Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mitchel Stevens' Guide to Employment and Bubble Bust

Editor's Note: The following column is part of an anonymous weekly humor column chronicling the struggle of a new, young journalist out in the working world. You may find the author's previous posts in the archives. --The Ed.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Grey Dog Café today, Internet readers. I sat down with an ice cold lemonade and waited for my scrumptious reuben sandwich when I found an odd “No Subject” email from my boss at part-time job #432.

It turns out that despite being a wonderful employee for the last two months, I was being released from my contract. The company was going to do more with the PR aspect, the site was going to be redesigned, they needed to save money for an actual web designer, it was a Tuesday, etc. You know how those things go.

But I couldn’t say that I was sad to see the job go. Sure, they were the first company I applied to that got back to me within a week. One of the countless Craigslist jobs I scoured, they seemed like good people when I interviewed. But the job itself was a bit—uh—lacking.

Okay, so maybe it was a crappy online job with barely-standard wages, little to no chance of mobility and near impossible to self-motivate.

But it promised $300 a month. And when it takes you five jobs to net in a standard triple digit sum plus other freelancing work just to buy groceries and save up for the apartment, anything looks good.

That’s the moral of the story in the Washington City Paper this week with "Wanted: Gullible Lawyers." The 34-year old author (and victim) relates how $14,000 has a funny way of making even the dumbest, most obvious scam seem like a marketable wonder.

When considering the online business, that’s basically all we have. When interviewing last week at an established newspaper, my interviewer gleefully laughed and talked about her own nephew’s foray into the online industry.

“Oh, you kids are so lucky,” she said. “You’re constantly jumping from job to job. It must be so exciting!”

Yes, having no stability, no benefits, no guarantee that I can afford the security deposit on that Bedford Avenue apartment or that my roommates will be employed next month is a great benefit to myself and my career. Why, as I wrote last week, I love juggling a number of jobs with no set pay who demand more hours constantly while taking one single job offers a real paycheck—but demands I focus solely on their work.

I don’t mind being told to focus. But like my generation, I do enjoy actually working on things productive to me. Of course I’ll write listings, but I also like to interview and write stories that will be read—not just “TODAY—LIVE MUSIC AT EVENT. FUN FOR WHOLE FAMILY. $302, A/C/E TO 126TH ST.”

This myth is even better with the bloggers, who are worked like AP wire reporters but given the illusion that they have an easier, more fun job.

Then again, I do need a new job to replace #432. Hmm, maybe Gawker’ll fill that new position—oh, who am I kidding? It’s totes going to LOLCait.

Anyway, I’ll see you kids next week. In the mean time, I’ll reapply to that AP Editorial Assistant position for the sixth time this week, since they keep reposting it over and over. Clearly they’re not getting my résumé.


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