Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Move-Up or Move-On: Stop Crying about Your Crappy McJob Part I

Complaining about minimum wage jobs seems to be all the rage these days.  In the past week, I've seen
several articles on this topic specifically targeted at the fast food industry--McDonald's seems to be the most popular punching bag in this case.  In this series, I will address a few different angles on this issue.  Today's post is going to be geared towards the people who have been boned by the new economy: the overqualified, unlucky sod who got laid off from a decent job and now has no choice but to get a low-wage, entry-level job to support his/her family.

The essential gripe is that fast food workers are angry that they are not paid enough, that minimum wage is not a "living wage."  They argue that while McDonald's is making record sales, the CEO pulls in about $13.7 million as a salary, and the company is growing, they should get a bigger piece of the pie.

How much bigger do they think their slice should be?  These people are insisting that they be paid a "living wage," of $15 an hour.


I recently made a job change to a company that deals in workforce development.  My position is considered entry-level, but it has a minimum requirement of a bachelor's degree in social work with no prior experience, or a bachelor's degree with 1-3 years prior experience in workforce development.  What do I get paid for my entry-level position?  $33,000 a year, which roughly works out to about $15.85 an hour.

So you can imagine my incredulity when the drive-thru worker at McDonald's demands he/she be paid nearly as much as me.  Like my position, the job of "crew member," is considered entry-level, but it should be painfully obvious that there is a huge difference between the two positions.

Why should someone who flips burgers and sticks some fries into a deep fryer get paid just as much as me?  "Well Jack, because of the new, crappy economy, many overqualified people have no choice but to take these low-paying jobs.  And these people have families they have to support."  So what?  Are we arguing that pay-scale should be based on whether or not you have a family?  I have a family, so does that mean I should be paid $30/hr instead of $15.85?

Some people need to face the facts: you are paid according to the difficulty of the work you do and the availability of a replacement should you decide to quit.  If you work a job that requires minimal brain function, that is entry level, and has a nearly endless applicant pool, then you are going to be paid minimum wage.  This is why doctors and architects make the big bucks.  This is why you can expect to make $100k+ a year if you run a nuclear power plant: because the skill set is astronomically complex, and there aren't many people who can do it.

If you don't like being paid minimum wage, then do what everyone else has done: better yourself and work towards moving on to a more prosperous career.  Towards the end of my high school career, I knew that I didn't want to go to college right away, but I also knew that I didn't want a McJob.  So what did I do?  I joined the Navy.

After a pretty successful 4-year stint in the Navy, I decided that it wasn't for me.  I wanted a career that wouldn't require me to leave my family all the time.  So what did I do?  I got out and went to college--and yes, I had to raise and support a family while I was in college.  In that time, I worked during the summers with a youth employment program, and I tutored during the school year.  I didn't have to do any of this, but it helped to build my resume.

There wasn't a whole lot of meaningful work to do when I graduated college.  So what did I do?  I got a crappy, entry-level job in a call center (Nationwide Children's Hospital).  I wanted to gouge my eyes out working in a call center.  So what did I do?  I used my network of peoples, and I found a job as a job coach.

I wasn't getting paid enough in that job, and the hours weren't steady.  So what did I do?  I put in some job applications, and I found a job that would pay me more for doing less (at least, I think this job is easier than my last one).  What I do is not glamorous, and $33,000 a year is less than what first-year teachers make, but here's the key to my career trajectory: I don't plan on staying in this entry-level position forever.  My current position will serve as a springboard for the rest of my career.  Either I eventually will move up in this company into a supervisory/management position, or I will use the years of experience as an excellent resume point.

So if you're stuck in a McJob and you truly are meant for bigger and better-paying things, then you will move up or move on.  If not, then perhaps the only job you deserve is making chili-cheese burritos at Taco Bell.  In today's economy, your career success is impacted by your ability to build yourself towards your ultimate career goal.  Don't expect a hand-out from people who have been there--people who have struggled, just like you, but instead of asking to be paid more, they worked hard to better their situations.


Jersey McJones said...

This was disappointingly angry and mean-spirited, Jack. Peoples lives are not as simple as "well go do something else!" Most of the time, we have all sorts of reasons why we live where we live, why we have the job we have, why we have the peculiar circumstances each of us has. If it was that easy to get better jobs, people would get better jobs. It's really as simple as that. The problem we have now, for a variety of reasons, is that there are too few good jobs when and where there need to be, and too many bad jobs all over. This is a disease the body public has been suffering for well over thirty years now. So, why don't you stop blaming your fellow American, and start pointing the finger where it belongs - at the wealthy that run this country.


Jack Camwell said...

"If it was that easy to get better jobs, people would get better jobs."

If you work at McDonald's and you can't find a better job, here are the main reasons why.

1. Your skill-sets or work history sucks, which means hiring managers are not likely to take a chance on you.

2. You are not doing the due diligence, and you're not applying to enough jobs/not applying to the right kind of jobs. This could be because they've given up hope, or because they are lazy.

People like you and me would never sit back and say "well I guess I'm stuck working at the drive-thru forever." You and I would not resign ourselves to a life of "would you like to make that a combo or do you just want the sandwich?"

Like I said in my article, the successful people--the ones who will not be working at Mickey Dee's forever--are not the ones complaining. They're not complaining because they understand that they have taken a shit job, and they also understand that it's temporary.

I'm not saying that this is the land of plenty when it comes to jobs, because it isn't. I know that the job market is rough. But complaining that you're not paid enough to do a job that even a retarded monkey could do is ridiculous. I'm sorry, but the guy who scrubs the toilets at McDonald's does not deserve to make as much money as me.

Now, please answer some of the questions that I asked in the article. If someone working an entry level job that requires no experience or credentials deserves to make $15 an hour--essentially double the current minimum wage--then does that mean I deserve to make $32 an hour? Double my current pay?

Jersey McJones said...

Actually, Jack, I have been in that position. Millions of people are in that position. And to answer your question - yes! The vast majority of Americans are underpaid. Purchasing power has been flat for over thirty years now.


Jack Camwell said...

"Actually, Jack, I have been in that position."

Do you still work in a minimum wage job?

And how do you define "underpaid"? Is it based on what people NEED or is it based on the work that they actually do? Something tells me that you think people should be paid what they need rather than get paid for the work that they actually do.

Again, you cannot convince any rational person that someone making a burrito at Taco Bell--a job that even a 15 year old kid who's never worked a day in his life could do--should make $33,000 a year.

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey is a firm practitioner of the soft bigotry of low expectations.

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