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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Researcher check-in

It's been about a month and a half since I first launched this project and I thought this would be a good time to check in and tell you how it is going. I've spoken with 10 recession grads, some holding bachelor's degrees, others with master's in hand. 8 women, 2 men. 4 states, 5 universities. 7 have jobs, only two are employed in a job related to her field of study. Of those two, one has been laid off since the interview.

So, where are these stories? Well, once I've conducted an interview, I then transcribe, code and edit it into a short narrative. This process can take a great deal of time. I do promise to keep posting stories as soon as I have them typed up. I imagine that as the holidays approach, I will spend less time interviewing and more time getting these stories to you.

About you. Since October, this project has been viewed 494 times in 8 different countries. However, since that very first post, no one has commented. So, if you're really out there, and you have comments or opinions about the issues raised by the folks I interview, please add your two cents!

Additionally, I need your help. I don't have any interview candidates who graduated from community college. I have few interviews with men. Most of my interviews were with people who went to school in northern California. Do you know anyone who graduated from community college or university in the U.S. since 2007? Please send them my Spread the word! I want all sorts of stories and experiences. I can only do this with your help. I look forward to hearing from you.


  1. Melissa- I really do enjoy reading what you post. I am not a recession grad, which is why I haven't posted to this point, but I stopped going to college when I did because I realized that I would never earn nearly the money I was making in retail teaching where I lived at the time. Now I'm back here where teaching is a competitive sport practically and teachers are getting laid off left and right because levies won't pass due to the economy. Although I really dislike working in retail, feel often like I sold my goals for the promise of a dollar and hope someday to do something meaningful, I am fortunate to have a job.

    I admire your project and would love to share more with you if/when you come and visit. I think this project would make a fabulous book...something you should consider. Keep it up though- it is bracing to know that others hold my viewpoint, if only because the economy has temporarily stalled their successes.

  2. Hmm. But is it temporary? Someone told me that people who graduate in a recession never DO make up for that. When the recession ends, recent grads do better than those who graduated during the recession and then were jobless or at less than satisfactory jobs (part-time or low paid or not in your career path/trajectory). According to this theory, lifetime earnings are less and it takes longer to "climb" the ladder in your chosen field. If you can even climb as high as your colleagues who graduated in more flush economic times.

  3. If you are talking about a general wage gap in pay-per-hour or base salary, what you described sounds a bit like what I experienced with being put on the "mommy track". However, if you graduate in a period of low or no employment (or were to take maternity leave, say) and have little or no income, it only makes sense that "lifetime earnings" would be less than someone who came out of the gate at full employment. Although it may be through no fault of one's own, over the course of a lifetime, there is less time at or in position if you are un- or under-employed right out of college. Of course you can't make that up if you cannot get back lost time.
    My hope for those of you that this has affected is that it is temporary, but I think the business world is a fickle lover... what matters to me much more than earning potential is my personal satisfaction, feeling like I make a positive contribution to society and my community. All my personal opinion, of course, with no disrespect meant.