At my wits end

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2003
At my wits end
11
Mon, 08-18-2003 - 7:27pm
Hello, I hope some of you are willing to listen and maybe help me out with some advice. I am having a hard time careerwise right now because of the economy. Actually I've been having a hard time since I moved out of my mother's house 5 years ago. I was 27, I am now 32. I've been temping for 5 years at various companies in the city I live in, and now I live in the city as opposed to the suburbs where I grew up. I couldn't afford to live there anyway on my own - you need to be able to pay for housing and a car. I had to move out because my mom was retiring to go live with her boyfriend. Even when I moved out I really had no real job prospects, but the economy was good, and I got a lot of long term assignments which enabled me to meet my expenses. I have an English degree, but that really leaves you with no prospects,so within a year of returning home from college after graduating, I got a paralegal certificate, thinking that would provide me with a road map for a career. How wrong I was. Law firms don't really hire paralegals unless they have a ton of experience. I got stuck doing assignments doing intense paperwork organization or simple stuff like that, where no one really interacts with you to show you things. But it paid the biils. But i still occasionally had to receive financial help from my mom and siblings. Well, after 9/11, assignments started drying up, I had to take unemployment and my family had to help me BIG TIME with my rent. My landlord is a very kind man and has not insisted that I leave my apartment as yet. I'm behind again, not as bad as I was at the end of last year, but I want help sooner so that doesn't happen again. My first round of unemployment was $800 a month, but now it's only $400. I can only cover my bills on that! So I asked my father a few weeks ago and he was so nice about it and he said he believed in me, etc, gave me pep speeches, etc. Well last night i saw him, and he started ranting and raving about my situation, saying I had taken money from my siblings and mom before, that I had only minimal office skills, did I think I was the only person in the world with problems, etc. I shouted back at him and cried as he was saying all this. This man (my father) has also had employment problems in his past which I remember vividly. My mother and he used to fight viciously over work and money to the point of getting violent with each other. In fact my father (he's 82) is now supported by his sister through a inheritance bequeathed through my grand father a long time ago. My aunt administrates it and distributes his share it to him. He also has his Social Security income. He probably had to ask her for help for me and she must have said no. My dad's sister and her husband put me and my siblings through college, and probably are tired of helping. Anyway, I am tired of dealing with my family and poverty. My dad said they would only help me if I moved back to the suburbs and let them run my affairs. I just don't know what to do. I feel caught in a cycle and I feel like my relations don't even like me! I actually want to put my things in storage and get on a train to California and live in a hotel room and temp until I find a job. I want to bid good bye to my mean family. My father is old and old fashioned and he doesn't understand how difficult it is to get a good career. This week I'm temping after a long dry spell, so I have some money. If anyone else has advice or knows how I feel I would appreciate hearing from you. Thanks for listening.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2003
Mon, 08-18-2003 - 9:41pm
I don't know how much help I can be but I do know that temping has terrible pay. I worked as a paralegal all my life. At one point I worked for the second largest law firm in my city and at that time - 14 years ago - I was earning $2,800 a month. I had been at the firm for 23 years when big changes came along and they got rid of a lot of the top people - I was one of them. I got another job immediately after being laid off, but the pay was only $2,200 a month. I had another couple of changes, including a stint where I qualified as a realtor. Then I went back to being a paralegal in a small firm until I took early retirement two years ago. I was then still earning $2,200 a month. I am not sure of the exact hourly pay but its around $15 an hour.

However, I decided to do some temp work last year. I was sent to a law firm - all I got was $9 an hour. I decided to give that up - I wasn't about to practice law for $9 an hour and that is what happens when you have 25 years experience.

What my advice would be is to make yourself a wonderful resume. If you have to pay a professional to help you with it, then so be it. Then you should apply for every legal job. Your problem is not with the legal profession - its with the temping. Get yourself a permanent job and your pay will double. I don't know where you live but in my City, which is in Canada a girl right out of secretarial school earns $1,700 or $1,800 a month.

You already have experience and I am sure you will get a job - just give up the slave labour - becuase that is what temping is!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2003
Mon, 08-18-2003 - 10:12pm
Well, forgive me for saying this, but I feel your Dad is being somewhat hypocritical. He is being supported right now through an inheritance, getting $$ from social security, and he is criticizing you - when you are only trying to WORK for money. That's just wrong of him. Maybe he forgets, all too easily, his own problems in the past with unemployment.

I used to temp also, I did it for two years, and the assignments can dry up almost overnight. Its scary to go 2-3 weeks without an assignment. I even at one point volunteered to do just about "anything" for an assignment, and the temp agencies came up with nothing still.

Being a paralegal is hard. Its a hard field to get into. I've found that most attorneys will hire someone they know through a friend or relative, rather than someone who has a paralegal certificate. They would rather deal with someone they know. Its all about who you know, not what you know. There are too many people trying to get jobs in the legal field, that's another huge problem right there. Still, paralegal schools advertise, advertise, advertise. These schools are a business, out to make money.

I know you have had a hard time. I don't think people should be judging you, when you are trying to work and do the best you can do. I've found that the most judgmental people, are often the ones who don't work, or don't have to work for whatever reason. Easy for them to sit back and judge. There's nothing wrong with asking for financial help, though.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-24-2003
Tue, 08-19-2003 - 10:18am
Have you ever thought of teaching?

In most states you can teach high school/middle school with a degree in English, History, Science, etc... You of course teach the subject you have a degree in.

I don't know what state you are in, if you are in NY then this is not the case you would need a masters. However, from what I understand most states are like mine (Florida) where you need a B.A. to get a temporary certificate which is good for 2 years. During this time you are expected to get 2 years of teaching experience and take whatever education classes you need. At the end of the two years you take a test in order to get your Professional certificate and there you are.

You would not be able to teach Elementary school with a B.A. in English. Elementary teachers are required to have an Education degree.

Check with your state's department of Education and see if this is something you could do. Education is a tough job but can be very rewarding. It can be rewarding when you help the children in your care learn and see the little light go off in their heads. It can also be unrewarding because unfortunately most who don't teach think teachers jobs are easy. They don't realize that although they can walk out of the school at around 3 p.m. they almost always have work to take home with them. Papers to be graded, lesson plans to be made, etc... They also don't realize that teachers are often parent, psychologist, friend and many other things to children who seem to have no one else in their lives paying attention. Parents often feel education is the teacher's responsibility and don't realize that parent participation is roughly fifty percent of a child's academic success. Then there is all the bureaucracy which is a long story. I am not trying to steer you away, it is tough but it is a job that needs to be done. Our schools need more teachers that really care about the success of our children. Maybe you can be one of those people. I will be graduating with a degree in History this year and hope to start teaching by this January if I am lucky.

Good luck to you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2003
Tue, 08-19-2003 - 11:05am
Whatever you decide to do, please don't load up everything and move to California. California is such a fantasy. Some people think its the land at the end of the rainbow where all problems melt away in the sunshine and "good vibes."
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2003
Tue, 08-19-2003 - 1:38pm
Hey! I grew up in California! I never heard of the rainbow theory. Life is hard in Silicon Valley. I am a chemical engineer and will not be able to afford a house unless I find a friend or marry someone who makes as much money as me.

If you really pack up and move to califonia, I suggest San diego. It is great there. I would love to move back someday. They have a lot of industry there, and the city is not too big. The ocean is beautiful, the night life is great.

Another option for you might be marketing, my mom has an english degree too but was in marketing for over 20 years before she went back to teaching. She has a teaching credential, which was a one/two year after college program. Teaching doesn't make a whole lot of money, but you can qualify for cheaper housing as a teacher in some cities.

Try sales positions, commission can be good money. Get your realtor's license. If none of these options are viable, by all means go back to college!!!! Get an MBA, go to law school. I don't know much about dental assistant positions, but that might be good. Just don't give up.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Tue, 08-19-2003 - 1:56pm
Hi

I too have worked as a temp for many many years as a result of poor educational choices. I can't get a job right now doing anything for even $7.00 an hour and I have a degree in health care!

My thoughts lately are what can someone without any other skills do? Sales is a good choice. The income is almost limitless and if you have ambition may do very well. There are positions that offer a base plus commission too. Or substitute teaching. What about getting a position as a legal secretary instead of the paralegal title?

Whatever you do, don't go to California, I am from there and can't afford to live there. If you really want to move, check out prospective zip code cost of living comparisons on the Internet. We chose Phoenix due to the expansion and low cost of living, otherwise if we could afford it, we'd live in Cali too.

Good luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2003
Tue, 08-19-2003 - 7:13pm
Well, I sort of disagree with temp work not paying well. I usually made between $14-$16 an hour when I temped. But I suppose it all depends on what part of the country you live in, what kind of temp work you do, and which temp agencies you work for.

The main issue I have with temp work is, most of the assignments I had were very boring. That, and some of the permanent people would suspect that you were out to steal their job or something. Ridiculous. I temped for two years, had steady assignments, and at the time had no interest in anything permanent.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2003
Tue, 08-19-2003 - 7:13pm
I want to thank everyone for their kind responses, and those are all good ideas. I haven't ruled out becoming a teacher. I'm still weighing it in my mind. One problem that came up with being a teacher is that most of the states are in bad financial shape, not having enough money in their budget. So at one time they were looking for more teachers, but now the teacher shortage is working in their favor becuase they can get by with the ones they have. At least this is true for many public schoold these days, that's what I've been hearing.

Sorry I couldn't respond sooner, I was at my temp job and our computers were down today for some reason. I just don't know how to cope with my dad's anger, though, when he was good about it a few weeks ago. He feels i'm conducting my job search wrong, that faxing resumes to places isn't going to get me anywhere. He has a point, but it's the conventional method to go by. Networking your way into a job is a good way, but I don't have any influential contacts that could be of immediate help.

Anyway, thank you so much, and don't worry, I won't really go to California anytime soon..it was just an escapist thought!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2003
Tue, 08-19-2003 - 10:06pm
You sound really sensible. Try not to let your Dad get you down. Maybe he has some other problems that you don't know about. Just keep on trying and eventually I am sure you will succeed.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Tue, 08-19-2003 - 11:47pm
Hi lendamiller

Where were you temping for $14 an hour???? I can't find a temp job - even a ONE day job for even $7.00 an hour and I have 15 years experience! (Although I haven't made $7 an hour in 22 years)

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