I wanted more than my dead-end job

After I dropped out of high school I learned that minimum wage wasn't going to cut it, so I found support to go back to school.

Oct 27, 2016

Let’s face it: working sucks. At least the jobs that young adults such as ourselves tend to get. Dealing with mean people, doing jobs no one wants to do (cleaning toilets, anyone?), and doing the exact same thing every day tends to wear a person down. Some jobs can be pretty stressful, but that’s why I recommend finding a career instead. Although they sound the same, they are very different!

Minimum wage and bills to pay

When I was in high school, I didn’t really care much for class. I didn’t see how most of what I was learning was helpful to me. Like most of my friends, I was way more interested in money at the time. So I started working at a certain fried chicken restaurant. This worked out great for a while: going from school to work and getting that sweet, sweet paycheck was fine for a high school student such as myself.

Then, suddenly, I wasn’t a high school student anymore. See, I was in foster care at the time, and I’d had enough, so I ran away. Not long after, I’d dropped out of school due to my poor housing situation. So now my job, which was meant to give me some pocket money while going to school, was my only source of income.

Minimum wage might be fine for a high school student, but for a young adult with bills to pay, it was barely enough.

Feeling stuck and asking for help

I was caught in a vicious cycle. I had to keep working my job to pay for the room I was renting, but I knew I’d eventually need to land a better job if I wanted to make ends meet. For that to happen, I needed more education, which I couldn’t get because I needed to keep working my job to keep living under a roof… see what I mean?

I didn’t have time to go to school because I needed to work to pay my bills.

So I decided to reach out to my career counselor and ask her for some advice. She encouraged me to come back to school, and with her help I got set up with a program that helps kids stay in school through financial aid. This meant I’d have support for paying my rent and some minor food expenses—so that I could stop worrying about money and start focusing on school again. So back I went!

Another dead end job after high school

Having financial support enabled me to graduate from high school (yay!). Finally through, I could see my life of complete fulfillment was just ahead of me! So, diploma in hand, I marched into my glorious future… Three months later I was assembling furniture and stocking shelves. How could this have happened?

After all of my time and effort, I was still doing work I hated in a dead end job with no chance of moving up. I was stagnant once more.

I had no idea what to do so I went back to my wonderful career counselor. She explained that if I wanted to pull myself out of the dead end jobs I kept getting stuck in, then I should probably go back to school again—but this time to get a post-secondary education (that’s any education after high school). Here I was facing the same dilemma of how I could possibly afford to go back to school.

Going back to school, again

My career counselor recommended applying for scholarships and, long story short, I landed one that would help me pay for my post-secondary education!

Once I knew I could afford to go back to school, I had to figure out what to study. That meant thinking about what career I wanted, and what kind of education I’d need to achieve that goal. So I did some research, self-exploration, and lots of thinking to come up with a plan.

I’ve always admired writers. I love reading books. I’ve always wished I was skilled enough to write a book one day. I’m still hoping I can, but until then, I needed some skills that would set me up for a solid career. So I choose a degree in journalism, because it’s on the intersection of things I enjoy and things I can get paid for doing!

Although post-secondary education isn’t all fun and games, it’s a lot different than high school. Instead of wondering why you’re learning something, you KNOW why. You’ve made a choice to be there. Some might say I traded in one set of struggles for another, but at least instead of struggling and going nowhere, now I can strive to reach for a better future for myself and my family. It doesn’t get much better than that.


Communication Studies
MacEwan University

I moved to Edmonton for school which is kinda funny because I used to be terrible in school, to the point where I dropped out.

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