Dmetrius Alexander, Young & Recessioned: You're Just A Set Of Keywords In A Search Engine

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Today's Installment of Young & Recessioned features Dmetrius Alexander, a 26-year-old from San Antonio that found the only thing worse than being unemployed in Houston for ten months is searching for jobs online.

I went to St. Mary's University in San Antonio. I always wanted to get into business, but I was good at math. My dad said no business, it's the easy way out, so I went into industrial engineering.

I had a job when I graduated. It wasn't industrial engineering, it was just computer software work. I really didn't want to be in San Antonio anymore, because San Antonio is notorious for underpaying people. The job offer in Houston was really good.

I got to work one Tuesday
, and things had kind of been slow at work for awhile. I ran into the HR lady on the elevator, and I told her, 'Today is going to be a good day.' She said, 'Yeah, you think so?'

They told me to come down to HR later that day. No one really saw it coming. I think I was the third person that day who got let go, and there were more people getting let go behind me.

I had just gotten out of a relationship that I had been in for four years. We had just broken up the Tuesday before. I had a friend that was living in Birmingham, Alabama, who I hadn't seen in awhile, so I went out and spent some time with her.

I came back and I knew it was going to be tough going. I got my resume ready and just decided to go forward from there.

I learned that unemployment doesn't pay anything, very little, relative to what I was making. But if you take a job, regardless of what you make, your unemployment gets cut off.

So if I take a job for less than what unemployment pays, I just have to survive off of that, spending my free time trying to find a job while working full time just trying to pay bills. I got offered a job with a credit union as a teller, but I couldn't take it because it wasn't paying anything.

The [job hunting] process was terrible. Everything is done so much online. Used to be, you could be active in finding a job. Find out who the HR person is and send them a cover letter, and print out resume paper and take it down and drop in in the mail.

Now you're just a set of keywords in a computer system. So you try your best to find out what they're looking for, but it's impossible. With everyone getting laid off, you know there are hundreds more people out there looking for that job, even if they're not qualified for it.

I would get up in the morning everyday at about 7 o'clock, especially on Sunday, Monday and Tuesdays, and sit in front of the computer all day long sending out applications. On unemployment, all they ask is that you have an application a week. But I was doing things like submitting 100 applications a week.

I had been working since the time I was 18, and going to school. Whether it was Wal-Mart or a bank, I needed to work. I had never imagined being unemployed.

When I first lost my job, I got a severance package. It was two weeks of pay and all my vacation. I thought that would be fine.

I didn't think it would be a long unemployment time. I had a degree, I lived in Houston, I thought I could find a job. But I realized it would be touch and go. I went ten months. It could have been worse, it could have been much, much worse.

I got a phone call one day, and it was from Continental. I had applied for a different position, and I didn't get that position, but there was a different position. That's where I'm at now.

I'm a technical writer, writing policies and procedures manuals. It's a different direction from anything I've studied.

It's pretty mind numbing. I'm just there, being robotic.

The [Continental] merger went through, and I talked to my supervisor to find out if I'd still have a job. She said she signed our contract through the end of next month, and we'll see where it goes from there.

Got a tale to tell about being Young & Recessioned? E-mail Paul Knight at paul.knight@houstonpress.com.

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