May 11, 2009

Twenty Somethings in the News: Recessions can change everything

unemployed jedi
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 The oldest, Matt (24-years-old), had accepted a job offer, but it was retracted when the economy fell apart in the fall and the company put on a hiring freeze.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 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?


  1. I think it's crazy that the "resession" is really affecting you! Here in New Mexico, and with my current job on campus all I have had to deal with is hour cuts. I was planning on working 40 hours a week, now I am being limited to 20, which means I just need to find another job...

    I hope things get better for you though,

  2. Things aren't horrible for me. Apart from pay cuts and limiting options, I still have a job and my group at work is growing. :) I do live in one of the states hardest hit by unemployment, though, so I know a lot of others going through this right now.

  3. Recession doesn't hit Indonesia all that bad, but still although no notable numbers of people getting laid off it's still hard to get a job sometimes. Many people end up not doing what they're studying for. :(

    I hope you're alright.

  4. As a fellow Oregonian, I too am really feeling the impact. We have now reached 17% unemployment in the great state of Oregon, Portland, our city, suffering the most.
    I think its becoming more visual now too. Everyone is talking about it in every bar. Beer prices have come down to console our unemployed friends.

    I, myself, am an artist/writer. I live and breathe music, art, performance, and all things right brained. However, I am just another cubicle drone in Downtown PDX, plucking away at a computer, trying to push healthcare. true, our hospitals and clinics are on every corner, and we're feeling little impact compared to other large healthcare providers..but still.... I stay here because the pay is good and the job security is great. I'm not worried about being laid off or fired.
    It pays the bills, and I can just go to shows and paint when I'm not at work.
    Why trade that security right now when the chances of ending up on the street are so realistic?

  5. It's affected me in that I'm constantly checking job sites and postings juuust in case. I'm feeling more pressure to perform at work, to be 100% billable (I work at an ad agency) and stay as busy as possible and involved in the industry. I'm on the lookout for new business opportunities for the agency more than usual, too. And I worry about job security more. But who doesn't?