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The experience of underemployment for male college graduates Harder, Henry G. 1986

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THE EXPERIENCE OF UNDEREMPLOYMENT FOR MALE COLLEGE GRADUATES by HENRY G. HARDER B.Ed. ( S e c ) , The Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1979 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Counsell ing Psychology) We accept t h i s thes is as conforming to the required standing THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August, 1986 © H e n r y G. Harder, 1986 In presenting t h i s thes is i n p a r t i a l fu l f i lment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L ib ra ry s h a l l make i t f ree ly ava i l ab le for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thes is for scho la r ly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by h i s or her representat ives. I t i s understood that copying or pub l i ca t ion of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my wr i t ten permission. Henry G. Harder Department of Counselling Psychology The Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date Sept 13. 1986 a i "\ Abstract An exploratory study was conducted i n order to discover s i g n i f i c a n t events and feel ings attached to those events during the experience of underemployment for male col lege graduates. Fi f teen male col lege graduates of varying ages and post-secondary degrees were interviewed. The q u a l i t a t i v e / c r i t i c a l incident methodology adapted by Borgen and Amundson (1984) was used. The experience was found to be comprised of four segments: an i n i t i a l down period during job search after graduation; an upward p a r t i a l l y high period upon rece iv ing employment; a downward s p i r a l as the experience takes hold ; and a time when the person e i ther decides to make things change or decides to give up and accept the s i t u a t i o n . The resu l t s and descr ip t ion of t h i s experience may a id counsellors i n developing more ef fec t ive therapeutic intervent ions for t h i s populat ion. Table of Contents Page ABSTRACT i i LIST OF TABLES i v LIST OF FIGURES v LIST OF APPENDICES v i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v i i CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER I I REVIEW OF LITERATURE 5 1. Defining Underemployment 5 2. The Existence of Underemployment 7 3. Underemployment i n Cer ta in Groups 9 4. Underemployment and Job Sa t i s fac t ion 12 5. Summary of the L i te ra tu re Review 13 CHAPTER I I I METHOD 16 Subjects 16 Methodological Approach 16 P i l o t Interview and Research Questions 23 The Interview 27 Data Analys is 28 CHAPTER IV RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 31 CHAPTER V SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS 70 REFERENCES 80 APPENDICES 85 i i i L i s t of Tables Page 1. Educational Level Comparison 16 2. Demographic Information 18 3. Rank Order Summary of C r i t i c a l Incident Categories v Before Underemployment' 31 4. Rank Order Summary of C r i t i c a l Incident Categories N After Underemployment', P o s i t i v e . . . . 32 5. Rank Order Summary of C r i t i c a l Incident Categories v A f t e r Underemployment', N e g a t i v e . . . . 34 i v L i s t of Figures Pag Graphic I l l u s t r a t i o n of the Experience of Underemployment for Male College Graduates 6 v L i s t of Appendices Page A. P i l o t Interview Questions 85 B. Subject Consent Form 88 C. Modified Interview Questions 90 D. Contact Let ter 93 E. Rating Sheets 95 E - l . Rating Sheet Form 96 E-2 . Completed Rating Sheet Example 98 F. Protocol Example 103 v i Acknowledgments A number of people have contributed d i r e c t l y to the completion of t h i s t he s i s . I would f i r s t l i k e to acknowledge Dr. Norman Amundson, for h is u n f a i l i n g support, advise, and d i r ec t help. I would also l i k e to thank my other committee members Dr. Wi l l i am Borgen and Dr. Charles Ungerleider who have provided invaluable support, advise and construct ive c r i t i c i s m . Gentlemen, my thanks! I have also appreciated the support of several other graduate students. I am grateful for the s p i r i t of cooperation and support that ex i s t s wi th in our c i r c l e . I would also l i k e to acknowledge the part that my parents in- law and parents played. Without t he i r emotional and l o g i s t i c a l support I doubt very much that t h i s thes is would have been wr i t t en . F i n a l l y , I would l i k e to acknowledge the v i t a l l y important on-going support provided by my family . Michael , K a r i , Chr i s t ine and above a l l my wife R i t a have provided and understanding atmosphere and unqual i f ied support that has proven to be invaluable i n the course of t h i s experience. I INTRODUCTION "For centuries education has retained i t s p r i v i l e g e d p o s i t i o n , being viewed as what Andrew Carnagie c a l l e d v the panacea for a l l i l l s of the body p o l i t i c ' and what Horace Mann termed v the great equa l i ze r ' " (Bur r i s , 1983a, p . 2 ) . Though t h i s statement i s s t i l l true today, i t i s being challenged as never before. Unemployment and underemploy-ment of even the highly educated i s leading to the question ing of the worth of higher education. This study w i l l examine one aspect of t h i s modern day dilemma, the under-employment of col lege graduates. P r io r to t h i s century, post-secondary education was t y p i c a l l y reserved for people of p r i v i l e g e and viewed p r imar i l y as an agency for t he i r own moral s o c i a l i z a t i o n . During the middle of the 20th. century, and e spec ia l ly the period after World War I I , enrollments i n post-secondary education increased. Bowles and Gintes (1976) report that by the la te 1950s one t h i r d of the high school graduates went on to col lege and by the la te 1960s t h i s had increased to h a l f . The increased enrollments were accompanied by changes i n the part post-secondary education played i n people's l i v e s . Once ava i lab le only to the v e l i t e ' , a col lege education was becoming more ea s i l y access ib le . Thi easy a c c e s s i b i l i t y combined with the number of ind iv idua l s taking advantage of t h i s opportunity led many to conclude that society was on the edge of a major change. Authors such as B e l l (1973) and Touraine (1971) document the expectation of a new v p o s t - i n d u s t r i a l ' society characterized by a greater emphasis on educated workers. Among the most s i g n i f i c a n t changes was a s h i f t i n viewing post-secondary education as a form of moral s o c i a l i z a t i o n to viewing i t as a form of technica l s o c i a l i z a t i o n leading to employment. One consequence of seeing post-secondary education from a vocat ional perspective i s that those who do not f ind t he i r employment commensurate with t he i r post-secondary educational experience tend to regard themselves as being underemployed. In recent years, with the increase of the phenomenon of underemployment the value of higher education i s being more intensely questioned. Underemployment i s i t s e l f d i f f i c u l t to define and i s by no means a straightforward concept. Nevertheless, some estimates of underemployment have ranged as high as 80 percent of the workforce (O'Toole, 1975). The Carnagie Commission (1973) predicted that approximately 25 * : percent of future col lege graduates would have to take jobs for which they were overeducated. Rumberger (1984) reports that as many as 25-50 percent of recent col lege graduates are overqua l i f ied for the i r current jobs (p.343). I t seems to be c lear from t h i s data that a col lege education i s even less of a guarantee for occupational success than i t was once thought to be. In fac t , Rumberger (1984) goes on to paint an even bleaker p ic ture for the 2 future of higher education. He indicates that "the ten occupations that w i l l produce the greatest number of jobs i n our future economy are unrelated to high technology.. .Most new jobs w i l l be i n low- leve l and c l e r i c a l f i e l d s " (p.344). As a r e su l t of t h i s , he argues, society w i l l become increas ingly b i - p o l a r , with some people having h igh- l eve l p rofess iona l , managerial jobs, while others are employed i n l o w - l e v e l , low paying service jobs (p.345). This move towards a polar society with the bulk of persons being i n the lower category h igh l igh ts the need to come to gr ips with the consequences of being underemployed. Studies such as Richards ' (1984) show that underemployment i s a source of f rus t ra t ion and discontent . A study, containing d is turbing f ind ings , Stack (1982) l i n k s su ic ide with underemployment. I t i s imperative that more research be conducted i n order to understand underemployment and to determine how best to help those who are underemployed. Up to the present time research in to underemployment i s sparse. Because underemployment i s both "conceptually and empi r i ca l ly e lus ive" (Glyde, 1977), researchers have tended to neglect i t . Burr i s (1983a) indicates that "what has been p a r t i c u l a r l y lacking i n ex i s t i ng research on underemployment has been in-depth q u a l i t a t i v e analysis of the microsocia l dimensions of t h i s problem" (p.3) . There i s a need to take a de ta i led look at t h i s phenomenon. This study w i l l attempt to redress some of the gaps i n underemployment research. By using an in-depth, q u a l i t a -3 t i v e , c r i t i c a l incident technique i t i s hoped that ins ights w i l l be gained in to the experience of being underemployed. The main question to be addressed by th i s study i s , "what i s the experience of underemployment for male col lege graduates?' . Other questions to be addressed w i l l include the fo l lowing : 1 . ) What i s the impact of underemployment on view of the future? 2. ) What i s the impact of underemployment on fami ly / interpersonal re la t ionships? 3. ) What i s the impact of underemployment on job sa t i s fac t ion? 4 . ) What factors make underemployment bearable or unbearable? 5. ) Is i t possible to be underemployed and s t i l l have a pos i t i ve self-image, a pos i t ive outlook on l i f e and pos i t i ve family/ in terpersonal re la t ionships? By asking t h i s question i t i s hoped that the body of knowledge surrounding underemployment w i l l be enhanced. I t i s a lso hoped that those experiencing underemployment w i l l benefit from the app l i ca t ion of the resu l t s of t h i s study. 4 I I REVIEW OF LITERATURE The l i t e r a t u r e devoted to underemployment addresses four main questions: What i s underemployment? Does under-employment ex is t? Who i s affected by underemployment? and What i s the re la t ionsh ip between underemployment and job sa t i s fac t ion? Defining_Underemployment Based on the ava i lab le l i t e r a t u r e there are at least eight operational de f in i t i ons of underemployment. These are as fo l lows: 1. A person i s considered underemployed i f h is /her education i s greater than one standard devia t ion above the mean education required for that occupation (Clogg, 1979; S u l l i v a n , 1978). 2. A person i s considered underemployed i f he/she expresses subjective feel ings of being under-employed (Solomon, et a l . , 1981; Solomon, B i s c o n t i and Ochsner, 1977). 3. A person i s considered underemployed i f he/she i s working short hours because there i s no more work ava i l ab l e , but would accept more work i f i t were offered. ( Internat ional Labour Organization, 1982; Ham, 1981; Richards, 1984). Sabot (1977) defines 5 this type of underemployment as v vis ib le ' . 4. A person is considered to be underemployed i f he/she is working full-time, but for an abnormally low wage. (Richards, 1984). Sabot (1977) defines this type of underemployment as v invisible' . 5. A person is considered to be underemployed i f his/ her actual education exceeds the number of years of education that he/she feels is necessary to perform V the job (Quinn and Mandilovitch,&1977). 6. A person is considered to be underemployed i f his/her education exceeds the GED level specified for any given job, when the GED level is converted into years of education (Berg, 1970; Burris, 1980; Rumberger, 1981). 7. A person is considered to be underemployed i f his/ her skil ls and training are inadequately used in his/her occupational setting (Richards, 1984). 8. A person is considered to be underemployed i f he/she has periodic and/or extended periods of unemployment in his/her work history (Toppen, 1971). Al l of these definitions are inadequate standing alone. Definitions 1, 3, 4, 6, and 7 are objective, and providing 6 the information required to make a determination can be obtained, they could be used to determine i f people are underemployed. They lack, however, the subjective component found i n de f in i t i ons 2 and 5. Could i t not be said that a person i s underemployed i f he/she feels underemployed? I f used alone t h i s determination of underemployment would probably prove unsat is factory , as would using only an object ive measure, since e i ther of these would only measure a part of the experience. De f in i t i on 8 does not f i t i n e i ther category and i s included only i n order to i l l u s t r a t e how our conceptual izat ion of underemployment has changed. Therefore, i t would seem useful to combine several of these de f in i t i ons and develop a new operational d e f i n i t i o n of underemployment. A possible d e f i n i t i o n could be that a person be considered underemployed i f he/she has one standard devia t ion more formal education than i s required for the job presently he ld , and i f he/she considers him/ herse l f to be underemployed. Th e_Ex i s t e n c e_o f_Un de r emp1oyment Berg (1970), i n h is book e n t i t l e d Education and  Jobs; The Great Training Robbery, was one of the f i r s t recent s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t to document empi r i ca l ly the existence of underemployment i n the United States. Using 1950 and 1960 Census data and a GED based ca l cu l a t i on Berg concluded that more v educated' people would end up i n middle 7 l eve l jobs and less v l e s s educated' people would enter these same jobs. Using the same data and a s im i l a r c a l cu l a t i on Rawlins and Ulman (1974) concluded that the increase i n educational opportunit ies resul ted because of an increase i n the number of people wanting higher education and had, i n fac t , very l i t t l e to do with jobs requi r ing more education. Rumberger (1981) using 1960 Census and 1976 CPS data and another GED based ca l cu l a t i on found that there was l i t t l e change i n occupational s k i l l s required between 1960 and 1976, but that there was a dramatic increase i n the educational attainments of the workforce. The resu l t s of t h i s trend are obvious. The Workers are becoming more educated than i s required for t he i r jobs. Rumberger (1984) s ta tes : The American workforce has already at tained an educational l eve l that exceeds the educational requirements of many jobs i n the economy...This growing imbalance between education and work not only affects workers who are forced to accept jobs for which they are overqua l i f i ed , but i t may also be in jur ious to the performance of the economy (p.342). This type of underemployment i s r e l a t i v e l y easy to observe, but what about those who feel they are underemployed. L i t e ra tu re on the subjective aspects of underemployment i s scanty, eventhough i t i s often assumed that how a worker feels about himself and his work can have an impact on his job performance. Attempts have been made to examine t h i s part of the underemployment phenomenon. Staines and Quinn (1979) found that from 1969 to 1977 there was an increase 8 from 27 percent to 35.6 percent of workers who f e l t that t he i r s k i l l s were being underu t i l i zed . According to Duncan and Hoffman (1978) 42 percent of a l l workers expressed feel ings of overeducation. Grandjean and Taylor (1980) surveying c l e r i c a l workers found that feel ings of s k i l l unde ru t i l i z a t i on were quite common. Rumberger (1984) suggests that as many as 25 to 50 percent of recent col lege graduates i n the United States are, or fee l that they are, overqual i f ied for t he i r current job. Underemployment i n Certain_Groups The above l i t e r a t u r e shows that underemployment i s a factor throughout a l l l eve ls of the workforce. However, col lege educated workers have occas ional ly been s ingled out and s tudied. Examining the period from 1950 to 1975, Jaffe and Froomkin (1978) found that entry l e v e l jobs and opportunit ies for college graduates and col lege attenders decl ined during t h i s per iod. The Carnagie Commission (1973) analyzing extensive data, found that almost 30 percent of male col lege graduates found themselves i n jobs which d id not make f u l l use of t he i r education. In his book The  Overeducated American, Freeman (1976) documents the changes i n the labour market for col lege graduates, i nd ica t ing the growing number of col lege graduates i n low- leve l jobs and the lack of a guaranteed return on a col lege degree. 9 On the other hand there are a few studies that are less c lear about the underemployment of the highly educated. Solomon, et a l . (1981) examining the underemployment of Ph.D.s found that while there was indeed underemployment i n t h i s group, a f u l l seven-tenths of the sample d id not consider themselves underemployed. Underemployment was not equated with being unable to work i n one's chosen f i e l d , rather reasons for being underemployed were: Wanting a pos i t i on that was more challenging and perceiving that the present job i s not commensurate with one's educational experience. Very few subjects indicated that t h e i r perception of underemployment was a t t r ibu tab le to holding a job not i n t h e i r graduate f i e l d . Instead, the "perception of underemployment i s p o s i t i v e l y corre la ted with o v e r a l l job s a t i s f ac t i on" (p.209). Stapp (1983) examining the membership of the American Psychological Associa t ion (APA) found that underemployment was not a factor for i t ' s members. Gottfredson and Swatko (1979) i n a large sample study of members of the APA, surrounding the issue of employment, found that holders of doctoral degrees fare better i n the labour market than do holders of master's degrees, and that women (unless they are s ingle) report more part-t ime employment, more underemployment, and more unemployment than do men. A l s o , "Master's l e v e l members more often that doctoral l eve l members fee l underemployed" (p.1052). 10 Energy has also been directed towards determining i f there are ce r t a in groups which are more prone to under-employment than others. Richards (1984), Burr i s (1980a) and S u l l i v a n (1978) a l l found that younger workers were more l i k e l y to be underemployed. Two possible p a r t i a l explana-t ions for t h i s are that they tend to be better educated than t he i r elders and that they are i n v e n t r y - l e v e l ' jobs. Richards (1984) also points out that these v e n t r y - l e v e l ' jobs should be appropriate to t he i r in teres ts and s k i l l s i f they are to have a pos i t ive effect on long-term vocat ional outcome, since " i t i s a lso true that a graduate's occupational pos i t i on the year after graduation had a great deal to do with the probable outcome 2 years l a t e r . Some people remained stranded i n low-status, dead-end jobs, unhappy or at best resigned to t he i r s i tua t ions" (p.317). -Stuck i n chronic underemployment. Women are more often underemployed than men and with d i f f e r i n g r e s u l t s . O'Toole (1977) found that women were more apt to be underemployed while Su l l i van (1978) found that while women tended to be underu t i l i zed ( i e . involuntary part-time work) they were less l i k e l y to be underemployed ( i e . matched up with the wrong job) . Gottfredson and Swatko (1979) found that women psychologists were more l i k e l y to be underemployed than there male counterparts e spec ia l ly i f they were married. Rumberger (1981) found that women were more l i k e l y to be underemployed at the higher education l eve l but not at the lower. That i s , they are less l i k e l y to be able to use the i r post-secondary education the more education they receive . A l s o , t h i s probably r e f l ec t s the greater number of women i n c l e r i c a l and whi t e -co l l a r jobs which tend to have a higher GED ra t ing than do b lue - co l l a r jobs. The impact of race and s o c i a l c lass upon underemploy-ment has barely been touched upon i n the l i t e r a t u r e . S u l l i v a n (1978) found that whites were more prone to under-employment simply because of the fact that non-whites are general ly able to obtain less education. An in te res t ing f inding i n her study was that i f non-whites manage to get a higher l eve l education they are less l i k e l y to be under-u t i l i z e d than whites. Rumberger (1981) confirmed these f ind ings . The issue of s o c i a l c lass af fect ing underemployment i s much more d i f f i c u l t to determine. Only two studies came to l i g h t which addressed t h i s i ssue . Burr is (1980) and Bourdieu and Passeron (1979) both found that people from working-class backgrounds were more prone to underemploy-ment. This i s an in te res t ing f inding since one could assume that i t would be more d i f f i c u l t for persons with working-class backgrounds to get enough education i n order to be considered underemployed. I t i s possible that herein l i e s evidence of d i sc r imina t ion i n employment along s o c i a l c lass l i n e s . C lea r ly there i s more research needed i n t h i s area. 12 Underemployment and Job Sa t i s fac t ion The re la t ionsh ip between underemployment and job s a t i s f ac t i on has been given r e l a t i v e l y more a t tent ion than the r e l a t ionsh ip between s o c i a l c lass and race and under-employment. Richards (1984b) has wr i t t en : Underemployment among highly educated workers has generally been assumed to be a source of f rus t ra t ion and discontent for those d i r e c t l y affected by i t (p.305). In her study, and i n others, t h i s has been shown to be t rue . Solomon et a l . (1981), found that one's job does not have to be re la ted to one's col lege major i n order to fee l that one's s k i l l s are being u t i l i z e d . They also found that feel ings of d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n due to unde ru t i l i z a t i on increased with vocat ional tenure. This indicates that tenure alone does not lead to job s a t i s f a c t i o n , which meshes n i c e l y with Richards (1984b) f inding that high income only adds to job s a t i s f ac t i on i f job f i t i s also high. Kalleberg and Sorensen (1973) found that job d i s s a t i s -fac t ion was f e l t by a l l over- t rained workers regardless of educational l e v e l . Rumberger (1980), Berg (1970), Solmon et a l . (1981), Richards (1984b) have a l l found substant ia l cor re la t ions between job d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n and underemploy-ment. Quinn and Mandilovi tch (1977) examining 16 studies of the r e l a t ionsh ip between education and job s a t i s f ac t i on found that : a.) overeducated workers more l i k e l y to be d i s s a t i s f i e d ; b.) undereducated workers were more l i k e l y to 13 be satisfied; and c.) that the relationship between education and job satisfaction was nonlinear, with higher levels of overeducation leading to higher levels of dissatisfaction. Summary It is possible to conclude from this literature review that higher education is a l l bad when in fact the opposite is true. Higher levels of education have been correlated with improved health, better mental health, more satisfying leisure time, increased satisfaction with l i fe , etc. (eg. Bowen, 1977; Withey, 1972). It is when highly educated people are confronted with underemployment that difficulties arise. This is never more apparent than when we can say in one breath that educated workers possess a wide range of advantageous occupational attitudes (Collins, 1979) and that underemployed, well educated workers exhibit lower levels of job involvement (Kalleberg and Sorensen, 1973) and higher rates of absenteeism and turnover (Berg, 1970). It seems clear then that the benefits of a higher education lose their value within the context of underemployment. Beverly Burris (1983 b) writes: Higher education produces increased job dissatisfaction, higher turn over rates, reduced job involvement, impaired co-worker relations, and more emphasis on future aspirations (p.96). 14 Based on the l i t e r a t u r e , t h i s seems to be the proper percep-t i o n of the rea l economic, occupational world. Unfortunate-l y , even though t h i s i s a p ic ture of yesterday and today, the immediate future looks no better (Cohen and Shannon, 1984) . 15 I l l METHODOLOGY Subjects Par t ic ipants were selected for t h i s study i f they possessed one standard deviat ion more formal education than they needed for the job presently held and i f they considered themselves to be underemployed. The educational l eve l required for the present occupation was taken from the Canadian Dict ionary of Occupations, 1971 e d i t i o n . A comparison of educational l eve l required and educational l eve l at tained i s given i n Table 1. P a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the study was voluntary. Par t ic ipants were e l i c i t e d through personal contact, contacts through the Commerce Placement Office at the Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia and by contacts made through the New Westminster Counsell ing Centre. Fi f teen underemployed, male col lege graduates were interviewed. The sample was l imi t ed to males i n order to maintain a higher degree of homogeneity. These men have a l l received the i r col lege degrees wi th in the l a s t ten years. (See Table 2 for Demographic Information.) Methodological Approach Finsterbusch (1976) presents a convincing argument for using small samples i n research. He indicates that after a minimum threshold i s reached each addi t iona l interview 16 TABLE 1 EDUCATIONAL LEVEL COMPARISON RESPONDENT OCCUPATION Customs Clerk EDUCATION REQUIRED GRADE 10-12 EDUCATION ATTAINED BA Woodworker/ Labourer 8-10 BA P a r t i a l MA Parking Lot Attendant no formal education required BA Bus Driver 9-10 BA P a r t i a l MA Rehab i l i t a t i on A c t i v i t i e s Coordinator 10-12 MA Freelance/ Street Musician 10-12 MA Bank Clerk 10-12 BA Gas Stat ion Manager 10-12 BA Construction Labourer 6-8 BA 10 C i v i l Service Manager 10-12 BA (Table continues) 17 11 Bank Clerk 12 Construction Labourer 13 A i r l i n e Clerk 14 Elementary Teacher 15 Bank Messenger 10-12 BA 6-8 BA no formal MA education required BA/Teaching PhD C e r t i f i c a t e 8-10 B.Com 18 TABLE 2 DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION EDUCATION 1. ) BA 2 . ) BA + 3. ) BA 4. ) BA + 5. ) MA 6. ) MA 7. ) BA 8 . ) BA + 9. ) BA 10. ) BA 11. ) BA AGE 29 30 38 30 43 26 25 28 27 31 32 MARITAL STATUS Married Single OCCUPATION Customs Clerk Woodworker/ Labourer Divorced/engaged Parking l o t Attendant Single Divorced/Married Involved Single Married Single Bus Driver Rehab i l i t a t i on A c t i v i t i e s Coordinator Freelance/ Street Musician Bank Clerk Gas Stat ion Manager Construct ion/ Labourer Married Single C i v i l Service Manager Bank Clerk (Table continues) 19 12. ) BA 30 13. ) MA 34 14. ) PhD 48 15. ) BA 26 Average age 31.8 Married Construction Labourer Divorced/Involved A i r l i n e Clerk Married Elementary Teacher Engaged Bank Messenger 20 produces dec l in ing and marginally useful information. Swinburne (1981), r e fe r r ing to unemployment, could just as ea s i l y have been speaking of underemployment when she says that " learning about the consequences of unemployment en t a i l s understanding sens i t ive thoughts and feel ings which do not lend themselves to survey techniques, hence the need for small-sample i n depth studies" (p.47). Borgen and Amundson (1984) also addressing unemployment research, but also equally relevant to t h i s study, state that such a methodology allows "unemployed people to describe quite frankly t he i r experience of unemployment without being led to one emphasis or another by d i r ec t questions of the interviewers" (p.12). G io rg i (1975) describes eight cha rac te r i s t i c s of phen-omenological research that meet the above requirements. These are: "1 . F i d e l i t y to the phenomenon as i t i s l i v e d . . . 2. Primacy of l i f e w o r l d . . . 3. Descr ip t ive approach. . . 4. Expression of s i t ua t i on from viewpoint of sub jec t . . . 5. S i tua t ion as un i t of research implies s t ruc tu ra l approach. . . 6. Biographical emphases... 7. Engaged researchers . . . 8. Search for meaning. . ." (p.99-101). Fischer (1979) states that phenomenological research i s a "comprehension of experience as i t i s l i v e d — e x i s t e n t i a l l y / b e h a v i o r a l l y / r e f l e c t i v e l y " , and that " f a i t h fu l descr ipt ions of pa r t i cu l a r kinds of exper iences . . . can be researched for t he i r common structure" (p.116). 21 It can be said that phenomenological research is the best methodology that allows people to te l l their own stories, emphasizing the value of their viewpoints and analysis of the experience facilitated by the behaviour of the interviewer. Flanagan (1954) put forward a technique which combined a subject's viewpoint of an experience with a directive interviewing technique. His approach, the cri t ical incident technique, is designed to e l ic i t facilitating and hindering incidents within a certain experience and then to develop a verifiable classification system of these incidents. It has proven to be a very effective method of identifying facilitating and hindering factors of an experience (Anderson & Nilsson, 1964; Herzberg, Mausner & Snyderman, 1959; Flanagan, 1978). In their study entitled The  Experience of Unemployment Borgen and Amundson (1984) used a combination of these two methodologies to establish and document the positive and negative experiences of being unemployed. This study used this methodology, the combination of an in depth qualitative/critical incident technique, as developed by Borgen and Amundson (1984) in order to acquire an in depth understanding of the experience of underemploy-ment in college graduates. A small sample of people (N=15) was interviewed in order to acquire an understanding of the phenomena. 22 P i l o t Interview and Research Questions A p i l o t interview was conducted i n order to assess the c l a r i t y of the questions, to es tab l i sh the respondent's perception of and feedback on the interview as a whole, and to al low the interviewer the opportunity to become fami l i a r with the interview i t s e l f . The questions asked during the interview were as fo l lows: 1. I ' d l i k e you to t e l l your own story of your experience with being underemployed. Just l i k e any story there 's always a beginning, middle and end. Could you begin before you f e l t underemployed, and continue to describe your experience i n terms of thoughts, fee l ings , actions and what you've done to change the s i t u a t i o n . 2. Could you please t e l l me when i t was that you f i r s t became aware that you were underemployed? 3. Could you describe what you consider to be your lowest points i n being underemployed? For example, s t a r t ing with the f i r s t low point you can remember, what happened exact ly and why was i t d i f f i c u l t for you? 4. Now turning to the high points during t h i s experience, s ta r t with the f i r s t high point you can 23 remember, and why i t was helpful to you. 5. What was un ive r s i ty l i k e for you? 6. Were you th inking of get t ing a spec i f i c kind of job after graduation? 7. What are your expectations about the future r igh t now? 8. What impact, i f any, has your underemployment had on your r e l a t ionsh ip with your family or s i g n i f i c a n t others? 9. How o ld are you? 10. What i s your present mar i ta l status? 11. What i s your present occupation? Upon completion of the p i l o t interview the respondent was asked the fol lowing questions: 1. Were there any parts of the interview which you found confusing, unclear, or d i f f i c u l t i n any way? 2. Did you at any time fee l that you needed to adapt your answers because of my comments? 3. In general , what was your perception of the interview? 24 4. Do you have any further comments or suggestions r e l a t i n g to the improvement of such an interview for the purpose of f a c i l i t a t i n g your descr ip t ion of the experience of being underemployed? In response to question one the respondent indicated that while the questions were c lear t he i r very nature caused a great deal of thought which was at times d i f f i c u l t to deal wi th . He suggested that future respondents would benefit from more advance warning as to the content of the in terv iew. Responding to question two the respondent indicated that he had not f e l t swayed by my comments. However, he again indica ted that the nature of the questions led to a great deal of in t rospect ion which led him to modify h is answers while i n the process of responding. The respondent's general perception of the interview was p o s i t i v e . He responded that i t was f a i r l y s t r a igh t -forward and that my interviewing s ty le had allowed him to t e l l h i s s tory . He was concerned that t h i s s ty le of i n t e r -view may al low people to ramble and make i t more d i f f i c u l t for me to ascer ta in what was r e a l l y going on. Question four proved quite a mouth f u l l , but was under-stood when repeated. The respondent said that the only thing he could think of was to get more advance warning to the future respondents. However, he also f e l t that h is 25 answers would not have changed had he known the questions i n advance. What would have changed for him was that he would have f e l t more comfortable during the in terview, had he been more informed at the outset. An issue that surfaced e a r l i e r i n the in terview, but which does not come up now, was that the respondent was somewhat uncomfortable with the term "underemployment'. He f e l t more comfortable with "unde ru t i l i z ed ' or vovereducated ' . Since these terms are often used i n t e r -changeably i n the l i t e r a t u r e , I intended to make use of them i n future interviews i f the issue arose again. Question seven of the actual in terview, which read: "What are your expectations of the future r igh t now?", proved to be a l i t t l e unclear. In order to c l a r i f y i t I added: "For example, do you general ly fee l op t imis t i c or pess imis t ic about the future?". This helped and I made i t part of the question for the rest of the in terviews. Along with the two changes already mentioned I made contact with the respondents approximately one week i n advance and asked them to take time during the next week to organize t he i r thoughts around being underemployed. I t was hoped that t h i s would a l l e v i a t e some of the concerns mentioned by the p i l o t interview respondent, and help the other respondents fee l more comfortable during the in terview. This d id indeed prove to be the case as several respondents mentioned that they had appreciated the lead time. 26 The Interview Each interview began with the researcher presenting a subject consent form to be signed by both the respondent and researcher. The date of the interview and the respondents telephone number are also recorded on t h i s form. (See Appendix A ) . An iden t i fy ing code number was l i s t e d on the top r igh t corner of the consent form. After the form was completed the tape-recorder, containing the tape l abe l l ed with the corresponding number, was turned on. The researcher then began the interview using the prepared questions.(See Appendix C) . After each question the respondent was allowed su f f i c i en t time i n order to answer i n as much d e t a i l as poss ib le . The interviewer encouraged t h i s by using a non-direct ive s ty le as suggested by Borgen and Amundson (1984 p.12 & 13). This approach consis ts p r imar i l y of minimal f a c i l i t a t i n g comments such as "yes" and "I see" with some use of open-ended questions, paraphrasing, l i n k i n g , and summarizing as required to f a c i l i t a t e elaborat ion on the part of the respondent. Great care was taken not to sway the respondent i n any way. When a l l questions had been addressed, the respondent was asked i f there was anything that they would l i k e to add. After t h i s opportunity the researcher explained that a few respondents would be randomly selected at a l a t e r date for a follow-up v a l i d i t y check of the data analysis and that t h i s would happen v i a a short telephone in terview. DataAna lys i s The data from t h i s study were analyzed fol lowing the model developed by Borgen and Amundson (1984), which consists of four steps: 1. Transcribing the taped in terviews. 2. A) L i s t i n g a l l emotional sh i f t s and re la ted s i t u a t i o n a l factors on a r a t ing sheet developed by Borgen and Amundson (1984). (See Appendix B) . B) R e l i a b i l i t y Check of the ra t ing sheet categories and the number of sh i f t s recorded. This was computed by having a fel low graduate student, not involved i n the research, place a se lec t ion of the data on the ra t ing sheets and comparing i t to that done by the researcher. A 90% agreement was considered to be acceptable. In fac t , a 94% agreement rate was achieved by the graduate student when sor t ing 5 or 30%, randomly selected t r a n s c r i p t s . 3. A) Sort ing emotional sh i f t s v i a themes and r e su l t i ng establishment of categories of c r i t i c a l inc iden t s . 28 B) R e l i a b i l i t y Check of the established categories. Another graduate student was asked to sort through a l l of the r a t ing sheets, p lac ing the emotional sh i f t s in to the categories developed by the researcher. A 90% agreement rate was considered to be acceptable, and a 91% agreement rate was achieved. 4. A) Es tab l i sh ing a descr ip t ion of the experience by a combination of category ana lys i s , r a t ing sheet ana lys i s , and i n d i v i d u a l question ana lys i s . B) V a l i d i t y Check of the f i n a l outcome by a fo l low-up telephone c a l l interview with a se lec t ion of respondents, who were asked to ve r i fy whether or not the descr ip t ion a r r ived at accurately r e f l ec t s t he i r experience. 5 or 3 3% of the respondents were contacted. The por t ion of the ra t ing sheet which describes events or behaviours accompanying spec i f i c emotions was read to the respondent who was then asked to respond to the accuracy of t h i s summary of t he i r experience. Without exception the respondents f e l t that t he i r experiences had been accurately captured. Comments such as, " I t ' s very good, yes very good", "You did a good job summarizing", "Sounds pret ty good", Yeah, i t 29 captures i t " , "Right on", "That's great", sum up the respondents responses. Based on the high degree of accuracy shown i n these checks i t i s f e l t that the organizat ion of the data accurately r e f l ec t s the experience of underemployment as re la ted by these respondents. 30 IV RESULTS AND DISCUSSION The resu l t s of the data analysis form the fol lowing two major sect ions , r e su l t i ng i n an exhaustive descr ip t ion of the experience of underemployment for male col lege graduates. The f i r s t sect ion contains a de ta i led analysis of the c r i t i c a l inc ident categories . The second sect ion follows with a content analysis of the various responses with respect to pre-graduation work experience, the un ive rs i ty experience, job search experience, the beginnings of fee l ing underemployed, i n i t i a l view of the future, the effects of knowing one i s underemployed, present s tatus, and future expectations. A. Cr i t i ca l_ Inc iden t_Ana lys i s of the Underemployment Experience Three hundred and eighteen c r i t i c a l incidents were i d e n t i f i e d from the t ranscr ip t s of the in terviews. These 318 incidents were then placed in to 29 categories , which were separated in to those which occurred before underemploy-ment and those which occurred after underemployment. These categories were further broken down in to negative and p o s i t i v e . Table 3 gives the rank order and a summary of the pos i t i ve and negative categories for the v before under-employment ' categories and Tables 4 and 5 do the same for the after underemployment categories . Overal l 2 9 pos i t ive 31 TABLE 3 RANK ORDER SUMMARY OF CRITICAL INCIDENT CATEGORIES *BEFORE UNDEREMPLOYMENT' POSITIVE NUMBER OF NUMBER OF PERSONS INCIDENTS PER INCIDENT Enjoyed u n i v e r s i t y . 19 13 Hopeful that a degree w i l l get him a good job. Wanted a spec i f i c job after graduation. Happy to graduate. 3 2 NEGATIVE D i s l i k e d un ive r s i ty 13 11 Disappointed after graduation. 10 Confused about career choice. Underwent a period of unemployment. Worried about the future. TABLE 4 RANK ORDER SUMMARY OF CRITICAL INCIDENT CATEGORIES s AFTER UNDEREMPLOYMENT' POSITIVE NUMBER OF INCIDENTS NUMBER OF PERSONS PER INCIDENT 1. Feel ing Supported 13 10 2. Pleased with the job, 12 3. Trying to change the s i t u a t i o n . 4. Happy to get a job. 13 10 Aware of what they are doing and i n control of the s i t u a t i o n . Pos i t i ve about the future. 6. Using personal strengths to overcome the s i t u a t i o n . 11 Pursues in te res t s outside of work. 8. Pos i t i ve effect on personal re la t ionsh ips 33 TABLE 5 RANK ORDER SUMMARY OF CRITICAL INCIDENT CATEGORIES " AFTER UNDEREMPLOYMENT' NEGATIVE NUMBER OF INCIDENTS NUMBER OF PERSONS PER INCIDENT D i s i l l u s i o n e d with present s i t u a t i o n . 48 14 Negative effect on personal r e l a t i onsh ips . 27 13 Feelings of insecur i ty and doubt. 19 12 Incidents of depression, 17 10 Negative about the future, 12 Resigned to t h e i r fate, 13 Problems with co-workers or supervisors . 16 Using excuses or r a t i o n a l -i z i n g to expla in s i tua t ion , Worried about i n s u f f i c i e n t income. Blames the government or soc ie ty . Annoyed at a wasted education. and 32 negative c r i t i c a l incidents were i d e n t i f i e d i n the before underemployment sect ion and 85 pos i t i ve and 172 negative c r i t i c a l incidents were i d e n t i f i e d i n the after underemployment sec t ion . Each of the categories w i l l be described b r i e f l y . The range of the experience i s given by attempting to re la te the differences experienced, by the respondents wi th in the category. A l s o , the number of people mentioning the factor and the number of incidents making up each category i s given. F i n a l l y , a d i r ec t quotation from one of the interviews i l l u s t r a t e s the category. Before Underemployment; Pos i t i ve C r i t i c a l Incident Categories Enjoyed Univers i ty This category includes a l l the pos i t ive aspects of un ive r s i ty l i f e . Range. Included are s o c i a l i z i n g , broadening one's horizons, meeting people of d i f ferent backgrounds, being stimulated and challenged by new learn ing , experiencing a new freedom to be on one's own, benefi t ing from r e l a t i o n -ships with car ing professors and other students. Quite simply, included i n t h i s category are a l l the fond memories of the un ive r s i ty experience. (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 13 or 87%, number of inc idents : 19). I l l u s t r a t i o n . " As a whole I found my col lege experience to be tremendously enjoyable. I t challenged the mind and I enjoyed the s o c i a l aspects as w e l l . Just being together with a bunch of people, b a s i c a l l y having the same goals , and who are at the same l eve l of functioning or t h ink ing , you're l i k e a b ig fami ly . I t was a very pos i t i ve experience. I fee l that that the ex t r a -cu r r i cu l a r a c t i v i t i e s and the things that I took outside of my pa r t i cu l a r f i e l d of in te res t have widened my horizons a great d e a l . " Hopeful that a Degree w i l l get Him a Good Job This category i s derived from the notion that i f you get the proper degree and you w i l l get a good job. A good job i s defined as work that i s bearable and provides a l e v e l of income that allows one to l i v e i n comfort as defined by one's reference group (Shibutani , 1961, Ch.8) . This manner of th ink ing has been pre-dominant i n society for some time. Range. Four respondents were hopeful that they would land good job because of t he i r degrees. A l l of these had entered t he i r respective f i e l d s for reason of future employ-ment. None were i n t he i r programmes simply for the sake of learning or improving themselves. In fact some were i n f i e l d s of study they d id not enjoy simply because they expected to get good jobs after graduation. (Number of 36 people mentioning t h i s fac tor : 4 or 27%, number of inc iden ts : 4) . I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I spec ia l i zed i n computer science, not that I had any great love for computer science. I t looked l i k e a good f i e l d to go i n t o , so I went through i t , coming out perhaps a l i t t l e na ive ly . I thought, wonderful, now you've got a degree, now i t ' s time to go out and pick up a job. " Wanted a Spec i f i c Job after Graduation This category contains the notion that one goes to un ive rs i ty with a spec i f i c job i n mind, and that one i s bound and determined to get that job. Range. A l l four men i n t h i s category knew exact ly what kind of job they wanted after graduation. For example, one wanted to enter the diplomatic corps, and another wanted to be a un ive r s i ty professor. They recount that t h i s goal was an important motivating factor throughout t h e i r education and that not get t ing these jobs has proven to be very d isappoint ing . (Number of people mentioning t h i s fac tor : 3 or 20%, number of incidents 3) . I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I knew that I l i k e d music, but I knew r igh t away that i t was composing that I l i k e d . And that was what I wanted to do. I put myself through un ive r s i t y d r iv ing bus, and I took composition. After that I went to Montreal, took more music and got student loans. Then, a l l 37 of a sudden when you're finished you're not a composer." Happy to Graduate This category refers to a feeling of relief or excitement upon graduation. A university experience can be a long and arduous experience and i t would be expected that students would look forward to the day when they graduate. Range. However, only 2 respondents mentioned any strong feelings about graduation. Both of these were older than the norm and had returned to school for the purpose of completing degrees. Most of the sample were more concerned about what they would do after graduation than about graduation itself . (Number of people mentioning this factor: 2 or 13%, number of incidents 3). Illustration. "The convocation itself I found thri l l ing. I had not thought I would, but I did find i t very, very exciting. I was very happy that I had finished i t . I would have been miserable i f I had not finished. It would have been a consistent low for the rest of my l i fe i f I had not finished. That would have been much, much worse than not landing the job I wanted." 38 Before Underemployment: Negative C r i t i c a l Incident Categories D i s l i k e d Univers i ty Included i n t h i s category i s everything that can be negative about a un ive r s i ty education. Range. Members described such issues as, no s o c i a l l i f e , being lone ly , c o n f l i c t s with professors, lack of money, hating the work, fee l ing l i k e education i s useless . Chief among complaints was that they saw no relevance to what they were learning when compared to the v r e a l ' world. (Number of persons mentioning t h i s fac tor : 11 or 73%, number of inc iden t s : 13). I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I was al ienated when I was i n u n i v e r s i t y . I t was a god damn g r ind . I had a l o t of trouble concentrating on anything and I can remember s i t t i n g and forcing myself to study. I t was pret ty thoroughly f ru s t r a t i ng . I d id not s o c i a l i z e at school . My p r i o r i t i e s were not those of my classmates and peers. So there was a l o t of l one l ine s s . " Disappointed after Graduation This category indicates that coming face to face with an unfriendly r e a l i t y , after graduation i s an experience that creates d i s i l lus ionment . Dreams are shattered and 39 l i f e - p l a n s must be res t ructured. Range. Even i f students are not expecting a spec i f i c job after graduation, most are expecting some kind of job that at leas t allows them to use some of t he i r s k i l l s , or an entry l e v e l pos i t i on that w i l l eventually lead to a job that w i l l be close to what they t ra ined fo r . This category defines the r e a l i z a t i o n that none of t h i s i s l i k e l y to happen, at least not very q u i c k l y . Coming face to face with t h i s r e a l i t y i s not an enjoyable experience. (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 9 or 60%, number of inc iden ts : 10). I l l u s t r a t i o n . In the words of one of the respondents: " I t ' s the s h i t s ! " . Another respondent sa id : "I was a newly minted PhD, shining with ambition and a desire to go for th and do great th ings . And i t seemed that t h i s would just not happen". Confused about Career Choice This category indicates that students do not receive adequate t r a i n i n g or opportunit ies to undertake career planning. Consequently they are confused about t he i r career choices and opt ions. Range. Members of t h i s category showed t h i s not to be t rue . Two found i t quite impossible to select a career that they would l i k e to pursue. This indec i s ion makes i t 40 d i f f i c u l t for them to conduct a proper job search thereby increasing the l i k e l i h o o d that they w i l l be underemployed. Conversely, one member was so narrowly focused on a spec i f i c career choice that when he could not achieve that career he had no acceptable a l te rna t ives and too ended up being underemployed. (Number of people mentioning t h i s fac tor : 3 or 20%, number of inc idents : 4) . I l l u s t r a t i o n . "Well I graduated from un ive r s i ty and went to Quebec for a year. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I mean, with a BA you're kind of l i m i t e d , there 's just not too many a l te rna t ives as far as jobs go. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, I was s t i l l th inking of going back to school . . . . I f teaching f a l l s through, tha t ' s sort of my l a s t hope, except for w r i t i n g . I s t i l l wanna be a w r i t e r . " Underwent a Period of Unemployment This category refers to undergoing a period of unemployment after graduating from un ive r s i t y . I t i s expected that most graduates w i l l not move d i r e c t l y in to a job, some by choice. Therefore, a person had to be want a job and be involved i n a job search to qua l i fy as being i n a period of unemployment. Range. Members revealed a general lack of patience and s k i l l s when looking for a job. In general , the men i n t h i s sample d id not adequately look for work nor know how to undertake a proper job search. As a consequence of t h i s , many se t t l ed for jobs that l e f t them underemployed instead of s t r i v i n g for employment that would be better sui ted to t he i r educational l e v e l . (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 2 or 13%, number of inc iden ts : 4) . I l l u s t r a t i o n . "After a very short time of being unemployed, I found that I couldn ' t stand being unemployed. I t was d r i v i n g me r i gh t round the bend. I couldn ' t just s i t there and not being very ambitious, I couldn ' t go out there and pound on the r igh t doors. I suppose I'm not very good at s e l l i n g myself, and e s s e n t i a l l y , I found out, you have to do that . You have to s e l l yourself i n order to get a job. I f e l t very uncomfortable t ry ing to do that . I t d i d n ' t just come na tu ra l ly to me. So e s sen t i a l l y I ca r r ied on looking for a job hoping one would drop i n my l ap . " Worried About the Future This category addresses the notion that i f things are not going i n one's favour then one should be worried about the future. Concerns about the future include personal f u l f i l l m e n t , along with an adequate l i f e s t y l e . Range. One member mentioned being worried about income, housing, r e l a t i onsh ips , a l l the things our society dic ta tes we s t r i v e fo r . " W i l l I be able to do what I want to do?" may be the sa l i en t question of t h i s category. Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 1 or .07%, number of inc iden t s : 1) . 42 I l l u s t r a t i o n . "As I get older I f e l t sort of , s t a r t ing to wonder, l i k e i s i t going to happen. . . . You kind of shake yoursel f , to r e a l i z e that you're s t i l l working at that job. Nothings changed. Maybe i t w i l l never happen. I guess i t ' s a l i t t l e b i t of paranoia." Being Underemployed: Pos i t ive C r i t i c a l Incident Categories Feel ing Supported This category includes support, such as emotional, f i n a n c i a l and counse l l ing , from f r iends , fami ly , g i r l f r iends , spouses and others. Range. Members of t h i s category are usual ly re fe r r ing to emotional support, but f i n a n c i a l support and more p r a c t i c a l support, such as career counse l l ing , are also mentioned. Several members referred to how much they appreciated the support of t h e i r wives. Others mentioned that friends had r a l l i e d around them. S t i l l others mentioned how much they appreciated that t he i r parents had stuck with them g iv ing them encouragement as wel l as f i n a n c i a l support. (Number of people mentioning t h i s fac tor : 10 or 67%, number of inc iden ts : 13). I l l u s t r a t i o n . "Out of a l l of t h i s , t h i s star came through. My aunt said that they knew that some day soon I ' d be making $40,000 a year, and that they believed i n me and that of course they would help me out, no s t r ings attached. I t almost brought tears to my eyes. I t was a good f e e l i n g . They bel ieved i n me and that was a l l that mattered. They were family and that was i t . Uncondit ional , there were no conditions on i t . " Pleased with the Job This category refers to those who are e i ther happy with t he i r present job or at leas t f ind i t somewhat p o s i t i v e . Range. No one was w i l d l y enthusias t ic about h is job. Some found that the job was not as bad as they f i r s t feared and that they think that they can survive . Without exception the 9 respondents who f i t t h i s category are those i n jobs that provide and adequate or good income. (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 9 or 60%, number of inc iden t s : 12). I l l u s t r a t i o n . " I 've always had a job which has been quite quite demanding, also quite s a t i s f y i n g . But I 've also earned enough money that I never f e l t that I should look for something e l s e . " Trying to Change the S i tua t ion Included i n t h i s category are effor ts on the part of the respondent to improve his s i t u a t i o n , to somehow 44 undertake to escape underemployment. Range. Members of t h i s category re la ted effor ts l i k e r e - t r a i n i n g , p o l i t i c a l maneuvering wi th in the organizat ion, using contacts to t r y and change jobs or beginning another job search. Without exception these effor ts were made without enthusiasm or hope that they would succeed. (Number of people mentioning t h i s fac tor : 8 or 53%, number of inc iden t s : 13). I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I had applied for the masters degree programme at u n i v e r s i t y , but they rejected me. They said to re-apply, but I ' d have to move and everything, so I haven' t . I'm get t ing some career counsel l ing and I'm hopeful that something w i l l come of i t . I'm op t imis t i c about that . . . . So I'm a l i t t l e exci ted about that , but over the past while I 've been very pe s s imi s t i c . " Happy to get a Job With an approximate unemployment rate of 14% i n the province most of the respondents were a f ra id that they would become unemployed after graduation and probably remain so for some time. Consequently there was at leas t some joy i n get t ing a job of any k ind . Range. Several members indicated that they were desperate for work and consequently took the f i r s t job that came a long, and were happy to get i t . Others f e l t that underemployment was the lesser of two e v i l s , since i t at leas t provided some measure of income and allowed a degree of independence. (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 8 or 53%, number of inc iden ts : 10). I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I graduated r igh t i n the middle of the recess ion. In other words, when I got out at that time there were no jobs for nobody. So I b a s i c a l l y took what I could f i n d , and tha t ' s what I could f i n d . " Aware of what he's doing and i n control of the s i t ua t i on This category refers to the ind iv idua l s perception that he does indeed know what he i s doing and i s i n fact i n control of h is career and l i f e . Range. Respondents indicated that they were aware that they were taking jobs that would leave them underemployed. A l l members of t h i s category f e l t that they could handle t h i s and that they could control t he i r emotions and survive t h i s s i t u a t i o n . (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 7 or 4 7%, number of inc iden ts : 8) . I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I knew when I took the job that I was underemployed. I took i t because I had nothing e l se . I had found nothing for about two months and I took i t with that i n mind. I was under no i l l u s i o n s at that po in t . I knew what I was doing." 46 P o s i t i v e about the f u t u r e The primary concern of t h i s category i s a p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e towards one's p e r s o n a l f u t u r e and one's c a r e e r f u t u r e . Range. The d i s t i n c t i o n was made between p e r s o n a l f u t u r e and c a r e e r f u t u r e . Most respondents were q u i t e p o s i t i v e about t h e i r p e r s o n a l f u t u r e s , f e e l i n g t h a t they would always be ab l e t o get along, but q u i t e n e g a t i v e about t h e i r c a r e e r f u t u r e . One member of t h i s group though was very n e g a t i v e about h i s pe r s o n a l f u t u r e , f e e l i n g t h a t he had messed i t up, but p o s i t i v e about h i s ca r e e r f e e l i n g t h a t i t would e v e n t u a l l y t u r n around. (Number of person mentioning t h i s f a c t o r : 7 or 47%, number of i n c i d e n t s : 8). I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I am o p t i m i s t i c . I have somehow made some important d e c i s i o n s i n my l i f e r e g a r d i n g what i t ' s worth i n terms of f u l f i l l i n g e x p e c t a t i o n s of myself, of other people. I know t h a t I ' l l probably never be r i c h , I ' l l never own my own home, but I'm o p t i m i s t i c t h a t I'm going t o be happy and f u l f i l l e d i n what I'm doing." U t i l i z i n g Personal Strengths t o Overcome S i t u a t i o n T h i s category emphasizes u s i n g ones per s o n a l s t r e n g t h s , such as t a l e n t s or hobbies t o help one through t h i s s i t u a t i o n . 47 Range. Several members of t h i s category mentioned that they had gone through a period of deep in t rospect ion of t h e i r l i f e goals and the development of a new set of p r i o r i t i e s . Others mentioned that i n dealing with the emotional upheaval caused by being underemployed, they had discovered personal strengths and inner resources that they had been unaware of before. (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 5 or 33%, number of inc iden ts : 11). I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I was forced to look at myself. I took some time and went to a r e l i g i o u s co l l ege . As a r e su l t I changed my goals . I now value re la t ionsh ips more than career". Pursues Interests Outside of Work This category emphasizes that some of the respondents looked to areas other than work i n order to use t he i r un ive r s i ty t r a i n i n g . Range. Members of t h i s category ta lked about a c t i v i t i e s such as doing volunteer work, teaching courses at night school , p laying music for the e l d e r l y , or put t ing a l o t of e f for t in to a hobby. (Number of people mentioning t h i s fac tor : 5 or 33%, number of inc iden ts : 6) . I l l u s t r a t i o n . "Right now I'm working on my music. I played piano when I was smaller , and I 've got f a i r l y high up. I d id my grade 8 exam, I ac tua l ly wrote the grade 9 p r a c t i c a l too, i n my second year at co l l ege , and r igh t now 48 I'm doing the theory exams for that . I'm involved i n community th ings , l i k e helping at the l i b r a r y and with outdoor groups and things l i k e that . So I keep f a i r l y busy." Pos i t i ve Effect on Personal Relat ionships This category refers to underemployment having a pos i t i ve effect on the respondents personal l i f e . Range. Members of t h i s category indicated that t h i s pos i t i ve effect was manifested i n two basic forms; having more time to spend with the family or spouse, or fee l ing that the family has r e a l l y gathered around and been drawn c loser by facing th i s c r i s i s . (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 2 or 13%, number of inc iden ts : 4) . I l l u s t r a t i o n . "One of the impacts that i t had on my family , l i k e my wife and c h i l d r e n . . . I think i t ' s been a pos i t i ve impact i n the sense that my underemployment, the type of work I have, has given me more time to b u i l d r e l a t i onsh ips . Family, on both s ides , has been very encouraging. I mean, they know some of my fee l ings , and to them i t doesn't matter what work I do." 49 Being Underemployed: Negative C r i t i c a l Incident Categories D i s i l l u s i o n e d with Present S i tua t ion This category includes a general fee l ing of d i s i l lus ionment or despair r e su l t ing from the pos i t i on of being underemployed. Range. This category was by far the most prevalent . I t included factors such as, d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with the job, f rus t r a t ion with lack of opportunit ies for advancement, f inding the work u n f u l f i l l i n g and being worried about being stuck. (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 14 or 93%, number of incidents 48). I l l u s t r a t i o n . "With no more l i g h t at the end of the tunnel , these things snowballing on top of each other, and they ' re . . . f i r s t of a l l your self-esteem i s so low because you've got a l l these people t e l l i n g you what to do. And you're d i s i l l u s i o n e d because you thought — you had such high expectations, and then a l l of a sudden your expectations are nothing. Your se l f -wor th , your self-esteem i s out the window." Negative Effect on Personal Relat ionships This category, the second most prevalent, refers to underemployment having a negative effect on a personal 50 r e l a t i o n s h i p . Range. Members of t h i s category reported that t he i r underemployment had had serious effect on t he i r re la t ionsh ips with spouses, g i r l friends and immediate fami ly . There were reports of c o n f l i c t and even d ivorce . I t a lso refers to being lonely when one doesn't have the money to go out and be with f r iends . Another aspect to t h i s category i s the fact that some respondents were embarrassed to admit, e spec i a l l y to t he i r f r iends , that they were underemployed. Consequently they avoided ce r t a in f r iends , e spec ia l ly the successful ones, and increased t he i r i s o l a t i o n . Others reported that i t got i n the way of conversations at times, l i k e family gatherings, and that t he i r friends and family were get t ing t i r e d of them t a l k i n g about being underemployed. As re su l t they avoided the t o p i c , withdrew from conversations and again increased t h e i r i s o l a t i o n . (Number of people mentioning t h i s fac tor : 13 or 87%, number of inc idents : 27). I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I think twice about going to a movie and a drink i f I have to put i n two or three hours of drudgery to pay for i t . I usual ly don't go", or "My employment s i t ua t i on was d r i v i n g my wife crazy. She just couldn ' t understand what was happening." 51 Feelings of Insecuri ty and Doubt After every decis ion there comes a time when the correctness of the decis ion i s questioned. For some people t h i s questioning becomes self-doubt and i n s e c u r i t y . Range. Members of t h i s category reported fee l ing l i k e they had made the wrong decisions i n the past. Consequently, they feel that any decisions they make now w i l l a lso probably be wrong. They indicated that i t becomes increas ingly more d i f f i c u l t to contemplate any changes when one i s so insecure and a f ra id of making dec is ions . (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 12 or 80%, number of inc iden t s : 19). I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I went through periods of intense struggle with myself and sa id , we l l you know, i s i t my fau l t that I'm i n a s i t ua t i on l i k e th i s? Have I f a l l e n short? Or i s i t jus t that there i s nothing out there." Or, "I don' t want to go back for more education again only to discover I 've picked the wrong area again." Incidents of Depression In order to qua l i fy for t h i s category the reported incident of depression had to be in t e r f e r ing with the person's d a i l y funct ioning. Range. Members of t h i s category mentioned feel ings such as "everyone i s against me", "everything was going wrong and I just couldn ' t handle i t anymore". I t also includes one incident of a near su i c ide . (Number of people mentioning t h i s fac tor : 10 or 67%, number of inc iden ts : 17) . I l l u s t r a t i o n . "Some days were just miserable. I think i t was i n January or February I s tar ted get t ing depressed. You know, I was ac tua l ly get t ing depressed. I s tar ted no t ic ing that I was short tempered. I was maybe becoming withdrawn a l i t t l e b i t . — That was a low per iod ." Negative About the Future Included i n t h i s category i s a general pessimism about one's personal and career future. Range. Members of t h i s category expressed a general fee l ing that they were stuck, that they were never going to r e a l i z e t he i r dreams. On member was so discouraged about his future prospects, and the impact the underemployment had had on h is personal l i f e , that he contemplated su i c ide . I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I'm becoming more and more a f ra id that I'm stuck. That I'm not going to get what I want out of l i f e " . 53 Resigned to their Fate This category concerns those who have given up. They have a general belief that things will never get any better, that the deck is stacked against them, so why should they keep on trying. Range. Members of this category indicated that they saw no hope that things would ever change and have convinced themselves that this is the best they can hope for. There is a general feeling of lethargy in this group and a certain amount of comfort in having given up. A common statement in this group is , "What the hell! At least I've got a job." Illustration. "I've continued with because I haven't been able to find another job, and the effort I've done—I've done a few things, but not much.—But I really haven't tried—basically, I don't know why.—I suppose I'm getting content with my lot." Problems with Co-workers or Supervisors This category indicates that co-workers and supervisors often were a source of frustration and anger. Range. Members of this category indicated that being more highly educated than one's co-workers and even one's supervisor can lead to many difficult situations. Several members mentioned that their co-workers were suspicious of them and their higher education. Others reported that their co-workers often had a d i f fe ren t mind set , had d i f fe ren t expressions, d i f ferent in teres ts and a d i f ferent outlook on l i f e . A l l of which lead them to being i so l a t ed at the work place. (Number of people mentioning t h i s fac tor : 7 or 47%, number of inc iden t s : 16). I l l u s t r a t i o n . "The fact that when you're working for a job that requires only a ce r t a in l eve l of education you tend to work with a ce r t a in group of people that i n some respects i s quite f ru s t r a t i ng . Co-workers and supervisors ,—I think that when you study , i f you have a col lege or un ive r s i ty degree you've widened your horizons a b i t more,—I guess i t comes to the mentali ty of the people that you work with i s sometimes very f r u s t r a t i n g . " Using Excuses or Ra t iona l i z ing to Explain S i tua t ion This category concerns f inding ways to make being underemployed, and having much more education than the job requires , more pa la table . Range. Members of t h i s category made comments such as, "Well I can always use my education i n a l l aspects of my l i f e " . While true these comments were made i n a tone of voice that indicated that t h i s was a weak attempt to j u s t i f y not using one's education i n one's job and to convince one-s e l f that 4 or more years of l i f e have not been wasted at u n i v e r s i t y . (Number of people mentioning t h i s fac tor : 6 or 55 40%, number of inc iden ts : 9) . I l l u s t r a t i o n . " I 've come to r a t i o n a l i z e , phi losophize , or whatever, that my un ive r s i ty education wasn't a l o s s . I t was useful i n that going to un ive r s i ty c e r t a in ly broadened my h o r i z o n s . . . I suppose much of what I fee l and am saying i n regards to my un ive r s i ty education i s r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n , but I honestly don't fee l that i t was wasted. I t was a good time and an enjoyable time. But as far as ever put t ing the spec i f i c knowledge that I gained i n un ive rs i ty to any d i r ec t use, I ' ve e s s e n t i a l l y said to myself that i f I ever manage to do i t t h a t ' l l be a bonus." Worried about Insuf f i c i en t Income Along with underemployment usual ly comes a very poor income. This category includes concerns about not being able to make enough money to properly take care of oneself or one's fami ly . I t should be noted that the emphasis here i s on s u r v i v a l , ( i . e . food, housing, medical care) not a lack of l uxu r i e s . Range. Members of t h i s category were concerned about having to l i v e i n inappropriate accommodation, not having enough to eat, and having d i f f i c u l t y with t ranspor ta t ion . There was a general concern that having a low income made i t increas ingly d i f f i c u l t to look for other work because of lack of resources and f a i l i n g emotional and physical heal th . One member indicated that he was extremely worried because 56 his wife , a non-Canadian, was pregnant and his medical insurance was not going to cover the costs of the pregnancy and b i r t h . (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 3 or 20%, number of inc iden ts : 4) . I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I would wander down to the beach, I d i d n ' t have enough money to take the bus, they ra ised i t to a d o l l a r , and I d i d n ' t have enough money to get on a bus . . .So things happen when you're underemployed to make things even worse, when you're i n a very vulnerable s i t ua t i on of being f i n a n c i a l l y unstable. I knew I deserved more.. .Your pride gets i n the way. You don't want to l e t people know that you're broke and have co l l ec ted welfare and that sort of th ing . You don' t want anybody to know t h i s s tuf f " Blames the Government or Society This category places the d i r ec t blame for one's s i t ua t i on at the feet of the government or society at la rge . Range. Government p o l i c i e s and the foundering economy bear the major focus of t h i s category. One member mentioned that society teaches us to expect a l o t and then doesn't d e l i v e r , and that i t would be possible to be happily under-employed i f one d i d n ' t have these high expectations. (Number of people mentioning th i s fac tor : 3 or 20%, number of inc iden ts : 4 ) . 57 I l l u s t r a t i o n . "I'm not overly op t imis t i c at a l l though. And tha t ' s because of the general atmosphere i n the province with reference to education. . .Things w i l l continue as they are, as they are doing at t h i s time, — i t ' s not very p o s i t i v e . " Annoyed at a Wasted Education This category includes a fee l ing of anger towards an educational system that does not guarantee one a job upon the completion of s tudies . Range. One respondent stated that he saw the day coming when unemployed un ive r s i ty graduates would sue t he i r f acu l t i e s for not de l ive r ing on promises of employment. Others mentioned that they f e l t regret over past dec i s ion . Perhaps i t was the wrong decis ion to go in to t h i s area, or to go to un ive r s i ty at a l l . Perhaps i t would have been better i f d i f fe ren t decisions had been taken. General ly, there i s a common fee l ing that the years spent at un ive r s i ty were, i f not completely wasted, then ce r t a in ly wasted as far as employment opportunit ies go. (Number of persons mentioning t h i s fac tor : 3 or 20%, number of inc iden ts : 3) . I l l u s t r a t i o n . "It was a b i t of a sore point for me that I ' d gone to un ive r s i ty for four years, i t appeared that e s s e n t i a l l y that education, whatever I ' d learned there was going to turn out to be useless to me. P a r t i c u l a r l y since after I graduated I promptly went out and started d r i v i n g 58 t ruck. Which bel ieve i t or not does not take much mental energy." B . Content_Analysis_of Interviews Pre-Graduation Work Experience There was no spec i f i c question asked during the interview to i l l i c i t a response on t h i s t o p i c . However, 47% of the sample mentioned that they had already f e l t underemployed before they had graduated. Five co-researchers were re fe r r ing to part-t ime work during the school term and/or summer employment. Two others were re fe r r ing to work experience between beginning t he i r education and graduating. A l l f e l t that t h i s work had been beneath them and that they deserved bet ter . The nature of t he i r employment included various forms of labouring, p izza de l ivery and j a n i t o r i a l se rv ices . Comments such as, "It was bor ing" , or "I deserved bet ter" , were common threads throughout these in terv iews. The Univers i ty Experience I t i s somewhat d i f f i c u l t to draw conclusions regarding the Univers i ty experience since 59% of the sample evaluate 59 t h e i r experience as being both pos i t i ve and negative. In t h i s context i t i s important to note that the number of incidents being reported, 19 pos i t i ve to 13 negative, give a more pos i t i ve nature to the evaluation of the university-experience . Approximately 86% of the sample p o s i t i v e l y evaluated some aspects of t he i r un ive r s i ty experience. Comments such as, "I r e a l l y learned a l o t " , "I r e a l l y enjoyed i t " , "I t r e a l l y allowed me to grow a great dea l" , were quite common. A great deal of the pos i t i ve nature of these evaluations had to do with personal growth and the s o c i a l aspects of un ive r s i ty l i f e . A l l of the respondents i n t h i s group mentioned that they had enjoyed the s o c i a l aspect of un ive r s i ty l i f e , with one person even saying that he was quite proud that he had been able to do qui te wel l academically without s a c r i f i c i n g h is p r i o r i t y i n l i f e , which was s o c i a l i z i n g . Approximately 73% of the sample also reported that they d i s l i k e d u n i v e r s i t y . I f we subtract the 14% who d id not report l i k i n g un ive r s i ty that leaves 59% who both p o s i t i v e l y and negatively evaluated t h e i r un ive r s i ty experience. This i s not as strange as i t f i r s t seems. Three of the respondents used the phrase, "It was the best of times and i t was the worst of times", and two described t he i r un ive r s i ty experience as a "love - hate r e l a t i onsh ip" . One respondent s a id , "I love learn ing , but I hate the work", another in tensely d i s l i k e d h is f acu l ty . More commonly the 60 reason for the mixed evaluation was the people had periods of intense doubt during t he i r un ive r s i ty education. For three respondents t h i s meant dropping out and returning after they had sorted out t he i r a c t i v i t i e s . They then report t he i r ear ly experience as negative and the l a t e r as p o s i t i v e . This not ion, that the ear ly years were negative and the l a t t e r pos i t i ve was quite common, with 53% of the sample mentioning t h i s . The most common reason for t h i s being that the ear ly years at un ive r s i ty tend to be quite general and do not allow one to pursue ones in t e re s t s , whereas i t i s possible to spec i a l i ze and more d i r e c t l y pursue personal in teres ts i n the l a t e r years. Job Search Experience There was no spec i f i c question asked to e l i c i t a response i n t h i s topic area. However, the data suggests that the job search area i s one that leaves a great deal to be des i red . Only two respondents reported having to undergo a lengthy period of unemployment. Yet e ight , f u l l y 53% of the sample took the f i r s t job that came along. One respondent reported that he was "desperate" to get a job, when he had not yet found employment two weeks after graduation. Another reported, "It was d r iv ing me r igh t 'round the bend", after looking for work for less than two weeks. 61 This data would seems to indicate that the respondents who had negative experiences with t he i r job searches jumped at the f i r s t job opportunit ies they had, even i f they were inappropriate . Beginnings of Feel ing Underemployed While 47% of the sample reported feel ings of being underemployed before graduation, the res t came to the r e a l i z a t i o n at d i f ferent times. Of the remaining e ight , seven knew that they would be underemployed when they accepted t he i r present jobs. One respondent s a id , "I knew when I accepted the job that I was underemployed," and th i s would be a very common sentiment amongst these seven men. The one remaining respondent was, "shocked to discover I was underemployed". This r e a l i z a t i o n came when a temporary contract ended and he became aware of h is true pos i t i on wi th in the organiza t ion . These resu l t s ind ica te that 93% of the sample r ea l i zed that they were underemployed before graduation or immediately upon gaining employment after graduation. This means that for the most part they have no idea of what i t means to be employed but not underemployed. Consequently they are comparing t he i r present s i tua t ions to an untested idea l which makes the contrast between what i s and what might have been even more intense. 62 I n i t i a l Future Expectations Only one person reported being worried about the future while s t i l l i n school . Seven respondents had a very pos i t i ve a t t i tude about t h e i r personal futures. This i n sp i te of the fact that only four expected to get jobs as a r e su l t of t he i r education. Five of these though did expect that t he i r education would help them i n some way and that eventually they would get what they wanted. Two respondents however, had no expectations or ideas what they wanted out of the future and have not been dissapointed. One respondent s a id , "I d i d n ' t expect to get anything with my education, and I completely met my expectations". Effects of Knowing One i s Underemployed I t i s we l l documented that underemployment can lead to f rus t ra t ion and discontent i n workers (eg. Richards, 1984b). This study ce r t a in ly agrees with these f indings since 93% of the sample report at least one incident of d i s i l lus ionment or discontent . 100% knew, without doubt, that they were underemployed and the knowledge of t h i s fac t , contrary to some e a r l i e r f indings (eg. Swinburne, 1981) which suggested that knowledge of unemployment eased feel ings of shame, anger and depression, d id not help them deal with t he i r s i t u a t i o n . In fact for eight of the co-researchers th i s 63 knowledge led to hopelessness, despair and a res ignat ion to t h e i r fa te . This knowledge and attendant feel ings has had a serious impact on the personal l i v e s of the respondents. 87% report that underemployment has had a negative effect on the i r personal l i v e s . In most cases t h i s c o n f l i c t ar ises because the respondent i s despairing of h is s i t ua t i on and e i ther takes i t out on those c loses t to him or feels g u i l t y and t o t a l l y withdraws from those around him. One co-researcher indicated that h is constant underemployment and i n a b i l i t y to change the s i t ua t i on had cost him his marriage. Another indicated that he was get t ing "real snarly" and, because he did not want to hurt anyone, was avoiding contact with h i s f r iends . S t i l l another explained how he had spent many sleepless nights t r y ing to f igure out what to do and, while he appreciated the support of his wife , i t had been very d i f f i c u l t for her and the ch i ld ren after a l l , " I f I would be i n a s i t ua t i on that i s sa t i s fy ing and would give me the experience I wanted, I ' d probably be a much more pleasant person outside of work. I f experiences at work are bad, i t ' s bound to reach over. I t takes a very d i s c i p l i n e d l i f e , and I'm not that d i s c i p l i n e d that I can t o t a l l y divorce my eight hours at work from the res t of my l i f e . " For three respondents an awareness of the larger employment pic ture did help them cope with t he i r under-employment. After some "soul searching" they decided that i t was not t he i r fau l t and that others, such as the 64 government or the v t imes ' were to blame. However, t h i s a t t i tude d id not r e a l l y improve the i r emotional state over the long run. Overa l l i t seems that the knowledge that one i s under-employed leads to a mind set that precludes changing the s i t u a t i o n . While a l l the respondents ta lked about changing t he i r s i t ua t i on only eight were ac t i ve ly t r y i n g to create change. Of these e ight , only three were t ry ing hard enough for there to be a l i k e l i h o o d that they might succeed. Present Status A l l of the respondents are presently working. One respondent has moved up in to a pos i t i on more i n l i n e with h is educational background. Another has regis tered at a un ive r s i ty for the next session i n order to begin r e t r a i n i n g . A t h i r d plans to t r ave l extensively for approximately s i x months and then w i l l a lso reg i s t e r to begin r e t r a i n i n g . Of the remaining twelve, two more are considering r e t r a in ing and the others are continuing as they were. Future Expectation The data shows that 46% of the sample were pos i t i ve about the future while 60% were negative. The 6% overlap 65 indicates that a few respondents had both pos i t i ve and negative feel ings about the future. They indicated that they were quite pos i t i ve about t he i r personal future, "I bel ieve I ' l l always be able to get along**, but negative about t he i r career future. Those respondents who f e l t pos i t i ve about the future f e l t that sooner or l a t e r things had to turn around. In the words of one respondent, "I f igure i t can only get bet ter . I t sure can ' t get any worse!". The negative view centered around a generally pess imis t ic fee l ing that things were not going to get better e spec ia l ly i n l i g h t of the immediate past. Several co-researchers expressed the sentiment that , "I 'm beginning to feel l i k e things w i l l never change. At f i r s t I thought i t would be temporary, but now . . . ? " . The notion that under-employment w i l l be temporary i s an important one. For several respondents i t was when they began to fee l l i k e i t would not be temporary that they began to despair . Summary of the Experience For many of the respondents the i n i t i a l underemployment experience could be compared to the i n i t i a l holiday period i n unemployment described by Borgen and Amundson (1984). The simple joy of having a job, the novelty of working after so many years i n school was an i n i t i a l high point for many of the respondents. However, t h i s high usual ly did not l a s t long. "Simply the novelty of s t a r t ing a new job makes i t so 66 that you don't experience any sense of being frustrated for the f i r s t 2-3 months. I t ' s a change, you're making money, that sort of t h i n g . " After t h i s b r i e f i n i t i a l period the downward s p i r a l begins. Again t h i s i s comparable to Borgen and Amundson's (1984) f ind ings . However, rather than a r o l l e r coaster or yo-yo effect I prefer to look at t h i s as a descending s p i r a l . As they continue to experience underemployment i t seems that these men just sink deeper and deeper in to despair . Unlike unemployment, where get t ing a job creates an upward emotional s h i f t , these people are already employed and l i t t l e changes for them. The changes that do occur and may give them some hope tend to be minor. For example, one of the co-researches explained that ever since he had begun his job he had regula r ly been promised promotions. In fact he had taken the job because he had been promised that i t was only temporary and that he would soon be moving up. Over the l a s t two years he has been promised four promotions, none of which mate r ia l i zed . He has received glowing performance evaluat ions, but nothing has changed. With each one of these promised promotions and fol lowing disappointments he has become more discouraged, u n t i l he now believes that nothing w i l l ever change for him with t h i s organiza t ion . However, his feel ings of self-worth and s e l f -confidence are so low that he cannot see himself making a change by for example, looking for work elsewhere. Unemployment i s too great a r i s k . 67 This fear of unemployment and a very pess imis t ic view of t he i r chances to get any other job, not necessar i ly even a better job, seems to keep many of these persons i n t he i r present jobs. They prefer the secur i ty of underemployment to r i s k i n g unemployment by looking for other work. Consequently, there i s a gradual erosion of t he i r sense of self-worth u n t i l they reach the point of res ignat ion and "accept" t h e i r s i t u a t i o n . This then i s the bottom of the experience, the point where i t cannot get any worse. For at least one respondent t h i s was the point to consider su i c ide . For three others i t meant a t o t a l res t ruc tur ing of t he i r value system. For another i t meant ser ious ly undertaking a new job search and r i s k i n g underemployment. Not everyone i n t h i s sample has reached the bottom yet . I t seems, however, that reaching the bottom i s necessary before the r i s k s inherent i n change become acceptable. See Figure 1 for a graphic in te rp re ta t ion of the emotional sh i f t data. 68 F i g u r e 1 69 V SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION This study has contributed to an understanding of the experience of underemployment for male col lege graduates. The experience was found to be comprised of four phases: an i n i t i a l down period during job search after graduation; an upward p a r t i a l l y "high" period upon rece iv ing work; a downward s p i r a l as the experience takes hold; and a time when the person e i ther decides to make things change or decides to give up and accept the s i t u a t i o n . This chapter w i l l examine: 1.) l i m i t a t i o n s of the study, 2.) the study's theore t i ca l imp l i ca t ions , 3.) impl ica t ions for further research, and 4.) impl ica t ions for counse l l ing , Limi ta t ions of the Study The r esu l t s of t h i s study are based on a male, col lege educated, B r i t i s h Columbia sample. A mixed sex sample may have y ie lded d i f fe ren t resu l t s given that women have had to deal with underemployment for a longer period of time (O'Toole, 1977), and may have even stronger and more entrenched feel ings regarding underemployment. A sample drawn from a d i f fe ren t province may also have y ie lded d i f fe ren t resu l t s given the high unemployment and general ly negative employment p ic ture i n B r i t i s h Columbia. Other provinces may offer the prospect of eventual r e l i e f 70 from underemployment, but there seems to be l i t t l e reason the bel ieve that things w i l l change for the better i n B r i t i s h Columbia i n the near future. This may have lead to the par t i c ipan ts i n t h i s study despairing more qu ick ly than they might have i n a d i f ferent province. The par t i c ipan ts also held d i f fe ren t l eve l s of degrees ranging from Bachelor of Arts to Doctorates. The holders of the higher degrees tended to be more frustrated than those with lower degrees. There was also a var ie ty of f i e l d s represented. A study l i m i t i n g the sample to one type of degree i n one pa r t i cu l a r f i e l d may have given d i f ferent resu l t s due to varying expectation of employment after graduation i n the d i f ferent f i e l d s . In respect to methodological l i m i t a t i o n s , the sample s ize was small though t h i s was compensated for by conducting in-depth in terviews. A l s o , the establishment of the c r i t i c a l incident categories i s dependent on the one who acts as sor te r . Another factor i s that the l i t e r a t u r e i s pre-dominately American and r e f l ec t s the American experience. While the Canadian experience i s s imi l a r there may be differences that are not immediately apparent. Theoret ical Implications Rumberger (1984) suggested that as many as 25 to 50 percent of recent col lege graduates e i ther are, or fee l they 71 are, underemployed. E a r l i e r studies such as Freeman (1976) and the Carnagie Commission (1973) also found that a large number of col lege graduates found themselves i n jobs which d i d n ' t make f u l l use of t he i r education. The sample of t h i s study c e r t a i n l y f i t in to the moulds of these other s tudies . A l l par t ic ipants were i n fact underemployed (see Table T. ) and c e r t a i n l y f e l t that they were underemployed. With the exception of one par t i c ipan t a l l were i n jobs that required a grade 12 education or l e s s . In the case of three pa r t i c ipan t s , t h e i r jobs ac tua l ly required no formal education beyond simple reading and w r i t i n g s k i l l s . I t would be natural to assume that the members of t h i s sample would be upset about wasting the i r time at u n i v e r s i t y . This proved to be true for only 3 pa r t i c ipan t s . The remaining 12 a l l f e l t that t h e i r education had been worthwhile and that they could f ind some appl ica t ions for t he i r t r a i n i n g . Richards (1984), Bur r i s (1980) and S u l l i v a n (1978) found that younger workers tended to be more often over-educated than older workers. In the l i t e r a t u r e review two possible explanations were given. One explanation was that younger workers simply are better educated than the i r elders and the second was that younger workers tend to be i n v ent ry l e v e l ' jobs. While the f i r s t was supported by t h i s study, the second reason was not. Several of the par t ic ipants were i n f i e l d s that t r a d i t i o n a l l y would have offered them v ent ry l e v e l ' pos i t i ons . Now, however, due p r imar i l y to a poorly functioning economy, these pos i t ions are no longer 72 a v a i l a b l e . An example of t h i s i s par t ic ipan t number 15. He received h is Bachelor of Commerce i n a spec ia l i zed f i e l d i n which, just a few years ago, there was a demand for personnel. By the time he graduated the economy had taken a severe downturn and those jobs were no longer a v a i l a b l e . In fac t , many of the persons who had held these pos i t ions were now unemployed. He had done wel l at school , had accumulated appropriate experience during his education and was wel l able to present himself . For a l l intents and purposes he was the idea l candidate for a business such as a bank to take in to t h e i r v ent ry l e v e l ' programme. However, he found that he was competing with people with more education and experience than he possessed who were w i l l i n g to work for as l i t t l e money as he was. After a lengthy job search he landed a job as a bank messenger. This i s not an entry l e v e l p o s i t i o n , i t goes no where. He had the misfortune of graduating at a time when the job market i s saturated with job seekers and jobs are few. In the words of another pa r t i c ipan t : "Who's going to h i re me when there 's tons of guys with masters degrees and loads of experience l i n i n g up for the same job?!" . I t would appear that many of the t r a d i t i o n a l ways that col lege graduates entered the work-place have disappeared and that many are f inding themselves i n dead end pos i t i ons . Given Richards ' (1984) f inding that inappropriate beginning jobs can have a negative impact on a persons long-term 73 vocat ional outcome we can assume that many of these par t i c ipan ts w i l l remain i n dead end jobs and be, at best, resigned to t he i r underemployment. Richards (1984b) found that underemployment among highly educated workers was a source of f rus t ra t ion and discontent . She also suggests that high income only adds to job s a t i s f ac t i on i f job f i t i s a lso h igh. The resu l t s of t h i s study would seem to va l ida te Richards ' f i nd ing . Two of the par t i c ipan ts who had substant ia l incomes were s t i l l d i s s a t i s f i e d with t he i r jobs. Money did not erase t he i r f rus t ra t ion with being underemployed, though i t d id make i t easier to endure. Where these findings deviate from Richards i s that neither of these par t i c ipan ts would consider g iv ing up t he i r we l l paying jobs to take on lower paying jobs more i n l i n e with t he i r education. I t would seem therefore, that money can be enough of a factor to make the f rus t ra t ions of underemployment preferable to having a low income and being properly employed. Burr i s (1983b) indicates that higher education leads to increased job d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n , higher turn over ra tes , reduced job involvement, impaired co-worker r e l a t i o n s , and more emphasis on future asp i ra t ions . A l l of these factors are v e r i f i e d by t h i s study. 14 par t ic ipants reported that they were d i s i l l u s i o n e d with t he i r s i t u a t i o n . 10 reported incidents of depression severe enough to in te r fe re with the day to day order of t he i r l i v e s . Several of the par t ic ipants have held numerous jobs, with only one having only one job 74 since graduation. One par t i c ipan t has held 50 jobs since graduation from high school , four of those since rece iv ing his un ive r s i ty degree. T y p i c a l l y the par t ic ipants have had 2-3 jobs since t h e i r un ive r s i ty graduation. Comments such as "I can ' t stand my job!" and " I f I don' t get another job soon I "m gonna go nuts!" were common throughout the in terviews. Only one par t i c ipan t stated that he was r e l a t i v e l y content i n h is job and even he f u l f i l l e d the requirements of his job with a ce r ta in reluctance. 7 par t ic ipants reported problems with co-workers. These problems usual ly centered around differences enhanced by higher education. For example one pa r t i c ipan t indica ted that he couldn ' t stand the language and the crude humour of h is co-workers. Another ta lked about how glad he was when someone with a background s imi l a r to his began work, providing a companion with with whom he could have an i n t e l l i g e n t conversation. 7 also indicated that they f e l t pos i t i ve about the future. They f e l t that eventually things would come the i r way and several even indicated that they would consider more education as a way of improving the i r s i t u a t i o n . In 1976, Freeman documented the changing labour market for col lege graduates. He indicated that there were a growing number of col lege graduates i n low- leve l jobs and that there was no guarantee of a return on a col lege degree. Ten years l a t e r i t seems that nothing has changed except the need to document how much worse i t has gotten. 75 Implicat ions for Further Research This was a prel iminary study and i t s resu l t s indica te that more research in to the experience of underemployment i s warranted. Further studies using larger samples and q u a l i t a t i v e measures could be undertaken to further examine t h i s phenomenon. A l s o , since i t i s not a phenomenon l im i t ed to male col lege graduates a broader study encompassing both sexes and unl imited regarding education would add great ly to our understanding of the experience. More spec i f i c studies would also be des i rab le . Areas such as the impact of underemployment on self-concept , and i t s impact on family and interpersonal re la t ionsh ips need to be examined more c l o s e l y . Sarason et a l . (1975) w r i t i n g 11 years ago sa id : Beginning a l i f e t i m e i n a f i e l d which i s ac tua l ly a second, t h i r d , or even lower choice, as many people do, i s t r ag ic because i t impinges d r a s t i c a l l y on one's sense of se l f -wor th . People who cannot pursue t he i r v pr imary ' interest—an increasing number—are l i k e l y to be very frustrated and unhappy (p. 589). Proving t h i s to be true could be the aim of some l o n g i -tud ina l studies that examine the extent of t h i s f rus t ra t ion and unhappiness and t e l l us more about the long term impact of underemployment. 76 Implicat ions for Counsell ing A l l of the par t ic ipants of t h i s study had, at some point i n t he i r experience, sought help i n dealing with t he i r s i t u a t i o n . Some sought professional help, others sought the help of respected peers or family members. C lea r ly there i s a need to help those people who are having d i f f i c u l t y deal ing with t he i r underemployment transcend t h e i r experience. In t r y i n g to f u l f i l l t h i s task, the resu l t s of t h i s study can help the counsellor help h is c l i e n t . Examining the four segments of the experience and the c r i t i c a l inc ident categories would ce r t a in ly help a counsellor under-stand the s i t ua t i on of the c l i e n t . Counsellors w i l l most l i k e l y see c l i e n t s during stages two and three. A c l i e n t i n the s p i r a l stage may come to a session completely down one week and up the next. Being aware of the s p i r a l effect could help the counsellor to plan appropriate intervent ions that could help h is c l i e n t to break out of t h i s s p i r a l . Careful observation of the c l i e n t , such as the degree of d i s i l lu s ionment , could help the counsellor to r e a l i z e when the c l i e n t has bottomed out. At t h i s point a c l i e n t who was previously re luctant to implement suggestions may now be open to suggestions, and the s k i l l e d counsellor may be able to f a c i l i t a t e a new determination on the part of the c l i e n t to create change. The observant counsellor w i l l also be able to determine when the c l i e n t i s going to give i n to 77 despair and res ignat ion and undertake interventions to prevent t h i s or to help the c l i e n t work his way out once i t has happened. Quite simply, a knowledge of what can be expected i n t h i s type of experience i s a valuable t oo l when employed by a s k i l l e d counsel lor . Given that 13 par t ic ipants indicated that t he i r underemployment had had a negative effect on personal r e l a t i onsh ips , family or couple counsel l ing may need to occur along with career counse l l ing . Even though there was not a spec i f i c question asked dealing with self-concept i t i s qui te c lear from the data that s e l f -concept/self-worth i s negatively effected by underemploy-ment. 14 par t ic ipants reported being d i s i l l u s i o n e d with t he i r present s i t u a t i o n . The one abstention came from the person i n a job most c lose ly aligned with what he had t ra ined fo r . 10 reported incidents of depression. 9 were negative about the future. 8 were resigned to t h e i r fa te . 5 par t i c ipan ts reported that they had gone through periods of self-examinat ion, wondering what they had done to deserve t h i s kind of exis tence. With these kind of experiences and feel ings the counsellor should approach the c l i e n t with the in ten t ion of helping the c l i e n t to b u i l d a better s e l f -concept and to motivate them to desire to create change i n t he i r l i v e s . Counsel l ing, i n t h i s case, should be seen as an exercise i n bu i ld ing self-esteem and motivat ion. F i n a l l y , I bel ieve that there i s a strong ind i ca t i on that more work needs to be done with students before they 78 graduate. They need to be better prepared for entering the job search time i n the i r l i v e s . I t i s no longer good enough to say that you get a job after graduation. They should be t o l d that they might not get a job r i gh t away, that i t takes s k i l l s to look for a job, and that the process takes time. While conducting the interviews I was often amazed to discover how quick ly some of these persons had given up looking for the kind of jobs they wanted. One pa r t i c ipan t was desperate after 2 weeks and took the f i r s t job offered him. Students need to be prepared with better job search s k i l l s and they need to have the i r expectations modified i n terms of what they can r e a l i s t i c a l l y expect after graduation. 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Just l i k e any story there 's always a beginning, middle and end. Could you begin before you f e l t underemployed, and continue to describe your experience i n terms of thoughts, f ee l ings , actions and what you've done to change the s i t u a t i o n . 3. Could you describe what you consider to be your lowest points i n being underemployed? For example, s t a r t i ng with the f i r s t low point you can remember, what happened exact ly and why was i t d i f f i c u l t for you? 4. Now turning to the high points during t h i s experience, s ta r t with the f i r s t high point you can remember, and why i t was helpful to you. 5. What was un ive r s i ty l i k e for you? 6. Were you th inking of get t ing a spec i f i c kind of job after graduation? 86 What are your expectations about the future r igh t now? What impact, i f any, has your underemployment had on your r e l a t ionsh ip with your family or s i g n i f i c a n t others? How o ld are you? What i s your present mar i ta l status? What i s your present occupation? 87 Appendix B Subject Consent Form 88 Appendix C Modified Interview Questions 90 M o d i f i e d I n t e r v i e w Q u e s t i o n s 1. I ' d l i k e you t o t e l l y o u r own s t o r y o f y o u r e x p e r i e n c e w i t h b e i n g u n d e r e m p l o y e d . J u s t l i k e any s t o r y t h e r e ' s a l w a y s a b e g i n n i n g , m i d d l e and e n d . C o u l d you b e g i n b e f o r e you f e l t u n d e r e m p l o y e d , and c o n t i n u e t o d e s c r i b e y o u r e x p e r i e n c e i n t e rms o f t h o u g h t s , f e e l i n g s , a c t i o n s and what y o u ' v e done t o change t h e s i t u a t i o n . 2. C o u l d you p l e a s e t e l l me when i t was t h a t you f i r s t became aware t h a t you were underemployed? 3. C o u l d you d e s c r i b e what you c o n s i d e r t o be y o u r l o w e s t p o i n t s i n b e i n g underemployed? F o r e x a m p l e , s t a r t i n g w i t h t h e f i r s t low p o i n t you can remember, what happened e x a c t l y and why was i t d i f f i c u l t f o r you? 4. Now t u r n i n g t o t h e h i g h p o i n t s d u r i n g t h i s e x p e r i e n c e , s t a r t w i t h t h e f i r s t h i g h p o i n t you can remember, and why i t was h e l p f u l t o y o u . 5. What was u n i v e r s i t y l i k e f o r you? 6. Were y o u t h i n k i n g o f g e t t i n g a s p e c i f i c k i n d o f j o b a f t e r g r a d u a t i o n ? 7 . What a r e y o u r e x p e c t a t i o n s abou t t h e f u t u r e r i g h t now? F o r e x a m p l e , a r e y o u r g e n e r a l l y o p t i m i s t i c o r p e s s i m i s t i c about t h e f u t u r e ? 91 8. What impact, i f any, has your underemployment had on your r e l a t ionsh ip with your family or s i g n i f i c a n t others? 9. How old are you? 10. What i s your present mar i ta l status? 11. What i s your present occupation? 92 Appendix D Contact Let ter 93 Appendix E Rating Sheets 95 Appendix E - l Blank Rating Sheet Form 96 NUMBER EMOTIONAL EVENTS OR BEHAVIORS COPING FUTURE CHANGE SHIFTS ACCOMPANYING SPECIFIC STRATEGIES EXPECTATIONS STRATEGIES EMOTIONS — J I 97 A p p e n d i x E-2 C o m p l e t e d R a t i n g S h e e t Example 98 NUMBER 9 1 EMOTIONAL SHIFTS EVENTS OR BEHAVIORS ACCOMPANYING SPECIFIC EMOTIONS COPING STRATEGIES FUTURE EXPECTATIONS CHANGE STRATEGIES "Confident" in his a b i l i t i e s . Eventhough he had taken a job beneatht&is s k i l l level and formal training he was sure that he could handel being underemployed. He was sure that this job would be temporary. Planned to save money so that he could travel and return to school. "Excited" in finding a job. In i t ia l ly getting the job was novel and exciting. He was thr i l led just to be working. ^Frustrated" in the job. The i n i t i a l excitement wore off quickly once he discovered what the job was really like and that he was going nowhere with i t . Just hang in there. "Bored" with the job. He was not interested in the work and quick-ly got extremely bored with i t . Frustrated"; The work was so physically demanding that he had no energy left at the end of the day for social act iv i t ies . he hoped that he would .get used to the work and adjust. "Miserable" when he made mistakes. If he made a mistake and his boss got mad at him i t just made things that much worse. "Depressed", everything was getting to him. He recounts that the months with the bad weather were the hardest to take. The end-less rain took away the one redeeming featur of his job, being able to work outside." -e Hang on until the weather gets nicer. : 99 NUMBER 9 2 EMOTIONAL SHIFTS j EVENTS OR BEHAVIORS ACCOMPANYING SPECIFIC EMOTIONS COPING STRATEGIES FUTURE EXPECTATIONS CHANGE STRATEGIES "Exasperation" He was so fed up with his job he felt that he would go insane i f he didn't quit. Just to hang on and hope that things will get better. "Denial" of what he was doing. He related that he didn't want to admit to himself that he was underemployed and that this denial made itr.easier to cope. "Philosophical" re. his situation. He's saying that because i t ' s to be temp-orary he.can handle i t . In order to make this more palatable he rationalizes what he is doing, sort of making excuses for himself Keep telling-yourself i : that it is just temporary Expect to go travelling . or back to school. Eventually get more tra in-ing so that you can get a better job. He is feeling "incompotent" in his job. Because he finds the job boring, his mind often wanders causing him to make mistakes. o.~-o *-• Feeling "low". Since,his job leaves him physically ex-hausted curtail ing his social l i f e , this causes a lot of low feelings, especially in the winter months. He feels like "vegging out". Because his job drains so much of his energy when he does have time in the evening he just feels like plopping down in front of the TV and vegging out. Getting really "snarly' His frustration was getting to the point to-where he was taking i t out on others. 100 NUMBER 9 3 EMOTIONAL SHIFTS EVENTS OR BEHAVIORS ACCOMPANYING SPECIFIC EMOTIONS COPING STRATEGIES FUTURE EXPECTATIONS CHANGE STRATEGIES "Resi gnation". At one point he contemplated giving in and going into construction as a career. The pressure from his boss and co-workers was getti'ng to him. He sought out advise from otha-s in the industry, especially ones who weren gung ho about i t . t By carefully lookong at the people in the industry he decided that this is not what he wanted. VHappy" or at least somewhat more content. He has learned enough about the job so that he can s t i l l do the job and let his mind wander. This makes the whole experience more bearable... Do your job, but let your mind wander. "Frustrated" He l ikeicreative thinking and there is no room for creativity in his job. Everything is concrete. There is no room for abstract thought. Escape into your mind. TOT "Happy" at university. "Those years have been the highlight of my l i f e so far". Excited" about learn-ing new things. The best part of university for him was bein exposed to new ideas, learning new things and meeting new people. g Get back to university. "Resignation". He didn't expect to get a job with his BA. "I didn't expect to get anything, and I didn't . Totally met my expectations." Feels good" about l i f e in general. He feels relatively optimistic about l i fe and s t i l l feels that he wil l be able to do the things he wants to do. Tell yourself that you s t i l l have some time left to experiment. To get another job. 101 NUMBER EMOTIONAL SHIFTS EVENTS OR BEHAVIORS ACCOMPANYING SPECIFIC EMOTIONS COPING STRATEGIES FUTURE EXPECTATIONS CHANGE STRATEGIES "Feels positive" about the job. Along with a l l the negatives, he feels good that he is learning a trade that he can use at any time. May have to use these sk i l l s again i f the economy doesn't improve and he can't get another job. "Hopeful". He is s t i l l hopefull that he will be able to get a job as a teacher sometime in the future. Keep hoping and be patient. Expects to be a teacher. Get the necessary training in order to do something else like teach. "Worried" about his future. He is worried that things may work together in such a way that his plans may not work out. CM "Unhappy" with his lif< outside of work. He feels that his social l i f e is suffereing because of what he does. Also, because of lack of money he is forced to live at home which is an unhealthy situation. Get out of the house more and spend more time with friends. O i-H 102 Appendix F Protocol Example 103 Example Interview QUESTION 1 Well I would say r igh t at the beginning of my job. I t was a c t u a l l y , I think I s tar ted my job with the under-standing that I would be underemployed. Because I had already done i t before, I knew what i t would be, but I hadn't done i t for any long period of time, but I f igured that I could handle i t for a time period anyway. So, yeah I guess r i gh t at the s t a r t . Me: So i t was l i k e you graduated and then you started t h i s job. and t h e n . . . Him: Yeah, we l l I graduated form un ive rs i ty and then I went to Quebec for a year, and then I uh came back and wasn't exact ly sure what, I mean with a BA your sort of l i m i t e d , you know, a B TH. I sort of have any way and could have i f I wanted i t ' s just a matter of processing. I haven't done that ye t , and urn there ' jus t not to many a l te rna t ives as jobs go, so I think my immediate problem was just get t ing money together. I was f l a t broke when I came back from Quebec, d i d n ' t even have enough money to take the bus from the t r a i n depot so uh, I knew I could get a job doing t h i s so I d id and then uh things just stretched out I guess . . . . I wasn't sure how long I was going to stay at i t and then I j u s t . . . . because I wasn't sure what I was going to do, I was s t i l l th inking about going back to school S o . . . . 104 Question 2 "Story" OK, um, I don' t know i f I can s ta r t with a before exac t ly , I suppose i n a sense you could 'cause the uh simply the novelty of s t a r t i ng a new job makes i t uh, you know you don't experience any sense of being frustrated or whatever at the job the f i r s t , oh I d o n ' t ' know maybe 2-3 months because i t s new, i t ' s a change, your making money, that sort of th ing , you know, I d o n ' t . . . at that point i n the summer, I s tar ted my job i n J u l y , I think I d i d n ' t r e a l l y mind i t , you know the guys I work with are pret ty good, they ' re nice guys, but uh , le t s see, the middle, I suppose for the most time, some time i n the winter there, I uh, things were slowing down a l i t t l e b i t . . . and u h . . . . you just sor t of , I guess I sort of s tar ted fee l ing just mostly frustrated because i t s uh, i t ' s uh . . . . no t going anywhere I suppose just sort of put t ing time, you know what I mean? just sort of uh. . .even though I r ea l i zed i t wasn't going to be forever, wel l at times I thought we l l maybe I ' l l have to end up doing t h i s anyway...but um yeah sometimes I don't know I just r e a l l y s t a r t get t ing frustrated 'cause the job was so boring eh, I could never l i k e going to work, 'cause framing i s uh phys i ca l l y i t ' s pret ty demanding I was always t i r e d i n the evening and I never f e l t l i k e going out . . . and doing anything so b a s i c a l l y I wasn't doing anything just u h . . . j u s t sort of working and sleeping and working and sleeping and . . . . I suppose tha t ' s the worst part of i t and 105 u h . . . . u h . . l e t s see, but i t goes i n cycles i t swings i t always d id the whole time, you know, l i k e some days would be a l l r i gh t you k n o w , . . . . l i k e some days would be good when things went w e l l , you know I had a good time, laughed a l o t s tuf f l i k e that , but other days, maybe I screwed up doing something and Harold got mad or um anything happened, I don' t know, some days were just miserab le . . . . and then for awhile I suppose, now i t ' s not so bad, but for awhile there, I think i t was i n January or February I s tar ted r e a l l y get t ing uh. . . .uh . .depressed. YOu know I was ac tua l ly ge t t ing , for about a month there, I s tarted no t ic ing that I was short tempered, you know you know I was maybe becoming more withdrawn a l i t t l e b i t . . . . t h a t was a low per iod , but I decided at that point I s tar ted r e a l i z i n g that wel l you've got ta , gotta over come that so tha t ' s what I d i d , I s tar ted r e a l i z i n g i t ' s just r i d i cu lous you know, I almost q u i t , a c tua l ly i n February, I jus t sa id : To h e l l with i t ! eh at one poin t . I f igured I gotta leave just to keep my sani ty , you know, but um...yeah then the weather s tar ted get t ing bet ter , James came to work now, so i t ' s a l i t t l e more diverse you know I suppose the bottom l i n e i s that I jus t don' t f ind i t i n t e res t ing you know, you go for coffee and Harold, we l l they ' re both nice guys but, you know I don't f ind any s a t i s f ac t i on out of bu i ld ing something. Even when I was young I was never the k i d who b u i l t for ts or u h . . . . o r monkeyed around on a b i cyc l e or anything. I never d id anything l i k e that . I jus t don' t 106 f ind any sort of l i k e physica l th ings , you know, don't in te res t me, period But u h . . . I don' t know. . . . Me: Can you say some more about thoughts or more pa r t i cu l a r feel ings that you have about being underemployed or under-u t i l i z e d . Him: W e l l , uh, OK, uh, . . . . I suppose e s s e n t i a l l y I don't l i k e to admit i t . YOu don't l i k e to face up to the fac t . I t ' s much easier to uh, when I look at what I l i k e to be doing, and I'm not even quite sure what that might be, but I ' d c e r t a i n l y l i k e to t r y something e l se , b u t . . . . I f ind i t easier to u h . . . . n o t to admit the r e a l i t y of i t , to just sort of u h . . . . y o u know you just put i n your 8 hours and then I just t r y to forget that I . . . . l e t s see uh I don' t know, r igh t now I just sort of accept i t eh. I just say wel l l i s t e n i t ' s d u l l and boring and . . . I ' m not making much money . . . bu t u h . . . i t ' s not for ever, so . , because you cant l e t i t , t ha t ' s what was happening when I was get t ing r e a l l y down, I was s t a r t ing to sort of think to much about how bad i t was, you know, instead of just cast ing i t aside, and i t ' s not that bad a l l the time, l i k e I say i t comes and i t goes. Some days i t ' s , l i k e r igh t now I fee l OK about i t , I d o n ' t . . . . Me: Is i t sor t of when you can keep i t i n perspective, that i t ' s easier? 107 Him: Yeah, perspective in the sense that you know it 's not lasting. I think, i f I was in a position where I figured I might have do do this, you know, like as a career then I would ...then i t would be quite a bit different I think. UH....you see I can cope with i t for a year. A year is not that long, but for an indefinite period of time, I don't know Me: So you're viewing i t as something temporary. Him: Yeah. WEll I guess I could. You know, well...After a year I'm not that inept at i t . I mean i could probably go on my own, but I just don't want to Me: Do you feel like you've done anything to change the situation? Him: In what sense? Me: In the sense of putting i t in perspective, treating i t temporarily, do you have anything in motion to change i t , to get out of i t or to do some other kind of things? Him: OK, well . . .I mean I'm basically, right now I'm saving up money and I'm gonna go travelling in the fa l l and then I'm gonna go back to school I think next year, probably in September. I ' l l go back and try to go, i t 's either teaching, get my education degree, or else English as a second language degree, so one of those two, but I don't even know where, where I ' l l go to school....S0000.... I don't 108 know, i s that sort of what you mean, I mean I haven't r e a l l y applied anywhere or anything l i k e that Me: I don' t have anything I mean, I just want to see what you might have done i n the l a s t year or so to change Him: Well I 've applied at a few places but I don' t know i f we l l I 've been going to school for a long time and i t ' s sort of so I was f igu r ing I would l i k e to go t r a v e l l i n g yet . Sow the l a s t few w i l d oats I 've got l e f t before I u h . . , s e t t l e down ( laughter) . Question 3 (lows) OK, we l l I'm not sure I can iden t i fy any one instance, j u s t . . . . I mean i t ' s generally the same, I mean l e t s see uh yeah i t usua l ly has something to do because i t you know I ' d say I went through jus t b a s i c a l l y one low per iod . The res t of the time was just sort of good days and bad days, but nothing you know, i t wasn't very long duration or anything l i k e that . Um i t usual ly has to do with fee l ing incompetent i n what I'm doing, you know, 'cause I don' t l i k e i t I don' t learn i t very fas t , you know, and I don' t or I may not remember something and my mind i s , you know, my mind tends to d r i f t a l o t . Which means that you make mistakes, which means that somebody gets mad at you, you know, which means that you fee l lousy. And so, I suppose that you know, and then when you're fee l ing 109 l i k e that you're wondering why even, why you don' t qu i t and t ry something e l se , you know, or something l i k e that . I suppose that i t ' s usual ly ah or when i t ' s r a in ing out for weeks on end or i t ' s c o l d , . . . . y o u know, 'cause then at that point your whole l i f e revolves around your work b a s i c a l l y , 'cause phys i ca l l y i t ' s enough that i t ' s not that easy to get up and do s tuff i n the evening. So um, you know, i n the winter time i t ' s dark at night and you can ' t do that much i n the evenings and b a s i c a l l y your l i f e revolves around working and i f and you don't f ind i t s t imulat ing at a l l , thats when i t becomes i t sort of prompts a l o t of low fee l ings . Me: Like what your saying i s that when you can ' t use something external to , uh, get some excitement or do something d i f fe ren t tha t ' s when i t becomes the most d i f f i c u l t to take. Him: Yeah, yeah, thats i t ! Yeah, as long as I can sort of do something e l s e , you know, l i k e I read a l o t I think tha t ' s probably one of the great th ings , but you know, usual ly I just go and escape in to a book i n the evening or something l i k e that , but for awhile there I was even get t ing to t i r e d to read anything, I jus t d idn ' t fee l l i k e i t . I jus t plopped mys'elf down i n front of the TV and just veg out t i l l 9-10 and then go to s leep. But yeah, thats exact ly i t , i t was l i k e now with Expo or whatever, now that i t ' s l i gh t e r I'm playing baseba l l . I f igured you gotta get out and do 110 something anyway. Me: You mentioned before, I think i t was that February was a low poin t . Was i t February? Him: Yeah, I think so. I'm not sure, but January or February i n there. Me: Can you say a b i t more about that? Him: OK, l i k e um yeah I don't know exac t ly . I guess because i t was already, you know, the novelty of working, the money, you know, having that around, was, was wearing very t h i n . There's a, there 's other complications to i t . I think somebody, uh, there ' s problems with l i v i n g at home s t i l l , you know, which i s a mistake you know...So there 's usual ly other things involved besides work, I think at that point But um...yeah I started ge t t ing , ah, I jus t noticed i t that somewhere i n there I was get t ing r e a l l y depressed about the whole th ing , you know...and I just noticed a, l i k e I was s t a r t ing to snap back. I'm a pret ty easy going guy. I don' t usual ly get up t i g h t about s tu f f . But I s tar ted no t i c ing that I was get t ing r e a l l y snarly a l l the time, you know, I just never f e l t l i k e doing anything or being with anybody o r . . . . s o I f igured ah i t ' s crazy, e i ther I qu i t or something i f i t was the job, but i t wasn't t o t a l l y the job, you know I mean, there were other things involved . I mean i t had a l o t to do with i t I suppose...Yeah but 111 um Lets see i f i t was work exact ly (thoughtful) I don' t know, maybe my Bio-rythmns were down or something (laughter) February has always been the worst month, at school or anywhere. The winter , you know, sort of gets long at that po in t , i t doesn't seem l i k e i t ' s going to end. Me: I may be t o t a l l y wrong on t h i s , but i t seems to me I heard something else before and that i s that perhaps around that time you began to fee l l i k e th i s might not be temporary. Like you were s t a r t ing to think that I might end up doing th i s for the res t of my l i f e . Him: Yeah, I know (heavy sigh) Yeah, because l i k e I say, I haven't r e a l l y uh, I don' t have any de f in i t e plans f o r . . . . y o u know, for changing i t exac t ly . Yeah, at one point I contemplated, you know, I thought you know, l i s t e n i t ' s a trade, and I mean other people do i t and ah, you know, you can learn to adjust, you know, you just do i t . But then, I remember t a l k i n g to about t h i s and he, we l l t a l k i n g to my boss, he's r e a l l y gung ho construct ion guy. He l i k e s that sort of, he's using i t as a stepping stone to go in to b u i l d i n g , you know and too, they both t r i e d to convince me to go in to i t , 'cause for them they i enjoy i t , i t ' s t he i r l i f e . But ah, but s o . . . . s o you get, not pressured I would never c a l l i t that , but encouragement from the guys at work, you know, who are my f r iends , to continue at i t , so I yeah, I contemplated i t . But then I don' t know i f se r ious ly though On a good day I might have, but you know, just looking around at people who are i n i t , r e a l l y sort of l i k e , you know very i t b a s i c a l l y and he doesn't l i k e i t , you know. But you can see yourself i f you just look at some of these people and you wonder w e l l , you know, what i s i t you want out of l i f e , and I don' t think banging n a i l s i s what I want to do. Me: I t sounds l i k e when you run up in to that r e a l i z a t i o n every once i n awhile, tha t ' s when i t gets toughest. Him: Yeah (heavy). Well you just d o n ' t . . . y o u see the good thing i s now i t ' s I'm s t a r t ing to learn i t enough that I can l e t my mind wander and s t i l l do my job pret ty w e l l . So tha t ' s something, as long I c an . . . . you know just sort of d r i f t a b i t . B u t . . . f o r a while there I had to concentrate. Not enough to , to make i t i n t e r e s t i ng , but enough to make sure you d i d n ' t cut off your f inger or something l i k e that , or know what the measurements are supposed to be. Thats a lways. . .you know, just a l i t t l e b i t . . . t h a t s one thing that always bothers me too, i s . . . y o u know, i n col lege most every-thing i s , at l eas t , you have enough freedom to pursue what you want, you know, then you can concentrate and then you can l e t i t f l y , you know, and whatever you f e e l , you know, s o . . . . and u h . . . . and here i t ' s just the opposite. YOu s t i l l concentrate to a l e v e l , but i t ' s so, uh how do you t y p i c a l example i s who's uh, you know uh, stuck i n 113 say, i t s so u h . . . . I don t know i t , maybe i t s because i t s so concrete. That sort of s tuff never r e a l l y interested me. You know l i k e , remembering how to b u i l d something, o r . . . . Me: Not to much abstract thought going on. Him: Nothing, nothing at a l l . There's no c r e a t i v i t y , there ' s n o . . . us ing, l i k e ideas i s what I'm i n to eh, l i k e I don' t know exact ly . . . . but I l i k e sort of crea t ive th inking and that sort of thing and then i n construct ion there i s absolutely no room for that whatsoever, you know, unless your and a r ch i t e c t , but not i n t h i s f i e l d . Me: Ok. Question (highs) Him: Ok, u h . . . l e t s see, high p o i n t s . . . . I don's know i f there have been I don' t know i f I can name any (laughter) Me: Just to jog your memory, you mentioned one before. And that was the people you work wi th . Him: Yeah, yeah tha t ' s t rue, (hesi tant ly) They're, yeah. I don' t know i f I ' d say that tha t ' s r e a l l y . . . . high points exac t ly , because t he i r my friends yeah, but we don't have necessar i ly a l o t i n common, you know, . . . . so there 's been pos i t i ve l i k e horsing around and s tuff l i k e that , I suppose u h . . . . when the weathers n i ce , being up with your s h i r t off get t ing a tan . . . joking a round . . . . yeah, there have been good days a l l r i gh t but thats s t i l l I don' t know.. . I sort of separate that from the work, because r e a l l y the uh, you r e a l l y only have good times when you're doing something that i s away from the work, i n a sense when you're joking around you're ac tua l ly n o t . . . your doing some-th ing , you know, maybe your working s t i l l yet , but your not t a l k i n g about work and your not, you're just sor t of mechanically your doing i t but, but the high points are always something extraneous, I guess. Me: The high points are always something outside of what you are doing. Him: Yeah! 'Cause I don' t get any sa t i s f ac t i on out of b u i l d i n g , per iod . I mean I don ' t , i t ' s not t h a t . . . . Me: Let me check t h i s out with you. I t sounds l i k e when there are high points they are re la ted to s o c i a b i l i t y , being with people that sort of th ing , but nothing to do with personal gain or motivation or anything l i k e that . Not job r e l a t ed . Him: No. I mean at best, I think there are some days where I don' t mind doing i t , or I guess once i n a blue moon I guess . . . . I get, jus t because of the physica l labour you fee l good, because you, i t ' s jus t l i k e a workout or some-thing l i k e that , you know, maybe you feel a l i t t l e better after a l i t t l e exerc ise , that sort of th ing . But, ah, t ha t ' s about i t . I wouldn't say that the high points sort 115 to of just are i t ' s a l l r i g h t , at best . Me: I t sounds l i k e you're reaching. Him: Yeah. Me: Lets s h i f t gears a l i t t l e . Question 5. Him: Hmmmm. Well i t was ah, I think those years have been the h igh l igh t of my l i f e so f a r . Espec ia l ly because of the freedom you've got. I t wasn't very regimented, e spec ia l ly being i n the Arts programme, you're w r i t i n g papers most of the time so there aren ' t any constant things l i k e i n math or something l i k e that . You know, I could pick my own working hours, you know which I l i k e , you know, I l i k e ear ly l i k e 12 to 2 or something. That's when I d id a l o t of my work, I l i k e that . I'm sort of a night person. And uh, because friends would always be, I think i t ' s the something new a l l the time. I think tha t ' s what a t t rac ted , t ha t ' s what I enjoyed most about u n i v e r s i t y . Because every day you'd learn something, or you'd meet someone you hadn't met before . . . . something was new v i r t u a l l y a l l the time, you know, and there was a sense of progression too i n what you d i d . . . . Sa t i s fac t ion of doing a good job, at t imes. And i f you d i d n ' t wanna put out, we l l you d i d n ' t put out and . . . . a l o t of freedom and that Yeah, I r e a l l y enjoyed un ive r s i ty a l o t But uh I suppose i n a way i t ' s OK . . . . coming from, I would say, sheltered background, r e l a t i v e l y conservative as far as ideas go . . . . stepping into university was not kind of an eye opener exactly, but something like that. You know, i t was like moving into a new world, that's probably what I enjoyed most about i t . Meeting people who weren't mennonites and conversing with them and discussing things and, you know, getting to know what other people were about. That was the best part. Me: It sounds like you need a certain amount of stimulation, external stimulation. Him: Yeah, yeah. I would say so. I get very, I get u h . . . . I think I get bored fast, I'm not sure but I always, virtually everything I do I just sort of, well even in books I just, I don't always finish them. I put them down for awhile and pick them up later. I like . . . . I like things to change and uh, you know, the same with, you know, going out with gir ls , I always , you know, i t 's good for a few months and then I get tired and move on Question 6 Him: No. Because I don't think there's any, what do you do with a BA, there's no orientation exactly,no job built specifically for guys with a major in History and Religious studies. No, I didn't' anticipate getting anything. I didn't expect to get anything. And I didn't. Totally met my expectations, (laughter) 117 Q u e s t i o n 7 How abou t r e a l i s t i c , ( l a u g h t e r ) I d o n ' t t h i n k , a h . . . . I t h i n k I ' m r e l a t i v e l y o p t i m i s t i c . I d o n ' t see any r e a s o n n o t t o be You know, f o r immedia te p l a n s , g o i n g t r a v e l l i n g a r e among t h i n g s I e n j o y most i n l i f e . Long r a n g e , g o i n g back t o s c h o o l , I t h i n k I ' l l d o . . . . and you know, by t h a t p o i n t I t h i n k I ' l l b e , you know, w i t h any l u c k I ' l l be a b l e t o s e t t l e down a l i t t l e b i t more e a s i e r , and do s o m e t h i n g a l i t t l e more r o u t i n e . I n a few y e a r s I hope s o . S o , yeah t h a t ' s p r e t t y o p t i m i s t i c . Me: A c t u a l l y t h a t sounds l i k e a n o t h e r h i g h p o i n t b e f o r e . The j o b a l l o w s you t o save enough money so t h a t you can do some o f t h o s e t h i n g s . H i m : Y e a h , i t d o e s . Bu t i t d o e s n ' t pay a l l t h a t w e l l , I mean I suppose $ 9 / h r . t h a t ' s a l l r i g h t I g u e s s , n o t g r e a t . Yeah w e l l I mean i t ' s a l w a y s t h e r e and t h a t ' s one good t h i n g abou t t h e j o b , because you do l e a r n a t r a d e and I can a l w a y s do i t . I c an a l w a y s , no m a t t e r what I ' m d o i n g , t h e r e ' s so much f l e x i b i l i t y i n t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n t r a d e t h a t , you k n o w , i n h o u s i n g someone i s a l w a y s l o o k i n g f o r an e x p e r i e n c e d c a r p e n t e r , o r you know l i k e , uh c a r p e n t e r s h e l p e r . Me: Y e t t h e y say t h a t t h e unemployment r a t e i n t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n i n d u s t r y i s 55%. 118 Him: Yeah, but tha t ' s union carpenters. That 's quite a d i f fe ren t t h ing . You see bu i ld ing houses i s r e a l l y doing wel l r i gh t now, so there 's lo t s of work I don' t know, I'm not much of one for uh, overly concerned about the future. I r e a l l y t r y to take i t as i t comes. Me: Sounds l i k e you feel that you're s t i l l going to get to do what you want to do. Him: Yeah, I s t i l l hope. You know, i f teaching f a l l s through I th ink , tha t ' s sort of my l a s t uh, except for w r i t i n g . I s t i l l wanna be a w r i t e r . I don' t think I ' l l ever get in to that , but a h . . . so of teaching f a l l s through, i t would be d i f fe ren t 'cause then I wouldn't know what we l l t ha t ' s something i n the future and i f i t ' s i n the future you can always hope for the best. . . . But I think I could do the job. I think I could be reasonably competent at doing that so Question 8 Yeah, i t ' s ah we l l i t ' s . . . we l l there 's that fact that I'm t i r e d i n the evenings. I think my s o c i a l l i f e has gone down, wel l i t ' s p ick ing up again now i n the spring but, through the winter i t was just you know, I saw very few people. S o , . . . . simply because I was too t i r e d and even i f we went out Friday n ights , or something l i k e that , by 11 I ' d be ha l f asleep, ready to go home. And then for 119 awhile there we working Saturdays as w e l l and you'd be up a t 6, and then Sundays come and you go to church and you have t o get up f o r t h a t and yeah I never had much energy f o r much, so my s o c i a l l i f e was a t i t ' s lowest ebb. And then of course j u s t coming back from Quebec was t o t a l l y o p p o s i t e , eh, th e r e was no... the school work was very, ah, very ah l a x , t h e r e was v i r t u a l l y no homework and the s o c i a l l i f e was j u s t about a l l t h a t t h e r e was. So, yeah i t was q u i t e a t r a n s i t i o n I suppose i n t h a t way. And uh....yeah with the family. . . . y e a h i t ' s hard t o say. I don't t h i n k I should be l i v i n g a t home. I t h i n k t h a t was a mistake. But i t doesn't, I t h i n k as job r e l a t e s t o t h a t uh yeah I t h i n k because, you know, 'cause I don't f i n d i t s t i m u l a t i n g I don't l i k e t a l k i n g about work, i f I can help i t . You know, and t h a t ' s a l l I do (la u g h t e r ) i t ' s s o r t o f , w e l l you j u s t don't t a l k much, except s p o r t s . Me: Your t i r e d n e s s , i s i t s t r i c t l y a p h y s i c a l t i r e d n e s s or i s t h e r e a l s o an emotional f a t i g u e ? Him: No, i t ' s mostly p h y s i c a l . But, I don't know i f you can always t o t a l l y separate the two. You know, l i k e I was sa y i n g , because I was p h y s i c a l l y t i r e d i n the evenings, I found i t hard t o conc e n t r a t e on r e a d i n g a book which i s something I l i k e t o a l o t i s r e a d i n g and I was so t i r e d I co u l d n ' t even p r o p e r l y read, j u s t s o r t of watch TV. I co u l d n ' t focus f o r more than an hour or two on a book. 120 Me: I guess what I was get t ing at was l i k e i f I do a job that i s phys i ca l l y demanding, i f I l i k e i t and get a l l exci ted about i t that kind of emotional strength, i f you w i l l , ca r r ies me through i t . And then have more energy, whereas i f I fee l l i k e I r e a l l y don't want to do t h i s job and then on top of that i t ' s phys i ca l l y demanding the fatigue i s a l o t more intense. Him: Yeah, yeah, I'm sure tha t ' s r i g h t . But I don' t know 'cause I can ' t r e a l l y say that I 've ever done anything phys i ca l l y demanding that I 've enjoyed (laughter) except playing soccer once i n a whi le . Age: 27 M a r i t a l Status: Single Occupation: House Construction 121 

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