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Does prioritizing financial stability feel less than? | Is It Just Me Or?

Throughout high school, I would often fall asleep with an incessant beep in my head — it was the soundtrack to my night shifts at the local grocery store. 

Back when the only two things in my life were school and work, I had my routine down pat. I went to school, got work done between classes or right when I got home and put on my white collared shirt and maroon apron to head to my cashier job. 

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

It’s a gratifying feeling to be young and making money because you gain a bit of financial freedom for the first time — whether you want to buy a new pair of jeans or just pitch in with groceries. 

Between ages 14 and 16, you don’t have a wide variety of jobs you can apply for — taking away the pressure of finding the “right” one. 

I was proud to have had that first job throughout high school. It boosted my confidence, and made me a better person and student. It also has left me with an unimaginable number of produce codes stuck in my head. 

But when I left high school, I realized how compact and localized my professional world had been.

Work study was included in my financial aid package at Boston University, so I have had the opportunity to hold a few different jobs on campus over the last four years. Along with administrative work on campus, I have done retail and service work off campus that has allowed me to feel more connected to Boston as a city — rather than just this strip of Commonwealth Avenue. 

I experience twinges of jealousy when I scroll on LinkedIn and see internship announcements and professional milestones from my peers, but it is always good to remember that every professional journey is different — even for those pursuing similar careers. 

As I approach graduation — and have constant conversations with relatives over what my future holds — I’m starting to feel insecure about my place in the job market. 

Being a journalism student means internships are a big part of making connections and gaining experience. I was never able to work a paid internship that was relevant to my professional aspirations — though not through a lack of applying, applying and applying some more. 

It’s a sore spot for me because I feel like my resume is not as full as my peers. At the same time, I have enjoyed every work environment I’ve been in — whether it be a bookstore, a kitchen, grocery store aisles or behind a perfume counter. 

I have had to make money every summer to sustain myself throughout college with books, groceries and other necessary expenses. 

Oftentimes, my answers to relatives inquiring about my future satisfy neither me nor them: No, I do not plan on working my current, part-time retail job in the long term. Yes, I am applying to jobs outside of the Greater Boston area. 

It isn’t that I don’t want people to know that I may still work in retail after graduation, but I want to be seen as someone capable of applying their degree to future positions. 

I don’t want to hang my diploma up on a wall to collect dust — I want it to be a reminder of the beginning of the professional career I hoped for. 

I will walk away from college with an amalgamation of skills learned in class, extracurricular activities and my work experience. As much as I worry about my lack of experience in the journalism field, I still apply for jobs and walk into interviews with confidence in myself as a worker. 

Besides, I may have those jobs to thank for paving the way for me to feel confident as a writer and reporter. Interviewing can feel like a breeze in comparison to having to reassure someone that their declined card was a result of faulty technology, not an insinuation that they do not have money in their account. 

Having the chance to work in the service and retail industries throughout my young adult life has been incredible — some of my former coworkers are still friends of mine to this day, and changing work environments have forced me to adapt quickly and get out of my comfort zone.

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One Comment

  1. Your piece is interesting and well written. Thanks, congratulations, and good luck!