One of the more depressing things about living and working where I do is that it seems to be a concentrated set of examples for a phenomenon that I noticed back in Corona: A good number of young men and women in their twenties are being tragically under-utilized. Over half our department is overqualified for the position that we now hold — a couple absurdly so. College degrees and years of experience are being dedicated to jobs that could be handled by inexperienced high school grads with decent grades.

This isn’t a complaint so much as an observation.

It seems odd to make this observation at a time when our school system keeps seeming to get worse and worse and we seem to have fallen behind past generations. I don’t pretend to understand it myself, really. But it seems that out here in particular, a better education system (and a family structure more conducive to a good education, I’d wager) only serves to push down the wages of the educated.

There is a rather high concentration of phone centers in the area. Long-distance companies, satellite television, ISPs, and during the last election political polls are being done in this area. Why? Because they can find more educated people willing to work for a lot less money than they have to pay less educated people in the city. There is a surplus of well-spoken, personable individuals. And where there’s a surplus in supply there is no premium placed on it.

I find myself wondering what we can do to better utilize this talent, where it exists.

But what many of us seem to have in education, we lack in attitude. Some within the department feel this job is below them and function accordingly. I think a number of my peers (the ones that went to college) expected to land straight into the middle class. I think that the expectation is higher and so the disappointment is greater and so the performance is lesser. Curiously, there doesn’t seem to be the ambition of starting your own company as there might be. Curiouser still is that those out here that do want to start up their own business seem the least mentally equipped to do so.

Unfortunately, I come from the Ironic Generation, where irony reigns over all things, including self-interest. It seems that a lot of the smarter people just double-back on themselves, aware that the path to success is littered with failures and appreciating (and exagerrating) the odds and repercussions of failure. Though I can’t speak for others in this area, I was coming up through grade school when Ronald Reagan was president and a number of my teachers had a rather dour view of the man and presented Reagan’s America as one where you can’t succeed because the game was irreversably rigged in favor of the big corporations that fund the Big Gipper.

Maybe my experience was unique. Whatever the case, the cynicism and apathy isn’t particularly helpful. I find it particularly sad when I’m one of the more ambitious people of my generation.

Category: Coffeehouse

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4 Responses to Wasted Generation

  1. InterstellarLass says:

    I had ambition at one point. Then I realized I got more out of my personal life than my professional life. Now I work because I have to. If I could, I would never work again.

  2. abel says:

    Are you sure we don’t work for the same company? 🙂

  3. Becky says:

    Interesting in that I thought growing up in the Reagan era demonstrated how easy it could be to succeed, as the 80s were so lucrative, esp. for college grads. Living in a smaller down definitely restricts options for qualified folks. I found that even in the case of San Antonio, where marketing positions were few and far between.

  4. trumwill says:

    Lass, I think that you’ll look back on your decision with less regret than many parents of similarly aged kids will. More should take that outlook, I believe.

    Abel, that would be kinda weird :).

    Becky, almost all of my teachers seemed to really hate Reagan. Only the rich would get richer and the rest would suffer. Maybe I just had particularly pessimistic and/or liberal teachers. I cannot recall if it was more or less pronounced when the elder Bush was in office. I’d imagine most of those teachers, if they’re still teaching, would be saying the same now.

    Isn’t San Antonio one of the ten largest cities in the country? Has all the growth been recent like in Phoenix?

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