Young, educated, and unemployed at home with mom and dad in Alhambra

When I was a student at Alhambra High School, nothing sounded more exciting than driving out of the “Gateway to San Gabriel Valley” and into adulthood. I imagined upon graduating from college I would get an outrageously high paying job, and move into a luxurious apartment in Los Angeles.

I definitely never planned on getting my degree in literature and writing from UC San Diego and then moving right back in with my parents in Alhambra. But my senior year happened to coincide with the height of the recession, and after more than 90 resumes later, I’ve joined most of my Alhambra peers, who have made their way back to the Renaissance Theater, the local Starbucks and the public library, either enjoying “funemployment,” mobilizing their job search or preparing for graduate school.

We've been labeled the "Boomerang Generation:" a select group of 20-somethings who left the nest for college but headed back home after graduation, largely because of the recession. California's unemployment rate just hit 12.5 percent; among 20 to 24 year olds, the rate is even higher: 15.5 percent nationally and 19 percent in California.

Philip Ly found himself back in Alhambra after he graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Radio, Film and Television. He was living in Orange County with his girlfriend when their untimely break up, as well as a desire to save on the bills, pushed him to move back in with his parents. They welcomed him back and had even urged him to make the move earlier. Ly suggests this could have had something to do with Asian tradition, which usually follows that younger generations stay at home, often until they’re married.

Photos by Albert LuLy, who graduated from San Gabriel High School in 2004, is now living in Alhambra for the first time as an adult. He was surprised that the few years he spent away from the city changed his perspective. “As much as I hated this city and wanted to leave it growing up, I must say coming back here after college really makes me appreciate it more,” Ly said. “Alhambra still has a small-town feel, but at the same time we are urban with many shops, restaurants and entertainment. So in short I love Alhambra because it's close to LA and we don't have to deal with the crazy traffic.”

Unlike many returning grads, Erik Chew, a 2010 graduate of UC San Diego with a degree in biology, moved back in with his parents by choice. He wanted to take a break after feeling burned out from tough undergraduate coursework. But unlike Ly, Chew didn’t find any new connection with his hometown. “I like the food here. But otherwise, I can’t see myself living here long term,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of running into people I haven’t seen in a long time. I feel like they’re comparing themselves to me. Being unemployed doesn’t help with that.”

Amy Hutchins can relate. She graduated last year with a Hospitality and Tourism Management degree from San Diego State. But the industry’s lack of jobs led her up the I-5 and back to her parents. Living in Alhambra has made her miss the social aspects of school. “I feel slightly stunted here. I don't really go out anymore and I miss the social life I had in college,” she said. “It's weird not being able to just have friends stop by whenever and have wine and movie nights randomly in the middle of the week for no reason. It's not my own space anymore.”

Photos by Albert LuEven though I can count the number of interviews I’ve had on one hand and the job offers are zero, I’m trying to stay positive. And while it’s difficult feeling like an adult in a bedroom painted pink and job hunting in the same library that once provided me with ample Babysitter’s Club books, I’m thankful to my parents for the privilege of rent-free living.

In the nearly two years I've spent at home, I've been surprised that I now appreciate Alhambra's proximity to downtown, reconnecting with old friends, and the multicultural food options. It's pretty awesome being less than a mile from Pepe’s, Sam Woo B.B.Q, Thai Paradise, Wahib’s Middle East Restaurant and Aloha Food Factory (although my thighs would disagree). I’ll probably move closer to the city once I find a job, but in the meanwhile, I'm sampling the boba and dim sum.

17 thoughts on “Young, educated, and unemployed at home with mom and dad in Alhambra”

  1. Nas,

    check out elance for freelance writing gigs: http://www.elance.com.

    if you want to go back to SD and enjoy the food culture here and like 360 days of sunshine, you should apply to write for the company i work for, we also own carprices.com, pretty straightforward writing stuff going on:
    http://www.autofusion.com/ucsd/

    anyone else on the brink of graduating school soon should definitely get in on a paid internship, it’s a surefire way to transition to a full-time position. use my site, just type in the location and you can find paid internships here: http://www.paidinternships.net/

  2. I was laid off a few years ago along with 977 people at the age of 27 when the company I worked for shut it’s door. I was unemployed for the first time since I was 13…yes I was paying taxes and in 8th grade. It was the worst 2 months of my life. One of the biggest problem with new graduates and employment is that they were never given the chance to get the experience or to build their resume. Their real competition in the available jobs is with people like me who were able to get years of experience.

    Unlike many of the recent college graduates, I do not have the safety of my parent’s home to run to. My father passed away early in my college years and I was used to working 3 part time jobs and college full time in order to pay my disabled mother’s mortgage and bills. My friends have always said I was mature, we believe it was my circumstances and responsibilities that required me to grow up a lot quicker.

    With the economy the way it is. I think it really teaches us all the true value of a dollar. I remember when I graduated college my colleagues and I were getting job offers constantly, head hunters would call us at work, HR would hear about it and they would throw money at us to stay. Those times are definitely gone. Working hard will only get you so far. Having a job is already a blessing. Ask for a raise and you’ll likely hear something along the lines of “Let’s wait for business to pick up first”.

    If you are lucky enough to have supportive parents, aim high, just not too high and be prepared to work…crawl your way up that corporate ladder.

  3. I was laid off a few years ago along with 977 people at the age of 27 when the company I worked for shut it’s door. I was unemployed for the first time since I was 13…yes I was paying taxes and in 8th grade. It was the worst 2 months of my life. One of the biggest problem with new graduates and employment is that they were never given the chance to get the experience or to build their resume. Their real competition in the available jobs is with people like me who were able to get years of experience.

    Unlike many of the recent college graduates, I do not have the safety of my parent’s home to run to. My father passed away early in my college years and I was used to working 3 part time jobs and college full time in order to pay my disabled mother’s mortgage and bills. My friends have always said I was mature, we believe it was my circumstances and responsibilities that required me to grow up a lot quicker.

    With the economy the way it is. I think it really teaches us all the true value of a dollar. I remember when I graduated college my colleagues and I were getting job offers constantly, head hunters would call us at work, HR would hear about it and they would throw money at us to stay. Those times are definitely gone. Working hard will only get you so far. Having a job is already a blessing. Ask for a raise and you’ll likely hear something along the lines of “Let’s wait for business to pick up first”.

    If you are lucky enough to have supportive parents, aim high, just not too high and be prepared to work…crawl your way up that corporate ladder.

    1. Hi Mike,

      Thanks so much for your advice. I really admire your tenacity and the obstacles you’ve overcome in your life. I know I’m very lucky to have parental support and I’m trying not to take that for granted.

      What you said about recent college graduates competing with much more qualified adults is interesting. I’m struggling to find a job before the new class of graduates gets out of school in May and June; that’s a whole new set of people to compete with!

      It’s tough out there but I definitely agree with your point that there’s something to be learned in economic hardship. Not only the value of the dollar but the value of earning your place and not having it land in your lap. I’m almost glad I’m not getting work easy because it’ll really help me appreciate the moment an employer calls me and says, “We’d like to offer you a job.” Plus it’s always good to know how to job search properly – everyone has to go through it — and these days multiple times.

      Thanks for reading and for your comments!

      Nasrin

  4. Nasrin, I’m sure you will find something good. Recruiters I’ve talked to in the past have said writing skills are nearly always the most coveted, particularly in entry level positions. A lit degree from a UC should at least open some doors. Unfortunately, in a down economy you will need to cast a wide net and perhaps apply to a position or in a place far away you never considered applying to in the past. Good luck!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Dan! I’m definitely trying to keep my options open. And thanks so much for your comments on the rest of the site!

  5. Hi All,

    The problem is that their won’t be jobs for a couple of years. My company is laying off 250 people. Instead of waiting for it to turn around, I took action. Now, I’m getting paid for drinking healthy products and educating the public. I would love to meet you guys and help out, since I have lived in Alhambra over 15+ years.

    Thanks,
    Vince
    626-233-8842

    1. Thanks so much, Vince. I may take you up on that!

  6. Too bad there aren’t jobs in Alhambra at home. But I could really relate to the mixed feelings of those who came home after school. Is there a place to be an adult at home? Thanks for the article!

    1. Thanks for reading, Jesse! I’m sure there’s a place to be an adult at home. It just takes a bit of trial and error to figure it out.

  7. Nasrin, I like your voice. You have a light touch and are able to bring the reader into your stories. And thanks for introducing me to a new word – “funemployment”

    1. Thanks, Joe 🙂 I love that word, haha.

  8. Interesting article Nasrin.

    With Alhambra’s “maturing” population from the Census article, I think it’s actually refreshing for this city to welcome back young educated minds. Although the circumstances may not be in the best light (considering the “boomerang” effect), young graduates like yourself is exactly what this city needs to invigorate and develop the community we live in. Your article contribution demonstrates this. I’m sure you will eventually build up the experiences to land yourself not only a job, but a great career.

    Keep up the great work! 🙂

    1. I’m glad I get to give back to my community in whatever way I can. Thanks so much for the kind words, I appreciate it!

  9. OP, cheer up! At least you’re writing for the Source! Nothing wrong with part of The Gerson Army.

    1. That made me cheer up — at least. Thanks Tony!

    2. I definitely love writing for the Source. Gerson’s Army rocks!

Leave a Reply