Tag Archives: college graduates

Sometimes, you just have to risk it all and go

I live life by three quotes and they are; “Never give up”, “There is no progress without and struggle and sacrifice” and “Sacrifice everything or accomplish nothing.” I’m not sure where exactly I heard that last one, or if I simply made it up, regardless; I think it is relevant to all of our lives. Now, I have big dreams in life, the ultimate dream, only a few know about. The rest of you will have to wait until the day comes to learn what that ultimate dream is. But in order to get there, the third quote comes into play.

Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to be two things, a writer and what the ultimate dream if it came true, would make me. My first sacrifice was putting off college for a few years so that I could figure out what exactly I should study and the path I should take to get to where I want to be. This decision led to my double major in Justice Studies (a focus on social justice issues) and Political Science with an emphasis on American Government at Northeastern Illinois University. I sacrificed my time, my social life, and relationships, dedicating my time to doing an extensive amount of writing and research that most students don’t bother doing. This meant undergoing an independent study along with four other classes one semester. The independent study was worth three credit hours and graded like a typical class, for it; I wrote a thirty page paper on US immigration policy from the early 1800’s to the present day. At times, I had to sacrifice sleep working my retail job to pay the bills, doing all of the schoolwork, and on top of all of that, carrying a total of three internships on my back when only one was required. “Never give up” came to mind when I struggled with my college math courses and refused to let the material beat me. In the end, my GPA was high and put me on the Dean’s List for my final two years.

I graduated in December of 2015 and now I am sacrificing everything to accomplish my dreams and my goals. A while back, when I was still completing my Bachelor’s, a good friend whom I have known all of my life offered me a room in California where he had settled after being discharged from the Navy. At first, I turned it down because I was in love and in a relationship of four years. As that relationship entered its fifth year, the woman I loved felt that we needed to go our separate ways, as hard as it was to hear those words, and for as long as it took me to get over the breakup, I came to realize that it was for the best, for the situation in Illinois with the budget impasse and the financial and education crises that the city of Chicago is facing, has had an impact on college graduates looking for work in their respected fields of study, I being one of them and I did not invest the time and the money in college to stay in retail and stock laundry detergent my whole life. The political mess in Illinois is also taking its toll on the state’s public universities which operated for some time without budgets, and are currently running on temporary budgets, this is not good for somebody like me who seeks to obtain their PhD. With all of that said, I asked my friend in California if the offers still stands as I seek opportunity and a badly needed change. He told me, “Yes of course, the offer still stands.” Now onto why this is a huge risk and a sacrifice.

I am headed to California at the end of July with only my car which I am still making payments on, and my few belongings which consist of my clothes, and two storage totes, one filled with DVDs and the other filled with books. There is also my laptop and my cat. That’s it. I’m headed to California without a job, but at least a place to stay. I’m putting a dent in my life savings to get ahead on some of the monthly expenses so that I don’t have to worry about them for a few months as I look for work, and I am certainly putting a lot of hope in getting a job where my friend works which he says, there is a 99% chance that I will in fact get a job, but I am prepared for that 1% chance that I don’t. I am sacrificing it all in order to accomplish my dreams and my goals. I am confident that things will work out, for I always seem to find a way to make it, for I persevere and Never Give Up. I intend on taking a risk and self-publishing some of my works of Science Fiction under my own brand, even though some authors have had great success in doing this, it’s risky, for I will not have the representation and promotional resources of an agent or a well known publisher. I’m taking a big risk and making a big sacrifice, and will make further sacrifices when I attend graduate school and work towards my PhD. Once graduate school is complete, I hope to teach college for a while, research and publish within the fields of Political Science and Social Justice, to continue to write and self publish other works until the day comes to pursue that ultimate dream.

“Sacrifice everything or accomplish nothing.” certainly comes into play here, as well as the other two quotes I live by. But I’ve overcome a lot and I have been offered a golden opportunity in the Golden State of all places, ironically enough, and I must sacrifice it all in order to make my dreams come true. I realized that sometimes, you just have to pick up and go and that is what I am doing. I hope that you will do the same if it means happiness and making your dreams come true and accomplishing your goals. Nothing good comes without sacrifice and struggle. We must not fear those two things as individuals or as groups if success is lying on the horizon.

The “Bernie or Bust” Crowd is endangering America

Ever since the beginning of this presidential campaign, there are those Democratic voters who have come to be labeled as the “Bernie or Bust” crowd. These are people who have made it clear that they are not going to vote at all, or are going to vote third party if Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is not the Democratic Presidential nominee. Now that the math clearly indicates that the Democratic Party’s nominee will be Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the “Bernie or Bust” people are all fired up and talking their rhetoric. This crowd is not only dangerous in my view, for they are possibly handing a White House victory to Donald Trump, but they are putting the future of this country in jeopardy. My intention here is not to tell you that are wrong in your views if you are part of this crowd, I voted for Senator Sanders in the primary and still have the bumper sticker. I wish he was going to be the nominee, but because we can’t always get what we want, we have to take the best we have.

The reason Clinton is the best we have is well, I think it’s obvious. On the Republican side we have candidate Donald Trump, who has all throughout his successful campaign has demonized women, talked down about people of color, especially people who are of Latino decent, has not only preached bigotry about Muslim Americans but has said that he would ban people of the Muslim faith from coming to America. He has encouraged violence against those who disagree with him at rallies and proposed building a wall along the border with Mexico which to me, brings back memories of an authoritarian Europe under Soviet rule, remember East and West Berlin? Among all of this, Trump wants to round up anyone who seems to be of Latino decent regardless of status and force them out of the country. This is not America. We have come too far in the fight for equality which is far from over to turn back the clock to the days when we discriminated against people based on their religion or on the color of their skin.

On the other side we have former First Lady, Former Senator, and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Let me be clear, I’m no fan of the Clintons, I don’t think that Bill  was all that great of a president as his policies contributed to poverty due to welfare reforms and the exportation of jobs overseas with programs such as NAFTA, all of which Mrs. Clinton supported. It was never was and is not a mystery that the Clintons have ties to the millionaire and billionaire class and to Wall St. and many tax evading corporations, but not once has Secretary Clinton said that she is going to kick anybody out of the country, not once has she endorsed violence against those who disagree with her, or suggested turning back the clock. If we are going to make progress and move forward, we must do so with a president who believes in moving forward and not going backward. Yes, as a senator Hillary Clinton did vote for the Iraq War, which was not only based on lies and was without a doubt the most illegal war since Vietnam, but nearly everybody in Congress voted for that war, they believed the convincing lies of the Bush Administration. And if you’re going to say to me, “Wait a minute, what about Benghazi?” My response to you is this; first off, the email thing is a joke, Rumsfeld used a personal server as the Bush Administration’s Secretary of Defense, and second, one person cannot micromanage the world. Benghazi could have happened no matter what actions the U.S took, this is only an issue because the Republicans have made it one, you would think that after all of the investigations and the hearing in which Secretary Clinton sat through for seven hours would have proven that there was something if there was, but there is nothing and that is why the whole matter is nothing but hot air. All of the emails have now been made public and not in a single one according to the FBI, has jeopardized national security.

Clinton is not going to bring us universal healthcare, she is not going to bring us free college education, but she will bring us a Supreme Court that will be in favor of equality and justice. The Supreme Court is the KEY ISSUE in this election. Donald Trump will no doubt appoint a racist, pro corporation, pro Citizens United justice to the court, while Clinton will appoint just the opposite. The cases that will be coming forth to the Supreme Court are going to determine whether we as a nation are accepting of all people and whether or not we are a country that is dedicated to justice for all as we claim to be, or if we are a country that preaches such but practices the opposite. The Supreme court will determine whether we continue to advance equal rights to people of the LGBT community, whether or not we continue to allow corporations and the wealthiest top 1% in this country to buy elections, and whether or not we force people from their homes based on the color of their skin or on their nationality. This is the single most important issue in this election. And remember, the Republicans are not going to allow any Obama appointee to have even a hearing, so the next president will be appointing two justices for Justice Ginsberg will be retiring soon.

If you refuse to make it to the polls on election day, or you vote for a third party candidate who has no chance in this system and such a vote, is a vote for Trump, then you are putting this country in danger by handing the Supreme Court over to the radical right who will slowly hand this country over to the white supremacists and the corporations. The “Bernie or Bust” crowd is dangerous in this regard. You can’t always get what you want, and yes I wanted Bernie, but I also want an America where everyone is equal and not discriminated against and where the people, not the corporations have a say in who is elected and in policy. We’re not going to get that with Trump and the Republicans, it’s not going to be perfect under Clinton, but at the least we have a chance to continue the move forward, and one step forward is always better than ten steps backwards. I have many issues with Hillary Clinton, but I’m not willing to hand over my country in which my heritage goes as far back as the Mayflower to a fascist who can very well undo decades of progress in only four years. If Trump becomes president, you can blame yourself for not turning out to vote or by voting for the doomed to fail third party, and if that is you, then those of us who voted for the little change and progress we could get, don’t want to hear you crying about how bad things are and how the radical right and rich have full control. You would have brought this on yourselves, and we will not thank you. Be a patriot, do your civil duty as a citizen, hold your nose if you have to and vote for the candidate who will not take us back to the dark ages and like it or not, that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

Why Millennials overwhelmingly support Bernie Sanders

First and foremost, I must start off by saying that I knew who Bernie Sanders was long before he announced that he was running for president. I guess you can say this is due to the fact that from a very young age, I have been interested in politics. I’ve followed every election closely for many years, voted in every single election since the day I became 18 years old, and in junior high school when all of the guys my age were into cars and sports, I was into politics, government, and elections. This would explain why I studied Justice Studies (a focus on social justice) and Political Science in college. I must also make it clear that I am a Millennial, a generation which researchers place as being born between the years of 1980 and 1995.

In this current election cycle, Millennials have come out in huge numbers to support Senator Bernie Sanders for president over Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Now, I supported Sanders since he announced his candidacy for president because he is much more aligned with my views then Clinton. But there is a reason as to why so many Millennials are flocking to support Sanders, and I didn’t even realize this until I heard it on a segment on the Ring of Fire radio program on WCPT out of Chicago. This not only explained why so many Millennials are behind Senator Sanders, but also allowed myself to see why I am behind him. I am going to share these reasons with you and I’m sure that many of my fellow Millennials will find that they agree. We are tired of the slow progress, we want that rapid change Obama promised us, and we believe Senator Sanders will deliver.

First, there is the issue of the economy. Under the Obama Administration, the economy has made a strong comeback and is stronger than it was at any point under the Administration of George W. Bush however; it is far weaker than it was at many periods throughout history. As Millennials, we find ourselves at the disadvantage of suffering from the mistakes and the greed of previous generations. When Reagan became president in 1980, he wasted no time in deregulating Wall St allowing not only greed in the financial capital of the world, but in the banking industry and in the corporate world as well. Reagan also gave the rich huge tax breaks which of course always means that the middle and lower classes are stuck with paying that extra burden. Presidents George HW Bush, Clinton, and George W Bush all further deregulated Wall St and gave tax cuts to the rich. Under Clinton, the economy was strong because of the Internet Bubble, but when that burst, the economy sank and the passing of NAFTA which was essentially corporate welfare, allowing for corporations to outsource jobs for cheap labor putting millions of Americans out of work, certainly did not help matters. TPP is NAFTA Asia which Senator Sanders opposes and Secretary Clinton refuses to give an opinion on. Finally, as Millennials, we find ourselves as the generation most impacted now and in the future from George W Bush’s trillions of dollars spent on war in the Middle East, especially in Iraq which we know was a war based entirely on lies. Our generation will be paying that off. With that said, Bernie Sanders supports regulating Wall St once again and taxing the rich and not giving them breaks and loopholes which allow them to not only pay far less then working class people, but also would prevent them from hiding money overseas so that it cannot be taxed. That is why so many Millennials support Senator Sanders on economic issues. Secretary Clinton seems reluctant to regulate Wall St and tax the rich. She also seems hesitant to make a stand against the Citizens United ruling which Senator Sanders opposes and intends on overturning. In my opinion, this is because Secretary Clinton has too many ties to those institutions and does not want to upset some of her largest donors and supporters. Millennials do not want another crash like we had 2008, and preventing Wall St and banking greed, would prevent such a crash.

Secondly, there is the matter of college tuition which has skyrocketed over the past several decades. Millennials are hit hard by this as well, for we now hold more college loan debt than any other generation in history since the college loan program came to be in the 1960’s. We currently hold approximately 3.1 trillion dollars in student loan debt, and the default rate on those student loans continues to climb because we are having trouble finding jobs in our fields of study and are forced to not only be stuck working low paying jobs, but find ourselves unable to pay back our loans and buy houses, cars etc. We are stuck living at home and not contributing to the economy or all that much to society. Senator Sanders not only wants to make college education free as it is in pretty much every country in the Western Hemisphere especially Europe, but he wants to at least start off by making community college free. He also wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour which is still not exactly a living wage but is much better than the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Clinton has stated that she would not raise the minimum wage to more than $12 an hour and doesn’t agree with free college. As Millennials, we want good paying jobs in our fields of study, we want a minimum wage that we can live on, we want to move out of our parents’ homes and buy our own houses, and contribute to society. We want this future for our children. We can have that under a Sanders Administration, and we can pay for it as Senator Sanders has said by taxing the rich, taxing the corporations, and by taxing Wall St speculation. Secretary Clinton will tell you that Senator Sanders has no way of paying for this, let alone a plan,  but I just gave you his plan which he himself has stated, it is also available on his website. We also want free health care like every other major, industrialized country offers their citizens and again, we pay for it through the above mentioned ways. The Affordable Care Act was a start, but let’s face it. The ACA allows a handful of major insurance corporations to not only dictate the market but to control the prices. This allows them to raise prices and premiums just because they feel like it, and the pharmaceutical companies intentionally raise prices, not caring what impact it has on the middle class and the poor in order to make themselves wealthy. Senator Sanders believes that this is wrong as do many Millennials, but Secretary Clinton seems to be okay with the current corporate dominated system.

Finally, there is this whole matter of Sanders claiming that he is not part of the establishment. I have to say that he is, for he has been in politics for 30  plus years, when you are in politics, you are a part of the establishment whether you like it or not. What I believe Senator Sanders means when he says that he is not part of the establishment is that he is not one who goes along with the crowd, as Secretary Clinton always seemed to do in her political career. Senator Sanders has stood against Wall St, the Federal Reserve, stood up to Goldman Sachs, and criticized our country rushing into war and getting involved in quagmires. Secretary Clinton has supported our rush to war, has received massive campaign contributions from Wall St, has never stood up to the Federal Reserve, and has been paid massive amounts of money to give speeches to firms such as Goldman Sachs, and she refuses to release the transcripts of these speeches. This is really making us wonder. Secretary Clinton, when she was a Senator supported the Iraq War and continues to support having large number of Americans troops on the ground in the Middle East. Senator Sanders voted against the Iraq War and does not support having a large number of American troops fighting the battles of the Middle Eastern nations, but instead supports the idea of having enough of a presence to train the troops of these countries to fight their own battles. Too many Millennials have seen somebody who we went to high school with go off to one of these unjust wars of this century and come home in a body bag, and we’re not entirely happy.  We also want green technology for the planet has been heavily damaged by the years and years of using fossil fuels, and we are the generation that is stuck with that burden for decades to come.

These are the reasons that so many Millennials support Sanders over Clinton for president. We believe that he is for us and for the working class, while Clinton supports more of a corporate America. I do not want you to think that I will not vote for Secretary Clinton if she gets the nomination, because I will vote for her. Even though I think we will be better under a President Bernie Sanders than a President Hillary Clinton, we would be better of with either of these two than we would under any potential Republican candidate, for they would allow HUGE tax breaks for the rich, for the corporations, and would continue to wage unjust wars throughout the world. Not to mention that the progress that we have made over these past eight years will washed away in a matter of seconds under a Republican president, along with a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body, and the Christian religion being forced down our throats, undermining our Constitutional right to freedom of religion. So, I want my fellow Millennials and everybody else to continue to support Senator Sanders or at least consider it, and if he doesn’t get the nomination, do vote for Secretary Clinton because a Republican president is not going to be in the least bit interested in our generation or  in our generation’s future. Also, vote in every election, a president is powerless if he or she doesn’t have a Congress to back them up as we have seen with the Republicans refusing to even negotiate with President Obama to make even the smallest amount of progress. VOTE VOTE VOTE AND MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL VOTE INFORMED.

The Job search of a Recent College Graduate

Like many of you out there, I have worked hard to get to where I am today. I’ve endured setbacks, hardships, and even heartbreak. I had to work and make my own money in order to buy my car, pay for my cell phone, and buy my clothes. Of course, I had help from family along the way, but very little financially. That’s not to say that my family did not lend money to me when I needed it, but it was never for large amounts and expecting help in paying for four years of college was out of the question, my family simply did not have that kind of money, so like most American college students, I had to rely on loans and work near full-time hours while going to school full-time.

Now that I have been out of college for a month, I graduated in December of 2015, I begin the much dreaded job search. I can say that my luck might be a little bit better than some of those graduates who have come before me in recent years, as the job market and the economy has greatly improved these past few years however; there is that one little word that discourages me. That word is “experience”. Now, I’m not the type of person who gets discouraged easily, I always believe that the grass is greener on the other side, but as I browse jobs postings on the numerous employment websites and find something that I might be interested in or falls inline with the two subjects I majored in (Justice Studies and Political Science), I see that word, experience. The employer wants you to have ten years of experience doing this, and seven years of experience doing that. How exactly does a college graduate get “experience” if nobody is willing to give them a shot and allow them to prove themselves.  As far as I’m concerned, I have a lot of experience and there’s not much that I can’t do. I interned for a U.S Senator, worked on a gubernatorial campaign, interned for a nonprofit organization made up of community lawyers who advocated and fought for First Amendment rights in the Northwestern region of Illinois, and have worked in retail for eight years. How’s that for “experience”?

The discouragement on the other side of “experience” are the jobs that are open to you no matter what you studied or how good or how poor your GPA was, and those are sales jobs. I can’t even count how many of these jobs I see everyday, or how many emails and phone calls I get from recruiters for such jobs. I must say, that these jobs postings sound good; they promise good pay, and all of these benefits and perks. You think it all sounds peachy, then you go to a website such as glassdoor.com, read the reviews, find out that not only is the pay commission based, it’s also door-to-door, putting wear and tear on your car, and getting doors slammed in your face. There is of course, those reviews about how terrible management is and how poorly they treat you. In my opinion, such employers think you’re an idiot and they set this trap to lure college graduates who have hopes of earning money and going somewhere in the world to their crappy sales job. And all of those marketing job postings you see, most of the time, those are the same thing. The truth is that the concept works like this; you’re a college graduate and you want to make money. You take one of these positions most likely because a recruiter sweet talked you, made it sound like the greatest thing ever and you accepted. While you’re miserable and not making any money, the recruiter just got paid! They’re in it for them, not for you.

Finally, I want to touch on these so called “staffing” agencies. I don’t think they’re a bad thing even though most of the jobs they have to offer you with various employers are temporary, they are a good resource for somebody who has been out of work because they were laid off or for whatever the reason might be, but in my view, this is not practical for a recent college graduate. The reason I say this is because a new graduate is not looking for something temporary, they are looking for something permenant which they can do for many years or in some cases, for the rest of their lives. Recently, I spoke to a woman from one of these agencies, she was very nice and of course was trying to sweet talk me into taking a temporary position with one of the many employers they work with. She told me that many of the people who work for the employers they interact with get hired on after several months of temp work, but how is this practical for a college student who has loans to pay off and can’t afford to be without a paycheck for any given amount of time? And this is what I told the lady, I simply cannot give up the retail job that I have been working throughout college to take a temporary job which might not turn into something permanent and be without a paycheck.

My search of course will continue. I’m looking to get into nonprofit or government, work for a while and publish some writing, which has always been a dream of mine before going back for my Master’s and hopefully getting into politics to help make a positive difference for all, another dream of mine. Before I wrap this up, I want all of you college graduates out there who are in this boat with me, to get two things into your head. One; never give up on your job search. Your first job may not be your dream job, but it will be a step in the right direction. Your first job and your dream job will come, and don’t be afraid to call and follow up on your application. This is not taboo, in fact it is just the opposite and most people will tell you so. Following up, shows enthusiasm and interest for the position. Second; never give up on your dreams, in my opinion, one only fails if they give up. You may not succeed right away, but keep trying and you certainly will succeed. I have not yet found that stepping stone job and certainly not my dream job, but be optimistic with me and we will not fail. Best of luck and may 2016 be your year!