Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Job Fair at UTPA

On Thursday, April 13, there will be a Job Fair at the University of Texas-Pan American. I will be reviewing the old resume and will print out some copies. Tomorrow, I'll be going for a haircut and a nice, not flashy, outfit. Tomorrow will also mark my "cutoff" point for my last round of job applications at UTPA. I applied for maybe 15 positions ranging from groundskeeper to clerk. Not one call for an interview. These companies that are coming to the job fair, will have jobs outside of the RGV. If I seem interesting to one of the companies, I am willing to relocate at this point. This Summer, I'll include the County as a target for employment. It takes several rounds of applications there too, even if you're qualified.

I really like the Rio Grande Valley. My wife and I moved back here from Austin so that our children would have the opportunity to interact with their grandparents and other family members. I still want that for them. Economically, however, the opportunity cost is very high. I have plenty of friends who have left the Rio Grande Valley. Some have finished college, some haven't. Many of them are doing well despite their lack of a degree. They have good salaries, own their homes, and even have started their retirement savings. Me? None of the above. I know that if I can make it here, anywhere else in the country would be easy. It's just waiting for the opportunity here that is killing me.

The poor Mexican was talking to me today (my inner voice of self-doubt). He was telling me that I should just clerk at a convenience store or two or three. At one point I've had three jobs. I worked for Confetti, China Wok, and T-Mobile. When T-Mobile fired me, I went back to T-Mobile and Convergys as a vendor selling lunch plates (catering) for a few months. I'm up for the challenge of three jobs again. But, shouldn't I expect better? Of course, I'm angry at the poor Mexican for planting these thoughts in my mind. Playing it safe isn't getting me anywhere. I need to go on the offensive.

The reason I am doing handywork and going out looking for odd jobs is because I can't just sit around waiting for somebody to call me for an interview. It's hard work, but at the end, I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that clerking at a store does not offer. I will say that I have low expectations from the Job Fair. After all, my resume will be one amongst hundreds the representatives will take with them back to their Human Resources departments. There will be many applicants with better work experience or better grades or whatever. The rich Mexican (my inner voice of confidence) tells me I should go and try anyways. Worst case scenario, I spent a few bucks on nice paper for nothing. Best case scenario, I get a job. So, I'm going and I will do my best.

In my recent talks with the rich Mexican, he has planted the seed of an idea. He seems to think that I ought to leave the Rio Grande Valley. He thinks that there is no place for me here, or else I would have found it. With all the changes that I have made in 2006, perhaps I ought to change where I live as well. I would write about this in my personal blog, but I think that there may be others out there who feel the same way. I have friends who have graduated and are having trouble landing jobs in the RGV. In the meantime, local businesses are hiring people from out of state. What gives? And then there are those who have moved out who are going from job to job with better and better pay at every turn. I know a guy recently released from prison who makes more money cutting up chickens in Arkansas than my wife and I make combined here in the RGV. So, for you fellow jobless RGV people, perhaps we ought to leave this place and go where we are needed.

This ties in with the immigration issue and with employment in the Rio Grande Valley. The mojados who stay here in the RGV, do it because they have steady work and can be back within a couple days if they get caught and deported. Those who have ventured to the northern states, don't have sure work, but they have work that pays well when they land it. Mexico is losing a lot of talent to the U.S. because there is no place for those workers in Mexico. Many talented people leave the Rio Grande Valley too because the opportunity is not here. Perhaps I ought to take a page from the mojado handbook and go north. We are training people, but either not paying them well enough or not hiring them.

I already have a rudimentary plan for my exodus. From the proceeds of selling my truck, I'm going to stash enough for a bus ticket. Wherever I end up going, there must be public transportation so that I can travel to work. Upon arrival at my destination, I will venture to find temporary work. I will seek lodging at the Salvation Army, having spent my money on a bus ticket. Then, I will look for a decent job. Of course, I will have to temporarily leave my family behind while I establish myself in my new community. I'll probably start a new blog and call it Migrant Renaissance or something along those lines.

For now, the rich Mexican and the poor Mexican are doing their best to influence my decision. Part of me is reluctant because I enjoy the charm and culture of the Rio Grande Valley. I love the heated politics. I like the warm winters. The Rio Grande Valley is home. But then, another part of me has had it with the lack of opportunity. For now, I'm taking the edge off by going out and creating a job for myself. There's plenty of work available landscaping, building, cleaning, and other menial tasks. I'm doing whatever it takes to get by. The proactive part of me wants a fresh start. Who will win? The poor Mexican, the rich Mexican, or will somebody finally hire me to do more than just push buttons and give change? I can't wait to find out.

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