“Where do you work?” is one of the first questions asked when you meet someone. Your job and career path say a lot about you as a person. First impressions and self confidence are dependent on it. No matter how much the individual likes his or her job, as a society we stereotype people based on their career or lack thereof.
With absolute certainty, I did not think about this while in the military. I would go so far as to say I took it for granted. People constantly tellking me, “Thank you for your service”, free drinks and instant respect happened so often it was almost expected.
Well, now I face a different reality. I am a full time student. But all of those adult ways of life I accumulated during the last 10 years like getting married, having a child and paying bills don’t stop when you go to school, and they make the college experience a little different than the norm.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill pays for tuition, a little bit of books and a monthly housing stipend, but being a student comes with its own strings attached most of the time. It is hard to jump into a career while being a full time student. The balance of money and time faces every student veteran I have talked to. It takes a lot more of a commitment to stay a student when life is pulling you in so many directions.
The answer, at least for me was to supplement income with a temporary job, not a career, and there comes the void. The demands of school make it nearly impossible to take a full time job, so you have to put your career on hold. The bottom line is always money. Going to school is a privilege not a right. I worked hard for 10 years to put myself in a position to obtain a degree beyond a high school diploma.
So I am now in a spot where I took a job making sandwiches. I grab bread, place meat and cheese, add condiments and repeat. Not that I am old, but at my age and experience, I feel like I should be a little beyond that. I met some new people over the weekend, and they inevitably asked “What do you do?”
I lied, well kind of.
I simply said I am a student. It felt too embarrassing to tell them I make sandwiches, and it got me thinking. A lot of our fellow classmates think of being a student as a way of life. In their defense, most of the people they interact with socially are students themselves so it is expected.
When I felt the urge to lie about my job, it got me thinking. I never had to do that before. I was always proud and willing to share the information. I have said before that with hindsight my view on my time in the service has changed.
At least I did not have to feel ashamed to share my career choices. In fact, I was proud to tell people that. Obviously, a younger me did not understand the importance of this.
Brandon is a senior in the College of Communications, majoring in Journalism and Electronic Media. He is finishing his last semester through distance education from Virginia Beach, Va.
Edited by Maggie Jones