Monday, November 22, 2010

Some Press

In April, right before getting her new job, your MatchGirl was featured in the Finnish newspaper Aamulehti.  If anyone knows Finnish, feel free to let me know what it says about me!



Without work but full of energy
A fighter: a New York bachelor of arts has been actively applying for jobs for 6 months without success.

B.C. from New York lost her job 18 months ago, but hasn't let it get her down. "I was let go in November 2008. I'd been working in DEX New York-fashion company as an executive producer for three years and just couldn't believe I was being let go. I considered myself an integral part of the company and good at my job. The reasons they gave me were related to production and the economy. The first couple of months were depressing. I missed the job, the daily rhythm it created and my colleagues. I spent a lot of time at home by myself not doing anything.
After a few months I reasoned with myself that I couldn't take the dismissal personally in this economic climate. I've been applying for jobs constantly, honing my CV and my application and training for interview situations thousands of times. Still, I haven't had luck in landing a job.
I have a bachelor's degree in arts. Because of my degree and my job experience, I'd really rather not go for an underpaid trainee position. At the moment it feels like, however, that there's little else on offer. And the competition is tough. Last week in an interview I was told that they picked me out of 450 applicants, which is encouraging."

Saved by a blog
"New York is an expensive place to live, but I seem to get by ok. I recieve 1720 dollars in unemployment benefits per month. I live with my friend in Brooklyn in an apartment with a rent of 1700 dollars a month. A lot of my friends are also unemployed which isn't surprising given that the country's unemployment rate is nearly 10%. I know a few people who see their lack of employment as such a disgrace that they haven't even told their parents about it. There's a huge risk that they'll get depressed and isolated. My savior has been my blog.
The now nearly one year old Unemployed In Brooklyn blog started receiving comments from other unemployed people almost immediately after its launch and these days it enjoys a tight knit but wide community. The blog has 1500 individual readers per month and we meet up with the most active readers regularly. The group has brought a lot of joy to my life and some unbelievable friendships. The most important part though, has been the peer support. Who knows, I might even find my next job through this community."
Your family connections?
I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with a gay friend who I consider a part of my family these days. My parents and one of my sisters live in Boston, another sister lives in Los Angeles.
What do you do in your spare time?
Anything free. I meet friends, go out or visit the library. I don't shop.
What do you watch on the TV?
After I was let go I would watch TV around the clock until the morning soaps really started to bum me out. Now I only watch my favourites like Mad Men, Millionaire Matchmaker and Top Chef.
Do you dream about traveling?
Being unemployed I can't afford to travel even if I have the time and the will. As an employed person I would treat myself to weekend trips.
Do you watch your energy consumption?
Electricity is so expensive in the US that you have to control your use. Fortunately heating and hot water are included in the rent.
How would you describe your diet?
I try to eat healthy and avoid red meat. But occasionally I'll succumb to a hamburger in a restaurant. I cook a lot at home and favour local produce. I enjoy baking and my Nutella-oatmeal cookies are my biggest weakness.
Are you concerned over healthcare issues?
I feel healthy and in good shape. But since my income is so small, I don't have a health insurance and suddenly falling ill is a concern for me.

(Image caption: "I live frugally and often have to say no to temptation. To prevent myself from living outside my means, I cut my credit cards in half after I'd been unemployed for 6 months")
Thanks to my dear friend Diana, I've gotten a translation of this article.  Some of the facts are off - I'd been looking for a job for longer than six months; I was the Operations Manager at DEX; and I haven't had a credit card since 2001 (though it's probably more interesting to make up a quote like the one above - journalistically not cool, but ...  eh.).  But it's still pretty cool to be featured in a huge newspaper in Finland!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Will Anything Come From The Lame Duck?

It's that time again, gentle readers, when Congress returns to Washington to sit on their bums and get pretty much nothing done.  Yep.  It's another lame duck session.  Your MatchGirl would like to believe that the Congress-people and Senators will do their due diligence and decide about a few things that are on their agenda.  Your MatchGirl would like to believe that they will not just bide their time, waiting for the new session to begin in 2011 and a partisan rivalry to throw the country into a standstill for the next two years.

For unemployeds, there is only one true issue - I mean, it's great if they vote on the 20 bills they've got lined up - but, dear ones, there is only one bill that matters to you right now.  One they need to vote on before November 30, 2010.  And that is the extension of unemployment benefits.  If Congress doesn't vote before this date, before the Thanksgiving recess, then upwards of 2 million people could be left with no safety net.  No matter your thoughts on the unemployed in this country - whether you think they are milking the system, they are lazy or you really know the truth - there are a lot of people who rely heavily on those benefits - to feed their families, to pay their rent, to get their heat turned on - and it's not fair, entering the holiday season, especially,  to leave them so literally out in the cold.

This morning I heard a figure on the radio - I can't recall the source they were quoting - that said for every one dollar put into unemployment benefits, two dollars go back into the community.  This means that those people collecting benefits (people like you and formerly me), are buoyed by this tiny bit of income these benefits provide and they are paying them back to the economy - into the MTA, into the indie bookstore down the block, into Walmart, into the bodega, into church collection baskets, into grocery stores and farmer's markets.  Here is a place where math as most of us understand it does not make sense.  Here is a place where one equals two.

Your MatchGirl is no economist.  But hey, neither are most of the people who are sitting in the House and Senate right now.  Goodness knows, there has to be a better way.  But she knows one thing, gentle ones, she knows that any math you do that makes one equal two is only good math in this economy.  Sure, job creation is paramount - unemployment extensions are no magic salve, merely a Band-Aid on the wound - but those jobs will take time to create and fill.  It cannot happen overnight.  They will certainly not be created in the next few weeks nor, realistically speaking, the next few years.

There is no instant solution to the massive problems in joblessness, malemployment and unemployment in this country, but if the lame duck Congress does just one thing right in the next handful of weeks it will be to pass another unemployment extension.  This is important.  This matters.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Malemployed

malemployed:
When what you do for a living makes you want to kill yourself.
I re-edit text that has already been edited in India; I am so malemployed.
-Urban Dictionary

I heard this word the other day, listening to The Takeaway on WNYC, while getting ready for work.  This, gentle readers, was not a word that your MatchGirl had heard before.  Apparently, according to reporter Beth Kobliner, it's a word coined in the 1970s, during that decade's high unemployment levels.  And with unemployment rates, on record, at nearly 10% country-wide - and actual unemployment teetering at closer to 20% - because the record does not take into account those people whose unemployment insurance has run out and those people who are no longer actively searching for jobs - what is there, realistically, out there, besides malemployment?

While I may have never heard the term before, being malemployed is something with which your MatchGirl is very very familiar.  And, while I studied art and that is the kind of things that educated artists often are - waiting tables, working retail, pouring coffee - all while having fancy degrees, it is not something that most people should be.  It is not something that most people expect to be.

The word malemployed is interesting to me, though, in its difference to underemployed.  I've been using them interchangeably for months upon months.  But they are two distinct things.  Underemployment -a term that I, and many like me, have been using to define both those people who are working jobs that are "below" (for lack of a better word) them and those people who are working, but not enough - refers simply to the fact that the person does not have enough work.  It doesn't matter what that work is.  Malemployment, on the other hand, defines those people who are working, but are working at jobs well under their eduction or career level.

When I was unemployed, most of what I thought about was getting a job and, at the beginning, dear ones, getting a job that was better and more interesting than the one from which I was laid off.  Towards the end of my unemployment, dear readers, is when your MatchGirl started giving serious thought to giving in to malemployment - to taking a job that would be well below her education and her work experience, simply to sustain - barely at that - some semblance of life.  Because at that point a job - ANY JOB - would have done.  I'm glad that things did not come to that, but I am also very aware that they could have very easily gone down that path.

For those of you unlucky enough to be among the malemployed, some links you might find interesting:

Our soul-crushingly indistinguishable jobs are the Darwinistic extension of Henry Ford’s assembly line.  Our jobs are interchangeable parts designed to be quick, cheap and easy to replace even by an HR person.  All to keep labor costs down and drive profits ever higher to satisfy investors and Jim Cramer’s Mad Money crew.  And we know why we stay – we need the money and there is nothing else out there.
Please Fire Me



Malemployment represents the inability of a college graduate to find a job that effectively uses the knowledge, skills and abilities acquired in college and relegates them to employment in low-skill and generally low-wage occupations that don’t utilize college-level proficiencies. Since the skills of the malemployed remain largely unused by employers, they experience considerable wage losses.
The New England Board of Higher Education



Recent college grads are facing underemployment  or “malemployment,” meaning that they are working at jobs that do not require a college degree.  Professor of Economics at Northeastern University Andrew Sum estimates that during the first half of 2010, more than 50 percent of young B.A.-holders were employed at jobs not requiring a college degree.
Edu In Review

What do you think, gentle ones, are the jobs you are finding - whether ones you've take on or ones your applying to in dire hopes they'll call you back -do these job represent the crisis of malemployment in the country today?  Do you think there is anything that any of us can do about it?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Reflections

The other day, gentle readers, a wise friend sent me a birthday message wishing me a happy new year.  And your MatchGirl thinks that this is the passage of time that deserves reflection.  Resolutions? Perhaps.  I'm not so sure.  But reflection, most certainly.

Your MatchGirl had a wonderful birthday weekend.  I celebrated in Greenpoint and Williamsburg - with old friends and new and some who I was lucky enough to meet through this blog.  On Sunday, Boyfriend and I drove out to the Hamptons and took a walk along the Autumnal (his word) beach.

All in all, it was a good weekend.  There is nothing that I would have done differently.

As readers of this little page know, a lot has changed for your MatchGirl in the past 12 months.  I'm no longer unemployed.  I'm not so much single.  I've done things and met people in this past year that I could not have imagined on the eve of my 34th birthday.  And I could not feel more lucky for it.

Thank you, all, for this year.

Here's to the next.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Space And Place

Ah, gentle readers, your MatchGirl has made a resolution to herself to spend more time writing in this little space.  I want to write to you more about what I hear about unemployment issues and underemployment; about health insurance (or your lack thereof); of boys and dating; of how it all somehow comes together and draws parallel lines in life.

I am in a space where I have been at my new job for about 7 months.  Long enough that I cannot call it my "new" job.  It's my job.  Though, after a year and a half sharing this unemployed world with you, it still feels like a new job.  It feels like a new life. 

And that, gentle readers, makes it harder for me to write for you here.  To focus my mind, even for an hour or two a day - and we all know there are not enough hours in the day, as is - on the struggles that are still happening every day for the unemployed and the underemployed, to the issues that I still care a great deal about, takes me to another place.

I have it pretty good, I think, in this work place that I'm in - frustrating though it may be some days.  I get to write on the company blog - and I get to write posts that I'm proud of.  I got to travel to Bogotá, Colombia.  I get to work with a whole bunch of cool people (located in a lot of different offices, all over the world).  But now I am at the place where I need to seriously figure out my next move in that world.  Or, more importantly, how to actually make it happen.

Dear readers, your MatchGirl, feels very lucky to be employed.  I feel in a good place to be plotting my future.  To wrap my head around where I can make things lead in my work life.  To be comfortable enough to relax and see where things will lead in my love life (and yes, there is, and it's a whole separate story). 

Over all, gentle ones, your MatchGirl feels like she is in a very good place.

I hope you are all on your way there, too.