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Like many other millennials, I enrolled as a college freshman in August 2005. Though I was riding a high bolstered by youthful optimism, much of the rest of the world was holding on tight, collectively bracing itself for another sucker punch to America’s economic gut.
In the previous year, both of my parents had lost their jobs; my mom’s department was slowly eliminated and my dad was laid off despite his 15+ years of seniority and superior evaluations.
Though they never showed it, I’m sure my parents were very scared, as were countless other Americans who faced similar circumstances.
Like many other millennials, I entered college during a time of economic downturn, and four years later, I graduated with the same level of excitement and optimism which had accompanied me as a freshman still intact. Call it youthfulness, naiveté, or foolishness, but I believed that I would most likely have my pick from a number of music teaching vacancies at some of the top schools in the Chicago suburbs. In fact, I established a goal to sign an employment contract prior to my commencement ceremony.
After sending out two dozen applications and sitting through another dozen interviews, I still hadn’t found a job in mid-August. Suddenly, I could relate to the fear my parents likely felt just four years earlier. The next week, I was fortunate to accept a position teaching music in an elementary school. After I was hired, I was told that over 300 other people had applied for my position.
The next few days that followed were a whirlwind: moving, training, and paperwork. Staring at a group of wide-eyed kindergarteners on the first day of school, I thought:
Welcome to the real world.
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