Serving can be deeply satisfying work, physically and emotionally; I’ve rarely felt more in my body than on those days when I got the math right, pulled the lever down on the espresso machine as I reached for the next cup, knocked out ninety drinks in an hour. But service isn’t considered lesser than other professions because it’s less honorable, or even requires fewer skills. I’d love to see a graphic designer take apart each component of an ancient espresso machine for which no manual exists, or watch a fact-checker talk a junkie out of a bathroom without getting the police involved. The knowledge required to read a customer, to justify the processes and origins of that $12 cup of coffee, is just as specialized as knowing what a nut graph is. And, to be perfectly real, this is New York, and America, and the world; just a couple steps up the food chain, we’re all serving someone.
These jobs are seen as lesser because we made them this way. We built our brave new urban economy on an ever-specializing transient workforce, an army of lifestyle brand ambassadors without the business cards or the 401(k). Best of luck being a good enough bartender to get some health insurance out of the deal, or even enough hours on the clock to make rent. Who knows what happens after 40, if you haven’t managed to open your own little street-level franchise amidst the undiscovered ruins of yet another post-industrial district."
Max Novick has known he’s wanted to be a filmmaker for years, ever since he saw “A Clockwork Orange” and “Fight Club.” Since then, he’s set about making this happen. His resume is four pages long, filled with dozens of jobs—production assistant, director of photography, script supervisor—on independent and student films in the New York area.
He’s also only 16 years old, a junior at Roslyn High School in Long Island. The “jobs” have been unpaid volunteer opportunities—in other words, internships. He’s been “aggressively seeking this stuff out” since middle school.
“I just think, ‘What am I waiting for?’” he said. “Now’s the perfect time because I’m not in college so I don’t have to worry about getting paid…I’m really kind of future oriented.”"
Read more about high schoolers on their interning grind at Nbcnews.com. (P.S. Max Novick will be hiring us all in 10 years. Beware.)
This past April, facing the prospect of three 20-page papers due in the same week, Indiana University East student Harmony Glenn had a panic attack in the school library.
“I couldn’t breathe, and my chest felt tight,” she said. “I was asking myself, ‘Do I push forward…or do I cut my losses?’”
Glenn, 27, had been inching toward a bachelor’s degree since 2004, transferring schools and taking breaks from her studies to switch her major, live with her parents to save money, and later move around Indiana with her husband to chase the best-paying jobs. Lately, she’d been working fulltime as a sales associate for a skin care retailer in an Indianapolis mall, and didn’t have the bandwidth to focus on her schoolwork.
The night of her panic attack, she made a decision to leave school. “I just looked at the bills and realized this didn’t make sense anymore,” she said."
I wrote about the modern nightmare: having $60,000 worth of student loans and no degree to show for it.
I am from: Detroit, MI.
I currently live in: Detroit, MI.
I currently live with: Wife & Dog.
Level of education completed: Bachelors of Science.
Occupation: Bio/Computer Sci/Environmental Sci Teacher (High School).
Do you consider yourself an adult? Yes.
When did you become an adult? When I no longer was dependent on my parents.
10 years from now I see myself: Here. With children. Doing more or less the same thing.
How likely do you think it is that you will eventually get what you want out of life? Done. Love, community, friendship. I have been blessed to have gotten all of these.
What is the biggest concern in your life right now? Keeping my wife and my dog happy. Enjoying life.
A project after my own heart.
Do you know anyone (you?) who dropped out of college, and therefore has student debt but no diploma to show for it? Would love to hear from you. Email me at nona.aronowitz at nbcuni.com.
Back in the saddle again.
I explain how the post-recession economy has affected Millennials’ views on love and sex for the Roosevelt Institute’s new video series. Please excuse my upward glance…my interviewee was standing up :)
This is why Aaron keeps “joking” about moving to Jackson.
Installment #3: the Cleve!