Young & Recessioned: David W, Switching Careers...Again

The Big Recession may have hit the rest of America harder than it has Houston, but that doesn't mean we're not feeling the effects. Especially the youngest people in the job market -- whether it's twentysomethings trying to start their dreamed-of career or teens looking to begin making money on their own, a lot of people are finding themselves having to settle for less or fight harder than they imagined to get a leg up. In the bi-weekly series Young & Recessioned, we'll be talking to those on the front lines, about the frustrations and, too, about strategies that have worked that might help others.

Today's installment features David W., a 27-year-old Houston Baptist grad and former pastor whose job swap hasn't worked out as planned.

I got my undergraduate degree in business and Christianity. It's a double major, and I have my master's in theology. I spent nine years as a pastor. I started before school, and I did it during school. I originally started [college] looking at law, but I took a couple Christianity classes and got inspired and stuck with it. When I had kids, I decided maybe it was time for a career shift.

I wanted stable hours. I'd work 50 or 60 hours a week, at all times of the day. I really wanted something 8 to 5, weekend free, to spend time with my kids. It took me nine years to realize that it's not for me. It's hard to be a pastor and take care of your own family. It always feels like your family ends up being the last ones you help. I have two little kids, and I didn't want that to happen.

I got an opportunity at an industrial distribution firm to do mainly business development stuff for them. Seeking out new fields that we weren't a part of and developing an Internet presence that wasn't there. It was a great opportunity so I left what I was doing. That was February of last year.

The economy was declining already, and we immediately had two rounds of layoffs. Luckily I made it through those two rounds, but I had to take a pay cut and a demotion rather quickly. It was probably four months after I started.

Now I'm basically everybody's secretary and take orders over the phone. It's a terrible job, and I definitely feel vastly underemployed. It's frustrating, kind of being the peon in the organization.

Then I got these guys on the phone that treat me like assholes. I have to tell people that I'm not going to hunt somebody down for you if you're calling in. I still have my job to do. One guy popped off at me this morning, and he told me that I needed to get off my butt and go find a guy. It's just completely belittling comments like that don't help you get through the day.

The ideal situation would be replacing my position and getting me back to what I was doing before. Then I'd be back to doing what I feel more comfortable doing, something that's a little more challenging and not so menial.

I'm kind of in a unique position because I almost asked for a little bit of this, switching careers so drastically. I have to start over.

I'm not at the breaking point yet. I've only been doing this for about a year. If I didn't have any hope of this ending, I would definitely try to go find something else. But at this point, I don't really see anything else out there. The situation our economy was in, it was and is, difficult to find a job in general.

As of yesterday morning, I got accepted to law school. I do understand the irony, because for the next few years, I'm going to be completely disconnected from my family again. But long term, this is a good thing for us.

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

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