to do." Most of those fail, also, even though they might have jobs. They're failing because the jobs are crap (in the eyes of the worker), and so the worker's productivity isn't what it might be. And when they choose to welch on their student loans, they're failing there, too--and we get the bill.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at March 22, 2012 11:28 PM

When we talk about whether more kids should drop out, we're not talking about individual changes, but aggregate chances.

And I suspect your lower paying jobs involved a whole lot fewer resumes pumped out and a whole lot less pavement pounded to get, than the jobs with the degrees.

You'd be wrong there. The effort was about the same. When you have a HS degree and no (or very little, or gapped) work experience and you're competing with a town or city full of military wives who have been working all along, even crappy jobs are hard to find.

The single most frequent way I got hired before college was word of mouth/networking. IOW, having someone on the inside. And the single most frequent way I got hired post college (though that's a smaller sample) was networking. The company that hired me had already passed on my resume because [drum roll] I had a 4.0 and they thought that might mean I'd be hard to work with. Also I had no local work references (same problem I had applying for lower paying jobs).

...the articles cited don't seem to talk about the bubble, just about the utility of one version of higher ed.

The articles cited weren't even ones I'd read recently. I've been reading articles for years about this, but didn't go back and try to find them because I don't have time.

On failing, people tend to fail when they don't have enough skin in the game. That's equally true of college or life. So I fail to see how giving someone money to start a business (as opposed to the business owner having to pound the pavement and find a backer) is going to work much better than giving a kid a loan (instead of him having to earn the money for college and sweat not being *able* to attend, as opposed to having other people pressure him to attend).

The difference is motivation. And effort. And being personally invested in the outcome.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 23, 2012 05:25 AM

The single most frequent way I got hired before college was word of mouth/networking.

With our sample size of two, maybe it's a guy-girl thing. My no-education jobs--including that AO Smith one, which paid well enough that two summers paid for a year at that private college--were all walk-ons. I only had to pound the pavement and shoot lots of resumes after I got all those vaunted degrees. Of course the range of those degrees, and their number, were themselves an indicator: I didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up. I still don't, but that's for a different thread.

...how giving someone money to start a business (as opposed to the business owner having to pound the pavement and find a backer)....

The PayPal guy was only giving out six (as I recall) VC-like investments. VCs generally only give out so many such investments. Depending on interest level, that sounds to me like a lot of pavement pounding from a potentially large number of folks competing for the PayPal VC's money, just like a lot of pavement pounding by a much larger n competing for money from one of a group of VCs.

...better than giving a kid a loan....

No argument here--the wisdom of this is demonstrated by the appalling rate at which these borrowers elect to walk away from their loans--even with the extremely generous repayment terms of such loans, ranging from no requirement to start repaying until the borrower actually gets a job (within a time frame after graduation) to one case (by the way it was offered, it seemed typical) where a law school I was looking at a couple of years ago said I could get a government-guaranteed student loan to cover the entire legal education, and it would be entirely forgiven if I just worked in the Ft Worth DA's office for a time after graduation.

Tying the two together, as you did originally, I see a world of difference between competing for a limited number of VC investments and getting a loan, free for the asking, to go to school.

It is the lack of skin. But the successful competitors for the VC's investment/loan have more skin in their game than does the student who can borrow money just because he exists. Whether those competitors dropped out of college to compete or are seasoned business people.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at March 23, 2012 08:40 AM

If you aren't cut out for the scholastic life, it seems like you'd better have a good trade. There aren't that many great jobs out there for someone of no particular education or training. But the trades are a good way to go for the many, many people for whom academia is a bad idea. There's so little point in spending years racking up huge bills to take a degree in Studies Studies.

Or, if you're self-taught and highly self-motivated, there's always starting a business. That one is so far beyond my aptitudes that I have no real idea how people do it.

Posted by: Texan99 at March 23, 2012 10:37 AM

...there's always starting a business. That one is so far beyond my aptitudes that I have no real idea how people do it.

Start selling your weaving output. Watch your sales grow. That's how Michael Dell did it.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at March 23, 2012 10:55 AM

If you aren't cut out for the scholastic life, it seems like you'd better have a good trade. There aren't that many great jobs out there for someone of no particular education or training. But the trades are a good way to go for the many, many people for whom academia is a bad idea.

Couldn't agree more. My oldest boy went into police work largely because (although he's smart as can be) he really couldn't see himself behind a desk.

I made some decent money selling crafts (Christmas ornaments, wreaths, etc.) when my boys were in middle school. I was doing it anyway for Christmas gifts and just made extra to sell. My problem is that I don't like making the same thing over and over. I was always more of a one-of-a-kind crafter, which makes any kind of volume difficult.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 23, 2012 11:04 AM

Before college, I did little; hauled some hay, dug stumps out of a lady's yard, not much pay for not much work. My Dad believed in work, but kids were supposed to be getting an education, and we lived five miles outside the city limits; transportation back and forth to a part-time job would have been challenging.
Once in college,much the same; engineering development foundation scholarship paid my first year (except minor expenses), Dad paid for the rest. Left college with a B.S. in chemical engineering, it fed me and my family for twenty years.
During that time worked for several companies, as a R&D researcher, unit operator (during strike) in an oil refinery, purchasing agent, process engineer and project engineer (for four or five different companies, too lazy to look up my own resume just now). Got laid off two weeks before Christmas in 2001, tried to get another job for 18 months, nothing panned out; went back to school, got a M.S. in chemical engineering, now hoping to graduate a Ph.D. in material science in August (crossed fingers!)
I've done lots of industrial / chemical / manufacturing / design / build kind of stuff; we'll see what the future holds. Right now, one of my side gigs is buying soda and shipping it to a QC lab in Missouri for testing; helps pay the bills / make ends meet for a family of four on a graduate student stipend. I live below the poverty line, but I live.

Posted by: Jim at March 23, 2012 01:40 PM

Boner. Got to put that on my tax return once.

Pumped gas for JCPenney. In Illinois. In the late 70s. In the winter. Didn't care for it.

Orderly. Learned how to make beds properly, with fitted sheets. Recovery room aide. Surgical suite cleanup. Saw a couple of operations, and I understand why people are sore afterward. Orderly on psych ward. Playing cards with schizophrenics is frustrating. I learned that the quiet room is where they strap you down onto a bed in a soundproof room so you won't bother everyone else. Delivery room cleanup. Did you know that baby's first poop (merconium) is very difficult to get off floors? They left the placentas for us to send to the lab.

Census enumerator, complete with cheap but official plastic ID badge.

Janitor and laundry in nursing home. Learned to appreciate country music because it was the only station we got and it beat listening to the dryers. Janitor in theater.

Now I make metal halide pellets for high intensity discharge lamps.

Posted by: Chris at March 25, 2012 09:19 AM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)