Catching Breaks

Life in Cleveland is be­com­ing in­creas­ing­ly un­ful­fill­ing for me. I have spent the last 9 months look­ing for an­oth­er source of em­ploy­ment in this area, and have been most un­suc­cess­ful. This is my third Cleveland win­ter, and in the time I’ve been here I feel that I have of­fered plen­ty of my­self to Cleveland through time and ef­fort, yet Cleveland hasn’t of­fered me much in re­turn. And by much I mean one thing: a de­cent job. I like the peo­ple, the cul­ture, the pace, but when, as a young pro­fes­sion­al, I make so lit­tle mon­ey that I have to bud­get whether or not I can af­ford to go down the street for a beer at the Lit, there is a prob­lem. I’ve tried the net­work­ing routes, cold call­ing, brows­ing through every ca­reer board and clas­si­fied and even out on the limb things like search­ing through my re­fer­rer logs for pos­si­ble leads [Penton Media, I’m look­ing at you]. My skillsets are wel­come as long as there is no price tag at­tached, but oth­er­wise, this area doesn’t seem to have much use for them.

People talk about catch­ing breaks, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it hap­pen. Every suc­cess I’ve had, I’ve had to fight for tooth and nail, but me ver­sus Cleveland is a fight I can’t win. So to­day be­gins my search for em­ploy­ment else­where. I’m go­ing to start in the big metro ar­eas, NYC, Chicago and LA [where I’ve re­cent­ly start­ed cor­re­spond­ing with some old friends from the ND Film Department], places I al­ready have friends in, and places that might feel that they could use me. If all else fails, by mid-sum­mer I’ll move back to Indiana and go back to school in or­der to get my teacher’s li­cense. Cleveland has had its chance.

25 thoughts on “Catching Breaks

  1. Adam,

    I un­der­stand what you’re say­ing. Many times I felt the same way in my life. Other peo­ple were get­ting all the breaks and seemed to get a free pass on the Orient Express while I strug­gled to stay on the city bus. I have I had to strug­gle. com­pro­mise, fight, and some­times loose big to keep and get what I want.

    You sound as if you did all the right things. I know that you are one smart, ded­i­cat­ed man. You are in a po­si­tion of pow­er now, whether you see it or not.

    You are at the be­gin­ning of your jour­ney and as such you can change your plans, re­tool and charge in an­oth­er di­rec­tion if you want to ex­plore oth­er venues. It is great to be able to do that and it is in it­self an up­lift­ing view if you can bear to look at it.

    Unfortunately life is not a movie of which we are the di­rec­tor. We do write our own script in a way and can make a com­e­dy, a dra­ma or a hor­ror sto­ry. We all know peo­ple that have. The script must be ac­co­mo­dat­ing be­cause un­like a movie it is a liv­ing script and must deal with umpre­dictable fac­tors. Flexibility and the abil­i­ty to ad lib is crit­i­cal and you have both skills.

    I say good luck and you will be miss but you have left your mark through all those things you have done here in a very short time.

  2. Shalom Adam,

    I at­tend­ed a book sign­ing last week with an­oth­er 20-some­thing friend for the au­thor of Strapped: Why America’s 20 – 30 Somethings Can’t Get Ahead.

    Your chal­lenge is one that your gen­er­a­tion is feel­ing acute­ly. The rea­sons are many and no sim­ple so­lu­tions ex­ist. But it is a prob­lem that my gen­er­a­tion, the boomers, must be very con­cerned with. If Generation Y can’t get a fi­nan­cial foothold, who do we think is go­ing to keep feed­ing the Social Security mon­ster?

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  3. I’m with ya Adam… it’s a tough place to be em­ployed. I was down­sized from a LARGE lo­cal em­ploy­er over two years ago and am just now back to hit­ting my stride. Were it not for the love and sup­port of my wife, fam­i­ly, friends and a love for Cleveland that cuts me to my very soul, I might have left too. I hope that, what­ev­er you de­cide to do, it all comes out for the best.

    CHQ

  4. I com­plete­ly un­der­stand. This is ex­act­ly what the brain drain prob­lem is — how can you keep young smart peo­ple when there’s no jobs? Cleveland has come a long way cul­tur­al­ly, but for me, too I felt the pro­fes­sion­al pain. I had a good job there, by luck of my pro­fes­sor re­fer­ring me as an in­tern and tran­si­tion­ing in­ter­nal­ly. But due to the lack of cre­ative jobs in that com­pa­ny there was no re­al up­ward mo­bil­i­ty there for me. Here, tho it took me a lit­tle bit to get a job I re­al­ly want­ed, I went on so many good in­ter­views I can’t even re­mem­ber (some­thing like 20) and turned down sev­er­al jobs be­cause they weren’t ex­act­ly what I want­ed. And I know more than many com­ment­ing here how soul suck­ing your cur­rent job is. So — good luck to you. And you’re wel­come to crash here if you need to come out to in­ter­view.

  5. Cleveland is a small city, grow­ing small­er by the year. It does pro­vide lim­it­ed op­por­tu­ni­ties, not on­ly for the young but al­so for the mid­dle aged. Part of this is the re­sult of short sight­ed city gov­ern­ment tax­ing busi­ness out of the city and the area. 

    Fortunately, not all of the coun­try has been as wrong­head­ed. You will find some­thing. The odds, how­ev­er, are that it will not be here. 

    Riding through the city yes­ter­day, it was ap­par­ent that things are so bad in so many neigh­bor­hoods that they can­not be re­vi­tal­ized with­out a ma­jor dis­as­ter dis­plac­ing much of the pop­u­la­tion. Things should not have reached this point, but I do not be­lieve Cleveland can be saved.

  6. adam, adam, adam. you may share the name of the first man on earth but you are not unique in be­ing a few years out of col­lege and not mak­ing the mon­ey you want.
    i’ve been hear­ing that song since i was in high-school and was a big rea­son i de­cid­ed to skip col­lege and go straight to the “work­ing world”. back then in the ear­ly 80s i thought that it was some­thing that the re­ces­sion had to do with, yet i have heard that same com­plaint from col­lege ed­u­cat­ed 20 some­things near­ly on a dai­ly ba­sis.

    busi­ness week had a ar­ti­cle a few months ago that had sta­tis­tics that con­firms ba­si­cal­ly what your com­plain­ing about: col­lege ed­u­cat­ed folks with de­grees are not get­ting the po­si­tions or mon­ey they de­sire with the degree/​education they have. this da­ta is from the last cen­sus which in­cludes the whole coun­try and not just cleve­land. the re­port al­so shows no in­crease in me­di­an house­hold in­come for not on­ly the en­tire mid­west but the utopia known as cal­i­for­nia as well.

    any­way, good luck on your job hunt but re­mem­ber you’re not alone.

  7. You talk about Cleveland ow­ing you some­thing, but didn’t you re­cent­ly re­ceive an award for your Tremont blog with a seat on a board or com­mit­tee?

    I fre­quent your blog of­ten, but I haven’t heard what ex­act­ly is your am­bi­tion. How can Cleveland pay up if it doesn’t know what you want? What is a “de­cent job” to you? 

    Why don’t you post about what your dream job is in­stead of com­plain­ing that no one is drop­ping it in your lap? It will make it eas­i­er for Cleveland to help you find it that way.

  8. Hey mag­gie,

    I’ve not said that Cleveland owes me any­thing. I said that it hasn’t of­fered me any­thing. You might quib­ble about se­man­tics but there is a world of dif­fer­ence be­tween ow­ing [which im­plies a sense of en­ti­tle­ment] and of­fer­ing [an ex­change]. I feel that I am quite with­in my rights to com­plain about my in­abil­i­ty to find de­cent work in this town, es­pe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing I have spent the last 9 months steadi­ly search­ing for it. I think it is rather ob­vi­ous that I don’t ex­pect a good job to drop in my lap.

    I did re­ceive an award from my lo­cal non-prof­it com­mu­ni­ty de­vel­op­ment cor­po­ra­tion, for the com­mu­ni­ty site Tremonter which I up­date and main­tain us­ing my own time and mon­ey. I was al­so se­lect­ed as an al­ter­nate on the Cleveland Foundation’s Grant Making com­mit­tee, but that is al­so a vol­un­teer po­si­tion that of­fers no perks apart from din­ner at our meet­ings, a re­sume filler, and a feel­ing that I’m help­ing Cleveland im­prove it­self.

    In ad­di­tion, I’ve al­so done sev­er­al web­sites pro bono for lo­cal busi­ness­es that couldn’t af­ford to go to a de­sign firm. I al­so vol­un­teer at Habitat for Humanity and do many oth­er vol­un­tary things in my neigh­bor­hood.

    I’m con­tent with the grat­i­tude I’ve re­ceived from the peo­ple I’ve as­sist­ed, but that isn’t enough to sus­tain me. That’s my life out­side of work and it is rather ful­fill­ing. But if I can’t find some­thing to ful­fill me in the Cleveland work­ing world, its ob­vi­ous this town isn’t right for me.

  9. Hi. I thought I’d re-post a com­ment I made over at Jeff’s blog, Have Coffee Will Write:

    Adam should go west. 

    As an American ex­pat teacher who has lived in South America, Central America, and Asia for go­ing on 10 years, I know that not all of us are “ugly Americans.â€? Many of us teach or work for NGO’s (non-gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions such as “Save the Childrenâ€? or “World Visionâ€? or “Habitat for Humanity”). Many of us work for busi­ness­es which of­fer jobs to the peo­ple in our host coun­try. (Not all work­ers in third-world coun­tries are ex­ploit­ed. Check out Millma in Bolivia: a suc­cess­ful com­pa­ny that treats its work­ers well. I’ve been to the fac­to­ry, and have spo­ken to the work­ers. They re­ceive health care, ma­ter­ni­ty leave, and fair wages.)

    As to your ques­tion, Jeff: “is it pos­si­ble for an American en­tre­pre­neur to go…to Bangalore or Jakarta and not be an Ugly American ex­ploit­ing Third World workers?â€? Yes. Not all busi­ness­es ex­ploit.

    As to “by en­cour­ag­ing Adam to jump ship am I ig­nor­ing the re­al prob­lems here in Ohio?â€? How is liv­ing over­seas “jumping shipâ€?? And how is choos­ing to live over­seas a way of “ignoring the re­al prob­lems in Ohioâ€??
    I just don’t see the con­nec­tion.

  10. Do you have a re­sume? Or an “about me” page where em­ploy­ers could learn more about your skills, tal­ents, and am­bi­tions?

  11. Adam,
    I was down­sized out of a job I loved 3 years ago. After 2 years of false starts and pro­gres­sive­ly low­ered ex­pec­ta­tions and ris­ing pan­ic, I fi­nal­ly land­ed a low­ly cler­i­cal job at a lo­cal col­lege.

    I am earn­ing ex­act­ly what I was in 1991 (not ad­just­ed for in­fla­tion). Can I af­ford chi­nese take out tonight, or gas for my car tomorrow..hmmm.

    ON THE OTHER HAND, my em­ploy­er of­fers me free tu­ition here or at an­oth­er school with which they have an agree­ment. I will go ahead and make the sac­ri­fices nec­es­sary to stay here, get my master’s de­gree in a field I love at a very good school for al­most noth­ing (ie, no debt, which is crush­ing my oth­er friends), and then, hon­ey, the world is out there. I love Cleveland, but sure­ly there are oth­er towns with love­ly sea­sons, live­ly arts and in­ter­est­ing peo­ple? Get a game plan, man.

  12. Adam, I would hate to see you leave, you are ex­act­ly the kind of guy that Cleveland des­per­ate­ly needs!

    A word of cau­tion — I once moved from Cleveland to NYC area for a job that in­stant­ly dou­bled my salary. Unfortunately I found that my liv­ing ex­pens­es more than dou­bled. I en­joyed my time there, and came back to Cleveland, for a dif­fer­ent ca­reer. Admittedly, the job sit­u­a­tion here is ter­ri­ble for many peo­ple. I have left my 20s far be­hind and I have al­ready seen many people’s ca­reers strand­ed by a rapid­ly chang­ing job mar­ket. I do hope that you find some­thing re­al­ly great in Cleveland, but who knows? If Cleveland can’t pro­vide for you, maybe Cleveland doesn’t de­serve to have you here.

  13. I al­so worked in NYC for a time, Walter, so I know what I’m get­ting in to by look­ing there. And I don’t want to leave Cleveland. Some great peo­ple are call­ing in fa­vors for me, and I ap­pre­ci­ate it. Maybe some­thing will pan out.

  14. Hi Adam,

    Sorry to hear you’re leav­ing Cleveland…but if you must go, what about Chicago, Atlanta or Miami? With Chicago, you’d be clos­er to your fam­i­ly. Looking at your re­sume page, you’d be a good pick in those three cities. Even bet­ter yet, Toronto, Montréal, Quebec City or Vancouver (though VC is a bit pricey)? Canada is al­ways look­ing for tal­ent­ed pro­fes­sion­als. Go on­line and see what the job prospects are. Be sure to check out the cre­den­tials of oth­er lo­cal young pro­fes­sion­als com­pet­ing in your field, you may have tough com­pe­ti­tion.

    Chicago and Toronto are both one-​day/​two-​tank trips — save up $50, hop in your car EARLY Saturday and set your cruise con­trol, ba­by. (Bring snacks for the trip there and back). Drive around and see how you like the place. Pick some place ran­dom to dance/​eat/​hang out with mod­est prices. If you like, make your move.

    Good luck!

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