I love urbex. My guess is you’re visiting this website because you love urbex too or are at least intrigued by what it is.
The economy in the United States is experiencing an extended period of unemployment hovering around 10%, enduring a foreclosure crisis and seeing an ever widening chasm between the poor and rich. A combination poor government leadership, enduring costly wars without end, living on credit, and allowing companies to squeeze consumers (namely banks and health insurance companies) without restraint is creating an environment where the number of urbex locations will increase. This is potentially great for future American Urbex content.
It isn’t great for college graduates looking to start their careers.
American Urbex is a project that helps occupy the time when I am not looking for a full-time job. More on that in a little bit…
I graduated from UW-Oshkosh with a Bachelors of Education in German and Speech Communication with honors. Getting my instructors license from the Wisconsin Department of Instruction was a bittersweet moment. There are no German or Speech Communication jobs in the state of Wisconsin. Nor do I anticipate one opening up for me in the near future. Teachers nearing retirement age are staying put longer due to the economic uncertainty. I can’t blame them for remaining. From a school district perspective it makes perfect sense to hire someone with at least a few years under their belt. Schools are already facing incredibly difficult budget cuts and each hire needs to come with some insurance that the person is somewhat proven.
For the last year I have been employed at UW-Whitewater as a Technical Support Analyst and I thoroughly enjoy my job. I have put my skills as a teacher to use by developing training sessions, documentation, and other instruction that helps our users better comprehend the technology. I must admit that during some of the downtime between monitoring updates I have worked on American Urbex articles to keep myself intellectually engaged. It is a worthwhile endeavor that creates something useful not only for myself, but for others.
In that downtime and when I get home, however, I spend time looking for a better paying full-time job commensurate with my skills. Without available teaching positions I have been applying for jobs in other sectors. I cannot even recall how many applications I have filled out, but I have tried to make the most of the three interviews I have gotten. In the interviews I try to connect my teaching and technical support experiences to what the employers are looking for. Either it doesn’t directly relate or I stumble through making those connections.
My student loans are now due and I can barely manage to pay. After prescriptions and other bills there is not anything left of my check. There is a roof over my head and food on my plate, and for that, I am greatful. My fear is that this will become the norm in my life. A few years back my dream was to have a steady job to finance travel to urbex locations far away. I was told if you stay in school and work hard that the American Dream could be yours. I stayed in school and worked hard. I’ve put my nose to the ground and chased any lead to the American Dream.
Somewhere along the way I realized that I do not believe in the American Dream.
Ascerbic comedian George Carlin once joked that you would have to be asleep to believe in the American Dream. It wouldn’t be so funny if it didn’t contain some grain of tragic truth. The American Dream is a manufactured ideal that Americans have outsourced to nations that will build it cheaper. It is now only accessible to those lucky enough with a job not outsourced.
Following the model for success offered by the American Dream isn’t working. Tapping local social connections, submitting applications and hoping for the best isn’t working. Getting connected online and using job search resources isn’t working. The maxim “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” has been a grinding exercise in frustration looking for a job. Albert Einstein said insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Perhaps it is my German education experience that inclines me to hold Einstein’s bit of advice as more sage. If I were to go into teaching German or Speech Communications I would be engaged in something I love, but would be actively promoting a hypocrisy spread in schools. Working hard and doing well in school no longer guarantees an individual access to a job with a comfortable wage.
When I am photographing an urbex location I see remnants of the American Dream. I see it in the ingenuity of the massive steel machines left behind in factories. I see it in the peeling paint on an abandoned home. I see it in the fading logo of an American made pickup trapped in a collapsed garage. When reconciling the past with the present I can’t help but wonder when America will wake up from the dream. One thing I try to accomplish with my photography is to show comfortable Americans that, yes, this nightmare is the part of the American Dream that is conveniently omitted.
What I do believe in is an American Reality.
Unlike the now outsourced and manufactured American Dream, the American Reality can only be crafted by an individual. For me that means reevaluating my skills and trying to apply them towards a new career. For American Urbex that means holding off on traveling to the next big urbex adventure until I figure out what to do. The reality is I can’t afford to dream and neither can my fellow struggling American citizen. At this moment my American Reality is in a state of chaos.
Comments are open for debate, criticism and job leads.
Being an european, I thought the situation was better in the US than in here – but given the large amount of urbex images you posted in the past months, I’m guessing it is not!
Unfortunately, this is a sign of the times we live in… outsourcing everything to cheap-workforce countries has left the so called “developed” nations facing an unprecedented crisis. And this is not a problem which is easy to solve, since some of the now-developed nations (like my country, which only entered the EU in the late 80s…) still relied in industries with little added value (clothing, basic manufacturing…). That was fine then, but not now, when you can get people in the East to do the same job for 1/10th the price!…
We don’t have any costly wars (fortunately), but our industry is stagnating on a day-to-day basis: each day I hear of another factory that closed and sent all its employees away.
Add some ignorance and lack of vision of our political leaders (our prime-minister is a big idiot, if you already had a chance to see one of his speeches), and you have an economy heavily dependent on foreign production, almost zero technological industry, and a large chunk of unemployment.
In the US it may be a little worse, since your health plans is ensured by private companies (our public health service still functions very reasonably, but we are a small country). And the college fees are not that astronomical, as well – although there are constant student movements claiming that they are too high and they should be free – one can perfectly pay for those, or, if lacking the funds, a scholarship is easily obtainable.
I wish you luck with that job hunt (I’ll be in the same situation in a couple of years, if I don’t decide to carry on a PhD program…). With all the projects and visibility you already have, it is just a matter of time until you find something that settles you. 🙂
Regards from the other side of the ocean.
Wow, I had no idea that you were a native Wisconsinite. I’ve been following you for awhile and I am now seeing this post. I’m currently a freshman at UW-Madison, and previous to this, I spent my life in Sheboygan. It’s sad to hear your story, but it’s something that a lot of us can relate to. It reminds me of when we studied the American Dream immensely last year in high school. Are there any updates to your situation? I hope things are better. If you ever want to meet up sometime, let me know. I don’t find many others with this interest and I’m thrilled to find someone local.
This is spot on. I just graduated two months ago, and I cannot find a job. It’s like…no one wants me, but I think you laid out the reasons why. These companies are laying people off. Jobs are being outsourced. Whatever is left, they want insurance for. In a weird way, this gave me hope, because this is everything I would have said, and then some. Thank you.