Sunday, May 13, 2007

Money Issues (or why I'm in grad school, Part I)

Jory writes in Fast Company about how the companies can be more aware of the financial difficulties of their employees. How I wish that certain non profits and universities would read her article.

This month I have yet to be paid by either of my university jobs. Meanwhile I'm expected to shell out for gas and thank you gifts for the folks participating in our research. For a university professor (or even the woman who does the payroll for our department) that amount of money would be nothing. When we found out that I hadn't been paid we had $70 in our account and no money for rent.

In comparison to most of the people in the world we are rich, so you will have to take my complaining with a grain of salt. Yet there are times when I feel deeply frustrated at the lack of understanding by the people I work with.

My husband and I are both in school at the moment. My feeling is that this is not by choice, but by unfortunate circumstance. If I had been able to see into the future I would have returned to grad school much earlier, but I wasn't very confident and didn't know what I would want to study. Beorn had a decent job, but he was so unhappy most of our money went into our living expenses and to feed his addiction to electronics. We spent way too much money on eating out. I worked at jobs I loved but that paid me poverty wages. I guess I hoped that I would be able to move up into more reasonably paid management jobs.

In 2001 when the bubble burst Beorn was laid off. He didn't have a college degree so he had trouble finding a job after that. For a while he worked as a consultant for a startup, then when that went sour he worked at the local computer repair shop for little more than minimum wage. The repair shop didn't last long either. It's pretty demoralizing to go from $70,000+ to less than $20,000 while being repeatedly fired on trumped up excuses, so that they don't have to pay you unemployment.

Meanwhile my nonprofit job expected lots of unpaid overtime and kept on promising me pay raises that never seemed to come. After working there for four years my salary was barely above that of the new hires that I was being expected to train.

1 comment:

Chaser said...

Universities are remarkablyl insensitive about not paying students on time. It's like they think all students are trust fund kids. I once wrote an angry editorial to the UCLA Bruin about how their tendency to "lose paperwork" and delay scholarship and fellowship payments had severe consequences for students without family money...thereby systematically disadvantaging student from impoverished groups.