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Survival Jobs

By Brendan Fitzgibbons

A job is like long pants in a blizzard—essential.

When I finished my internship with Rolling Stone in New York City, I had no job, no leads, and only a bit of delusional optimism that something was “going to happen.” I wanted to be a standup comedian, but Conan O’Brien wasn’t returning my calls. So I decided to take a job shelving books at Barnes & Noble. Because hey, nothing says comedy like stacking Jane Austen novels at 7:30 in the morning. Hiiiiii-larious.

Barnes & Noble was not the most noble of career choices, but they offered me something that no other position did: money. Apparently, money matters when you leave college. How could I have known? I spent most of college charging my drinking habit to my parents. (Mom, if you’re reading this, you caught me, Joe’s Pub is not an organic food co-op).

My employment at the bookstore was what my Uncle Steve calls a survival job—a job just to help make ends meet. For people out there seriously considering a survival job, try to avoid it. Since it’s a survival job, you’re likely to spend most of you’re time trying not to drown. That’s not to say I didn’t learn a whole lot from Barnes & Noble. I learned that billion-dollar companies like Barnes & Noble can get away with paying their employees minimum wage if they offer workers discounted muffins.

In hindsight, however, my brief five-week stint at Barnes & Noble was a good experience. I learned a lot about books, and that everyone in New York City uses the bookstore for the public bathroom. I left Barnes & Noble for an office job, which brings me to the most important lesson I learned: never leave a survival job for an even worse one…

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