It’s not ideal, but many people my age have found ourselves working in a service industry after graduating college. I, for one, have been working retail pretty consistently in the 10 months since I graduated, and many of my friends have found themselves in the same boat. The truth of the matter is, it’s pretty hard to find an entry level job right after graduation unless you have some unreal connections, especially if you left school with a liberal arts degree like I did. A lot of those entry level positions are being swapped out for unpaid internships and the idea that you need to work your way up from there. But unpaid internships don’t pay the bills, and not everyone has the luxury of being able to move back home with their parents or have some way of subsidizing their rent and bills while they work for no pay.
I get asked all the time why I’m still working retail and why I don’t have a “real job.” The truth of the matter is that I can afford to live on my own for the most part with my wages from my retail job. I also work a (thankfully paid!) internship that is closer to the field that I want to be in. They’re not always glamorous between the two I am able to live on my own and afford all of my necessities. I am grateful to live in a part of the country with one of the highest minimum wages, but I also live in the part of the country with the highest cost of living and highest taxes, so I feel as though these balance out and I would be making proportionally the same as someone living in a different part of the country who makes a lower wage, but would have cheaper rent and cheaper taxes.
It’s really not something that should be seen as shameful, although that’s how its viewed by so many people. I don’t see anything wrong with working a job that gives you life skills that other employers are happy to see you have, that allows you the ability to live on your own (or if you’re living at home – allows you to put a bunch of money in savings to make things easier for you in the long run), and honestly allows you to network with a group of coworkers who may know someone in your desired field. I have friends who have gotten their current jobs in fields that they really wanted to end up in through people they met at their service industry job. We all have to do what we need to do to be able to love our lives, so lets stop putting each other down and start supporting each other for surviving and thriving!