Part blog, part oral history, part research project.
How has the Great Recession affected your path beyond college? What is your story?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Making Dreams Reality

So, after a summer of looking for the perfect job, or frankly any job, I have decided to pretend as if someone was paying me to do what I love. Simply, I love collecting stories, (i.e., qualitative research) answering questions and uncovering truths by seeking out and listening to people's experiences. My hero, Studs Terkel, a nonacademic, went out with a tape recorder a generation ago and collected stories about people and their jobs. The result of his work, a book called Working, also ended up being about a lot of other things: the Great Depression, the malaise felt by most working Americans and the gap between social classes. I don't see why I can't follow in Terkel's footsteps now.

It seems like almost every day for the past few years I hear the current recession being compared to the Great Depression. It sure feels like it. People are relearning how to grow, cook and preserve food for themselves. The numbers of the official unemployed only ever seem to grow or remain steady and the typical length of unemployment stretches to a year or more.

Some of my friends and I--most of us "recession grads"--aren't doing what we thought we would be doing after graduation. Some of us are still looking for both a dream job and anything to pay the bills. Others have settled for something unrelated to their discipline. Some have taken jobs with less responsibility and compensation. One or two have landed on their feet and are at their dream jobs. A few have created jobs for themselves--starting a nonprofit or a small business.

I want to collect these stories...So if you have or know anyone who has graduated from college or graduate school since fall 2007, please contact me at I will edit and post some of what I learn here and invite comments and analysis. Ultimately, if I get a large and diverse enough sample, I will code and analyze the transcripts and write my own analysis of the data.

Wish me luck!


  1. Dude, I'm there! Get in touch with me! This is soooo awesome! Why are you so smart Melissa? Hmmmm? Why?

  2. This is a great idea! A qual research project using blogging technology. I love it. I'm sure the data you gather is going to be awesome. I'm in a qual research methods course right now, so I have a great appreciation for what you're trying to do.

    By the way, I don't know if you would have any interest in this, but SERP is looking for research assistants to observe select San Francisco public school classrooms. Pay is $20 p. hour, mileage is reimbursed, and you need to be available for a 2-4 week period between mid-october and mid-november. you can look at their site:

    In case you were wondering if this is one of those things where people leave random links on your blog, I came to your post through a mutual friend who posted it on facebook. Feel free to get back to me if you're interested in the gig.

    And, good luck with the project!

  3. @cinelliclaudia
    Thanks for the props! Please spread the word...

    Thank you for the kind words! I'm not exactly sure on how to best contact you, but I might be interested in the SERP temp position. Feel free to contact me at