kitchen table math, the sequel: while you were sleeping

Sunday, July 5, 2009

while you were sleeping

ERIN McAULIFFE had a vision for this summer. A 20-year-old junior at Bowdoin College, she had lined up an internship at a New York publishing house and imagined stimulating days leafing through manuscripts, and evenings of sparkling conversation with friends at downtown cafes.

She ended up starring in a real-life version of the movie “Adventureland” instead. In that recent comedy, a recent college graduate is forced by economic hardship to work at a suburban amusement park.

Life is imitating art for Ms. McAuliffe. With her parents unable to help bankroll three months of unpaid work in Manhattan, she gave up the internship offer and moved home to Andover, Mass., where she took the one job she could find: working 12-hour days at an amusement park. For $7.80 an hour, she tends bumper cars and the big swing, and endures the many carny jokes of her friends.


In the short term, the lost summer of 2009 might actually be a blessing, some psychologists said, especially because members of this generation have lived their lives like track stars trying to run a marathon at the pace of a 100-meter dash — their parents typically waiting at every turn with a stopwatch.

“Parents have really put a lot of pressure on the kids — everything has been organized, they’re all taking A.P. courses, then summer hits and they’re going to learning camps,” said Peter A. Spevak, a psychologist in Rockville, Md.

Say Hello to Underachieving
New York Times July 5, 2009

Learning camps?


Jean said...

I find it really weird that this story is considered newsworthy. When I was 20 and going to a highly-ranked college, I spent the summer working at the local amusement park--mini-golf, batting cages, go-carts, etc. I sold a lot of churros and picked up many baseballs. I never realized it was such an interesting thing to do!

MiaZagora said...

I worked as a cashier at Hills Department Store while I was in college - and not just for the summer, but year-round. I probably would have liked working at an amusement park a LOT better - lol!

Anonymous said...

In our day, we thought it was cool if anyone got a job anywhere.

And really, there's nothing like holding down a lot of different jobs to make you realize how grateful you are when you get the one that that can actually support you.


Anonymous said...

I remember my under achievement days well. It was 1965 when I reached my apogee. It was at the intersection of my 0.0 sophomore year, uncountable bottles of Genesee beer, rabid party going and the employer of last resort (in those days), Uncle Sam.

In 1965 the government was very interested in college slackers. I parlayed my electronic skills in a deal that let me exchange my U.S. Army draft notice for 4 years in the U.S.C.G. This was the beginning of my return to earth so it was, in the end, a good thing.

The ironic thing is that I spent almost 2 years in southeast Asia; probably more than if I had taken the draft thing.

Bottom line is that adversity builds character. When I finally returned to earth I was motivated like you wouldn't believe.

My advice to all the folks who find themselves jobless between semesters is this. Go to the library. Study something on your own. You've got the juice for it or you wouldn't be 'between' semesters. It might change your life and you'll sure learn more than playing Cranium.

Catherine Johnson said...


I can trump all you guys: I had a four-year scholarship to college from the Eisner grocery stores, and as part of the scholarship I had a guaranteed full-time job in an Eisner grocery store for 10 weeks every summer.

Speaking of jobs, C. has his first job this summer!

Very part-time, but it's a job & in the middle of a massive recession. I'm hoping that bodes well for the future.

He's taking care of the tennis courts at the Masters School.

Catherine Johnson said...

Bottom line is that adversity builds character.


does wonders for the cortisol levels, too

Catherine Johnson said...

oddly, moms of autistic kids have abnormally low levels of cortisol.

le radical galoisien said...


Well I feel less like a bum now that I know I'm not that alone. I sort of question my decision to stay in C'ville because I thought the research/work opportunities would be greater. Not this summer!

My genius ex-gf is working at MedImmune though for 17.50/hr...