Lessons Learned While Watching MTVs True Life: I Have Broke Parents
By Yolander Prinzel
Hi, my name is Yolander and I sort of have an addiction. What am I addicted to? Well, it’s not dangerous, it’s not expensive, and I can safely operate a vehicle after I’ve indulged in it… I’m addicted to the MTV documentary series, True Life. I tend to be a bit of a voyeur which makes me particularly attracted to documentary style shows and movies but I actually love True Life because I often learn things while watching people live their lives.
This weekend I watched True Life: I Have Broke Parents which followed two families struggling to make ends meet after losing jobs. Some of the things they did in this episode were, from an outside point of view, counterintuitive to actually fixing their financial and employment situation. As I watched I started to wonder if many people make the same mistakes as the adults in these families were, so I thought I would talk about some of them.
1. Look for work WHILE you are on unemployment. One of the parents in this episode did not begin looking for a job until his unemployment benefits were about to run out. He had been hustling for cans and bottles to recycle and had been selling blood but it wasn’t until after his unemployment was close to running out that he talked about really hitting the pavement and actively looking for employment.
2. When you need money, NO JOB is embarrassing. One of the parents found that applying for work at a grocery store was embarrassing. If you are about to lose your home and can’t feed your family, then NO JOB is embarrassing. Wearing a life jacket while walking around the mall is embarrassing, but it sure isn’t embarrassing to be wearing one when you fall off a boat. That embarrassing job could be your family’s life jacket while you are drowning in financial ruin.
3. If you need money now, college is NOT the answer. A couple of the people in this episode decided that they needed to go to college in order to get work. While a college education is a good idea for your long-term career aspirations, if you need money and a job right now, college is a bad, bad idea. First, you’ll decide that living on student loans makes sense — and it doesn’t. Second, college takes a lot of time and effort and not everyone will make it through. You could be wasting time and money on something that you won’t even finish. Third, college does NOT guarantee you a job. It is not like a golden ticket into Willy Wonka’s factory. There is not mathematical equation that says college diploma = job. Instead, you need to focus on getting a job that feeds your family now, and enrolling in college once you are settled into your new routine.
4. Don’t make employment awkward. In one scene, one of the parents comes on way too strong with a potential employer and is extremely inappropriate. He stands too close to the employer, makes a desperate plea for “under the table” work at a pay rate that is less than minimum wage and tells the employer that he’s trying to make an offer the employer can’t refuse. You can’t bully, cajole, or beg people into employing you — and it’s not a good idea to try. Also, suggesting illegal actions to a potential employer puts you in a really bad light. Lastly, there is a difference between eager and grateful and desperate. Everyone wants their employees to be eager and grateful, no one wants them desperate.
Photo credit: woodleywonderworks
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