Today's installment of Young & Recessioned features Tchernavia Sessum, a 26-year-old Clark Atlanta University grad, who struggled for several years in the job market before finding a job that put her schooling to use.
Everybody in my family either went to Texas Southern [University] or Prairie View [A&M], and I didn't want to go to either school. I lived like five minutes from TSU, and Prairie View was still too close to home.
I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, so I started out as a business major. I actually went to the communications program at Jack Yates High School, so during the second semester of my sophomore year, I switched to mass communications. My concentration was public relations.
I had five different internships by the time I graduated [college]. I also worked part-time, but everybody kept saying, 'Intern, intern. It will help you get a job.' Which, it did not.
I had some interviews in Atlanta, but they were telling me that I had too much experience to be an intern, but not enough experience to start out. I looked from April of 2006 to August 2006. I went to wherever I had friends. I looked in Chicago, Nashville, I looked everywhere. But then my parents told me they couldn't help me anymore, I had to come back to find a job and pay my student loans. I had to get situated and start paying bills.
I had no idea it would be this hard. I was blind to it. My roommate during my senior year of college didn't work her entire time in school, and she was a biology major but didn't want to go to pharmacy school, but she ended up getting a job like four months before graduation.
I didn't want to just take any job, and that's why my parents told me to come back. I was working at restaurants and retail in college, and I didn't want to do that. Not to sound cocky or arrogant, but I feel like I worked so hard to get away from that. But I decided to come home and do that until I found something at a PR agency.
All of 2007, I was working part-time jobs. I worked at Rampage for a day. When they hired me, they didn't tell me they were closing. I had to find out from a customer. I went to the manager to ask her about it, and she told me they had other stores people could go to. I told her I really wasn't trying to have a career in retail.
I worked a lot of temp jobs. A lot of the time, I was working two jobs at a time. I started taking anything so I could have money to function. I worked at a country club, and I was also working at the Coach store at the same time. At the country club, they looked down on you, like I wasn't educated. I got to my three-month mark, when I was supposed to get insurance and benefits, but they figured out some way to let me go.
It was real frustrating, because in high school, we had a co-op program where I worked half a day and went to school half a day. During my senior year in high school, I was making $9 an hour. Then I graduated college and I was making $10 an hour.
I found a job at Fox Sports Network. I ended up leaving, because I took a position with another company that I ended up resigning from because we had to take pay cuts. And I was working way too many hours for not enough money.
so I came back to Fox.
I think my faith kept me stable. I prayed a lot. There were a lot of situations that I couldn't believe. A lot of my friends didn't understand, because they got jobs right out of school, but they weren't happy either. I would suggest that if you believe in anything, just pray. That's what really got me through.
Update: Since leaving her job at Fox Sports, Sessum started her own business and works part-time for CBS Radio.
Got a tale to tell about being Young & Recessioned? E-mail Paul Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.