It’s 2:46 on a Thursday afternoon and I am at work, on a self-scheduled break wondering about the value of my degree.
I came to the university as a custodian, then rose through the ranks to become a warehouse assistant five years later. In actuality, I have been a glorified custodian ( a custodian with a title) for over fifteen years now.
After over ten years on the campus, I enrolled as a part-time student and achieve my Bachelors in English in 2019. Despite my modest hopes and big dreams, I was still looking for a credible writing job when COVID-19 struck. My difficulties were for a number or reasons: I am over 50, and English degree is not highly desired by employers, and well, because of the above, I may have set my sights too high.
That’s what I was thinking when COVID hit, until businesses were shut down, the universities were closed, and the streets became empty, clean, and quiet. Except for those of us blessed enough to still have our jobs. In my case, because I am an essential worker, which was, and is, a blessing.
And, that is why I am questioning the worth of my degree, now. My basic manual labor job has kept me employed and financially solvent. It is why I was, and am, an essential worker. It is job security in a shutdown, or it was. I work at a private university. The chances of us staying open until the end of the semester is dim, and the chances of even essential workers (except for security) keeping our jobs is low to none.
But, how much better would I be doing if I had found another job? Would I be one of the lucky many to be “forced” to work from home? (I really wanted/want to work from home). Or would I be one of the tens of millions laid off and praying for a job when the economy reopened? Would I still have a job? Would my English degree be worth more or less right now?
I am blessed to not have found a new job before the pandemic. And, I am blessed to have a degree, to have been able to get a degree where I work, for just the cost of the textbooks I used.
But, I am at a crossroads. I could lose my job within the next few months. I have degree from a respected university. Should I be studying US unemployment policy or should I be studying the job market? What has more value: my custodial skills or my English degree?