Do What You Love (but make sure to get a part-time job too)

A lot of Millennials figured this out before I did. If you really want to “do what you love” for employment–or, at least do something that relates to your frivolous liberal arts degree–you should also find a part-time job that will help pay off your student loans. Take, for example, my childhood best friend whose full-time job is to coordinate events for musical festivals, but who also works off and on as a nanny throughout the year (thanks to that one year she spent at a prestigious liberal arts college). Or one of my colleagues who teaches by day and bar tends by night. Or another colleague who teaches by day and works weekends at a clothing store.

Click on the image above to access an Utne article I found a few years ago, about college graduates
Click on the image above to access the Utne article “College Grads in the Service Industry.” It explains why a lot of us are still working in the service industry years after graduation.

Of course, my advice is to pick a service industry part-time job THAT IS ALSO FUN, or at least incredibly ridiculous. A job that will generate tips as well as a lot of funny stories is, in my opinion, the best option. If you can also find a job that incorporates something you are at least a little interested in–in my case, let’s say bikes–then you will really be winning!

I drive the party bike around town on the weekends. I found the job on Craigslist last summer.

One of the happily drunk customers hugging me at the end of a pub crawl  tour.

Here’s something to think about: our teachers and parents–and Steve Jobs–told us we should do what we love. But that doesn’t necessarily pay the bills. Recently, for a segment on rhetorical analysis in the freshman writing classes I teach, I used a Slate magazine article on the problem with the “do what you love” message. It was easy for my students–young Millennials fresh out of high school–to identify appeals to emotion in the article (this was my hope!) because it infuriated them. It was the first time anyone had ever told them to not do what they love for a living, and they were pissed off. Because they were so angry at the message of the article, it was also easy for me to point out the appeals to emotion they were using in their disagreements with the author.The article argues that the “do what you love message” is taking advantage of a lot of us–because we are willing to do more and get paid less as long we are doing what we love. It also argues that the DWYL message has marginalized a lot of service and trade industry employees, because the general assumption is that DWYL doesn’t apply to jobs like bar tending, or even working as a highly skilled mechanic. Here is a link to the article if you are curious:  “In the Name of Love”.

When I see my students around town while driving the party bike–with loud pop music playing and fourteen drunk people dancing while trying to peddle–I’m always a little embarrassed. But I would probably be uncomfortable bumping into them while working any service industry job, so I usually just smile and wave as they do a double take on the side-walk and whisper to their friends, “dude, I think that was my English teacher.”

I don’t love driving the party bike, but I do at least enjoy it.

The best part is that by the end of the year, because of my part-time work driving drunk people around town on a bike, my student loans–from where they stood last spring–will be halfway paid off. This means I might be a free lady by the time I’m 31!

That is, unless my van decides to shit the bed between now and then. Or, that Millennial entitlement I’m plagued with takes over, and I spend the money on a second mountain bike.

In this photo, I’m waiting for the next party to jump on the bike and pedal–while I drive–from bar to bar down town.


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