OVERQUALIFIED: The Distance Between Rookie and Boss

By Brennon Keys

 Ever been to that point where you don’t feel like doing anything? Exhausted every possible resource? Utilized every skill and colleague? Sick and tired of being sick and tired?

 Yep, I’m there. Been there for a while now. And while I’m sure there’s a calling for me to adjust, I haven’t.

 For those who don’t know me, I’ve always been able to bring people laughter with my life experiences. Especially the negative ones. Why? I don’t have the slightest idea… but I guess this is an opportunity to capitalize on that ‘gift’ (or ‘curse’, depending on your perspective).

 I am a recent college graduate of UAPB (Arkansas – Pine Bluff) with a focus in the print journalism field. Considering the day and age we live in, that’s a killer punchline in itself. I can hear the cynics and frenemies conversing in the shadows, like some chatty old women at the local beauty shop:

 Cindy Nick – “You hear about that guy that went to school to write?”                              

 Fran Emmy – “Yeah… good guy, but he lives in a time warp. Someone help him reset his DeLorean…”                                                                                                                       

Cin – “Just sad. Going into a dying field, and attempting to talk about sensical things? He’ll never make it…”

 Or something along those lines… but I digress.

 A bachelor’s degree used to be the key to financial and social success ‘back in the day’. If you attained one of these, you were on the fast track to being somebody important, someone revered and envied in your neighborhood, your field. Today, in this increasingly globalized and industrialized society, it’s the equivalent of graduating from high school.

 With that in mind, I think to myself, “That’s fine! I’ll still be on par with the majority of young adults, and find an entry-level opportunity that will allow me to show off my work ethic, superb intelligence, amazingly good looks and other gifts. Surely, I’m still ahead of the curve, considering how many high school dropouts I know personally and see regularly between my new alma mater and my hometown.”

 In short, these hopes have proven to simply be wishful thinking thus far.

 Funny thing about all of this is, although a bachelor’s has devolved from a luxury to a necessity, many of the jobs available (I’d go as far as to say the majority) still require you to have no experience or as little as possible. Similarly, on the other end of the scale, the higher-ups in my field laugh (literally, in my case) at recent college graduates walking in their direction with a degree in hand. They preach experience as the new necessity, in some instances over a decade of it. A bachelor’s degree is no longer considered that top-end prerequisite; it has become that dreaded middle ground.

 No sense in approaching directorial, managerial or presidential positions with degree in hand; they will simply turn you around and say “work a little harder, and a little longer”. So why not go for those positions that denied me summer after summer during my high school and collegiate years? Here’s where the story gets hilariously unfortunate… all encompassed in one, dreaded term.

Overqualified.

 A word I never knew existed, nor made sense in any context, suddenly masks the “under-qualified” label I’ve sported since I was 16. I carry it with me everywhere now; it’s all the rage. It has become my favorite undesired accessory.

 Going into job interviews and experiencing this shift in social ideology first hand has been something else. Growing up with the traditional mindset of “college or bust”, with two parents who aren’t college educated and who never acknowledged to me that I didn’t HAVE to go to college, it’s extremely disheartening and confusing to hear the interviewer point out my new label, and (in most cases, so far) disqualify me from consideration because of it. It’s discrimination, I tell you!

 How could celebrating a sheet of paper I worked and slaved five years for suddenly take me from being too wet behind the ears to being out of contention? I understand the practical concern (if I were to see greener pastures in my field, I would run to them without hesitation), but most hiring managers don’t understand what’s going on in my distinct field; at this point, there’s very little chance that such an ideal situation will suddenly appear for a fresh college graduate.

 Newspapers have explained to me (again, literally) that the only way positions will open up is if a higher profile position becomes available to a staff member or if a staff member dies. I wouldn’t put my money on either of those possibilities, but it’s a moot point when speaking to someone concerned about their own job security.

 I’m willing to stick it out with a company for at least two years. I’ll take less pay, I promise *sniffles* *shoves hands into pockets* *kicks rock*.

 In the meantime, I’m a proud new member of the Hennen’s Observer: This Week In Review staff. I don’t do this for the money (although I like green rectangles as much as the next person); I love to write and empathize with groups of people who often feel misunderstood, misrepresented or just plain missed. I love the art and I’ll do my best to keep it alive and well. Plus, I’m taking my shot at being humorous (if you laugh, I’ve done my job).

 Shoutout to all my ‘overqualifed’ grads of the Class of 2012! May your future endeavors be successful and prosperous, and continue to push through the setbacks.

Brennon Keys is a former sports writer for the Pine Bluff Commericial. When he isn’t busy pulling his hair out, he works as a freelancer in St. Louis, Missouri.

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2 thoughts on “OVERQUALIFIED: The Distance Between Rookie and Boss

  1. You hit the nail on the head. Even with this masters degree it makes me even more of an outlier or maybe liability is a better word lol

  2. Pingback: Racing to the Bottom: Gen Y Edition | hennensobserver

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