20something profile: Unexpected Wanderlust
This post was written by Amile, Lucia, Elias, and Hamilton, who are 20-something travel bloggers:
What are your career aspirations, and what have you done to fulfill those aspirations?
Amile: I would like to try out both teaching and social work and then whichever one I like more, I would go to grad school for. I’ve been tutoring in after-school programs throughout my life and have been working at my college’s Financial Aid office this semester where a good portion of my job is counseling on difficult financial issues. It is very challenging, but I love it.
Lucia: I’ve always wanted to work for a nonprofit organization, but the more I’ve gotten into that world, the more I’ve realized how complicated it is. I’d love to find an organization I truly believe in and whose practices are conscious, which is not that easy. I’d also love to work on community projects but more from a grassroots approach.
Right now though, I’m kind of in a limbo, trying to find work and struggling to find a job that both enables me to support myself and is fulfilling. I’ve been freelancing for a couple of months and scheming to find ways to work in what I love and travel.
Elias: I have absolutely no idea, but something that would allow me to work amongst internationally-minded people would be ideal. Right now I’m working at a hostel in Boston. It’s not what I planned on doing here, but I’m enjoying it for the experience that it is, especially the part where I get to meet people from all over the globe and find out their reasons for visiting the States.
I’m planning on going to graduate school sooner rather than later (hopefully!), and I’ve got my eye on a few programs, but I don’t want to jinx it…so they will remain a secret for now.
Hamilton: I aspire to work in something that is social justice-related. A nice chunk of my college career was devoted to anti-oppressionist studies and community building. I’m working for an online media company right now, which has absolutely nothing to do with my goals. But whenever I get a chance, I volunteer with local outreach organizations.
How have your travels affected your outlook on your life and career?
Amile: Travel has totally shaped my life, so I would say it has affected my outlook in every way. One big thing: travel has certainly made me less attached to wealth and personal gain. My career choices are then ones which are only marginally directed by money, thus freeing me up for a life dedicated to social betterment.
Lucia: Traveling has always been one of the most transformative experiences I have had. I moved from Colombia to the US when I was ten, and I think being bicultural and bilingual gives you a unique perspective on the world and culture, the same with traveling.
Suddenly, you realize that common sense is relative and that your reality isn’t the only one out there. It opens your mind and humbles you, and it also forces you to grow as a person. I’ve always been painfully shy, but having to leave everything I knew and traveling have forced me out of that shell and have helped me be much more confident and know that I can handle whatever life throws at me.
Career-wise, it’s important because I want a career that involves lots of traveling, and I would love to work in a nonprofit in another country. I got a job in Malaysia at a local NGO in the jungle, and it was literally my dream job. I couldn’t take it due to a family emergency, but that’s the kind of job I’m going for.
Elias: I used to think I’d be satisfied with a secure, well-paying job in some corner of the US, but after experiencing the complete chaotic mess that comes with uprooting one’s life and moving it to another world, I’m not sure I’ll be happy with settling down so easily.
My family moves around so much that the only constant I can depend on is that my home base will certainly change…so now I’m thinking I may as well embrace it. I would say that the first three-quarters of my time in Germany were really, really hard, and I didn’t think it was worth doing ever again.
But now I’m completely addicted to the idea of living (not just traveling, but really LIVING) in some completely foreign places. I don’t think I’ll be satisfied with a career that doesn’t give me any leeway for that. Which is a little scary to think about because the job market isn’t exactly in my favor, but something will work out!
Hamilton: It’s definitely given me the knowledge that I don’t have to stay in one place to find success. I know a lot of people who are very comfortable with staying in one place from cradle to grave. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, I know that that personally is not for me.
Something about surviving in a foreign environment makes me feel more confident and better prepared to take on the world. It has informed me that I can live away from places I consider to be home. It’s also informed me that I would be comfortable with working outside of the country (and probably will).
What are your thoughts and opinions about being a young adult in today’s economy?
Amile: I feel less worried about myself than about others who do not find themselves in as privileged a position I am (even though I come from a lower middle-class home). Currently, I feel in a secure place both academically, financially, and résumé-wise, so I’m lucky enough to say that I’m not too worried about my future.
However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t deeply want our economic situation to be based around social benefit rather than capital (which feeds off working class lives, families, countries, nature, etc.).
Lucia: ALL of the tears! I have a lot of friends who have an amazing résumé and are incredibly smart that are working in restaurants or chains or in jobs they hate. I’m currently in Colombia looking for a job, but the struggle is real, especially since most of us have lots of student loans and no viable way to pay them off without starving. I’m happy the economy’s picking up, though, and I’m positive about the future.
Elias: It’s honestly quite terrifying. Our parents’ generation is the first to do worse than THEIR parents did, and I know they’re scared for me and my brother. It seems like having all of the qualifications in the world isn’t enough anymore unless you want to go into some sort of STEM career.
I’m not TOO worried about myself because I am planning on getting another degree, so hopefully there will be some options. But I’m not currently working in a field I really want to be in because I was either too qualified for those jobs or not qualified enough. I’m used to living on a budget, and not having a lot of money doesn’t scare me, but I am often worried about just having enough to get by.
Hamilton: It’s truly horrible but forces you to get creative. I remember when I had such hope as an idealistic undergrad. I applied for jobs all over the country (and even outside of the country) for months and months during my senior year. I thought, Yes, I am going to go work for some non-profit that can use all of my energy, knowledge, and enthusiasm to advance the cause!
How little I knew, but how soon I found out. Let’s just say, I came off of my lofty dreams and became a full-fledged member of the “boomerang generation.” I applied for jobs that ranged from grocery store stocker to waitress to bookseller. Part-time, full-time, on-call, just pay me please.
The majority of my applications were met with no response, which I found not only discouraging but lacking in decency on the part of employers who expect you to fill out a multi-page, detailed application. The only jobs for which I have been hired with my multi-thousand dollar BA in the liberal arts have been part-time.
And I often hear that if I would have just gained a degree in the sciences, I might not be in this situation. The thing is, many of my friends who were science majors and didn’t opt to go immediately to graduate school also experience a similar struggle.
All of that said, however, I have really had to explore options outside of where I live and expected ways of making money, including but not limited to out of the state, out of the country, online, and freelancing. It’s a wild experience. One day, we’ll all be able to brag to our grandkids about how we scraped pennies together for a living during the Great Recession.
Lucia, Amile, Elias, and Hamilton write for Unexpected Wanderlust, a blog dedicated to travel and adventures of the spirit (mostly on a budget)