I once had a date in Brooklyn with a woman who edited children’s books. Katie explained that if you want to make it in publishing, you have to be willing to live in New York City on $30,000 to $35,000/year for three years. If you can afford to make it through that as an editorial assistant, then you’re all set.
That sounds like an expensive project, considering she and her roommate were probably renting a 2BR apartment that came with a $2,500/month lease and a 90-minute daily commute. She noted that this structure led to limited economic diversity in the publishing industry, since only new grads with well-heeled families could afford the subsidies required to make it work.
That got me thinking about cool (or hot) industries that are in such high demand that people are willing to make enormous sacrifices to get (and keep) entry-level jobs.
When I was in school, Disney recruited students at William & Mary for the company’s college internship program. People who did the program loved it (you take classes, work as a Cast Member at Disney World, and make connections)…but it also sounded like the company exploited students’ desire to work for Disney by extracting long hours while not paying them very much.
The strength of Disney’s brand lets them get away with that. I suppose it’s simple supply-and-demand economics: when demand for working for your company is high, you don’t have to pay people much, because someone else will take the job. Of course, that’s also how sweatshops and coal mines worked in the early 1900s.
Doctors go through the stress and long hours of medical school and their residency with the expectation that it will all pay off in the end. Law students assume they can take care of their enormous loans when they become a corporate lawyer. OK. But what about other industries, where people don’t start at $100-150K? If you’re a ball-bearing manufacturer or another less-in-demand employer, you can’t extract that level of commitment from prospective employees.
What advice do you have for college students who are weighing whether to make those early-career sacrifices?