On Sunday, the New York Times published an article about the Diamond family. The elder Diamonds had carefully prepared for retirement and for life as empty-nesters, once their sons completed college and moved on to greener pastures. However, the recession forced the entire to change their plans. Steve Diamond has come out of retirement to go back to work. Andrea Diamond is working for the first time in a long time, after being a stay-at-home mom for many years. And the two recently-graduated Diamond sons? Forced to move back home and live with mom and dad until the job market becomes more stable. The oldest, Matt (24-years-old), had accepted a job offer, but it was retracted when the economy fell apart in the fall and the company put on a hiring freeze.
What the article really drives home is how much the recession has affected even the best-laid plans. For those preparing for retirement, it has meant delaying those plans and remaining in or returning to the work force. For the young, it often means delaying independence and going into jobs that are lower-paying or outside of one's desired field.
This piece also highlights how attitudes toward careers have changed. Matt had always hoped to have a career in music, even having interned with a music house and performed well in the position. Though his father had suggested he go into something more practical and more profitable, Matt had argued for years that he would hold out for a career in music. His mother even encouraged him, arguing that if you want something badly enough, certainly you can make it happen. Now, though, Matt has started taking computer science classes and considering a more traditional track. "When I had the job at the music house, I was living my dream, but now it doesn’t seem live or die with music. I can always do music in my spare time."
I know I've felt this shift in my own field. I know many who are sticking with unsatisfactory work because they are afraid to take a cut in pay, are afraid to venture into a start-up or smaller company while the economy is still shaky, or because jobs are simply unavailable in certain sectors. I think there has certainly been a shifting away from looking for dream jobs to look for steady, safe work...at least in the short-term.
Do you feel that the recession has affected your field or your own career choices? Would you be doing things differently right now if there were no recession?