Life in America

America’s financial crises

In 1989, one year after I moved with my family to Jordan, the Jordanian Dinar drifted down and lost 50% of its value (no Wikipedia source!).

In 1997, the Asian financial crises caused the value of the Malaysian Ringgit to drop 40%. This happened after 6 months or so upon my arrival to Malaysia to continue my graduate study.

In 2007, an economic recession hits the US. This time the financial crises took five years to happen after my arrival to the US.

Three financial crises happened in three countries within three different decades. All these financial crises have one thing in common; I. I don’t think I have anything to do with these countries’ economic meltdown. But for some unknown reason I have to experience these countries’ financial crises.

Regardless of any conspiracy theory, that links my existent with any nation’s financial crises, the worst for me is the US recession since I am working part-time as a teaching assistant to support myself and pay the tuition fee.

Since December 2007 I have heard and read thousands of stories about how this recession affected many people in the US.

A Biologist working as a researcher in my university was laid off after 16 years of service. A Pharmacy technician in my university hospital was laid off after 14 years. Both in their late 40s or early 50s, they have kids studying in universities and both are without job for more than a year now. A Civil Engineer with a masters degree decided to go to grad school for a MBA degree after losing hope of finding a job after almost two years. These people are Arab immigrants who I know personally. Of course the stories of unemployed people who I don’t know are in millions.

Until 2007 the two most wanted people were Nurses and Pharmacists.  Now, even these two are no longer needed not because there are enough of them but because hospitals and health institutes can’t afford to hire more people.

My uncle, who owns a business in Houston, told me he never experienced such a bad economy in 20 years. That is, since he came to this country.

Usually, Americans don’t pursue a masters or PhD degree in engineering. But now since the economy is very bad they started to enroll in Grad Schools.

A friend of mine, who is a third year PhD student, left the country because he could not find on campus job to pay for the tuition fee.

I live in the university’s Apartments. These apartments are dedicated to graduate students. For the past five years I rarely have seen any American living in these apartments. This semester I already know four Americans moving here and I can see more of them coming. This influx is due to the fact that there more are more American graduate students now and that these apartment are cheaper, although not better, than the off campus ones.

The course I help teaching every semester has usually 400 students. Since it is a computer programming subject it requires using computer labs and it needs at least seven TAs. In 2005, the TAs were from Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, China, and two Americans. This semester, the TAs are from Jordan, Bahamas and five Americans.

A fresh graduate Engineer’s salary used to start from $45,000 a year. This salary goes up to 60K and 70K with experience an amount that lures any one away from grad schools. But now since this dream salary is no longer reachable many decided to go back to school by enrolling in grad schools.

This semester the department assigned me half the task I used to do which means I will get half the salary. This policy came because of the increasing number of graduate students so they decided to give part-time jobs for more students. In addition, universities are trying to tighten the belt as much as they could because of the funds cut. Since the full salary I used to get was barely enough I had to look for on campus job and believe me it wasn’t easy to find one. I was competing with 30,000 other students who many of them have at least unemployed parent. I was told by a lab director on campus that he received 100 job applicants for one position. The job was lab assistant and it requires a graduate student. Luckily, I found a job at the campus dinning services. My job title is customer service attendant. Although the job title sounds fancy but in reality it means washing dishes, mopping floor, serving food, etc. It is not as good as teaching but at this time of economic difficulty I have to say Alhamdulilah always.

So now I provide food for thought to my students, as well as the stomach.

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16 thoughts on “America’s financial crises

  1. Your post made me very optimistic…NOT!
    I spend lots of hours weekly thinking of where will it end up with me after graduating!
    I just prefer to leave it for now, and avoid thinking of it…

    For your case, it’s temporary I guess, since you’ll be coming back to teach in the middle east or any where else… It’s a ‘bit’ better I guess…

    Good luck!

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    1. You are right don’t think about finding a job at least not before you get your degree.
      Hopefully, after I get my PhD I will go back home and teach in a university.

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  2. مبروك الشغل “المؤقت” الجديد
    و بالتوفيق ان شاء الله

    ايمتا انت جاي عالاردن بالزبط؟؟؟
    علشان نعمل حسابنا قصدي 🙂

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  3. That’s one difference between countries like Jordan and the US, I was actually just thinking about this last night, when an organization (public or private) in Jordan needs to hire employees, they look for people with experience, almost always; an unemployed person sends them a CV and they think “naah, he’s not working currently” the CV? In the deleted items! No matter what the position was.
    It would be really nice to hear that some company has decided to do the unemployment rate in the country a favor and hire unemployed graduates (maybe train them a little if they need it).
    This has led us to where we are now, people who have a job can have the luxury of changing that job if they’re not fully satisfied, whereas fresh graduates and not so fresh graduates who are on the verge of depression because they can’t support themselves (andor families) can’t even get a lousy one! Simply because there is no “Previous Experience” section in their CVs.
    In your case the university decided to give more jobs for more students, even it was on the expense of already-employed students, it is for the best!
    This “those who already have, can get but those who don’t, cannot” phenomenon has got to disappear, it’s just like when people with a bigger salary get the bigger raise, when the rich kids get the scholarships and so on.
    Sorry for my long comment bas محروق دمي عالبلد!
    Good luck with your new job 🙂

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    1. I suffered from the same thing when I graduated back in the mid 90s. Not a single hiring company wanted to hire fresh graduates. Although, there was a high demand for computer programmers at that time but no one wanted to do the right thing by solving the problem of those just graduated and were eagerly looking for jobs for whatever low salary they could get.
      You know here in the US the first people to be considered for release from the companies are those with higher salaries. That is people with experience. And companies here like to hire fresh graduates because they give them lower salaries than those with experience. In fact, some PhD people I know were told they are overqualified for the job a term you never hear in Jordan.
      Thanks for your comment it really shows your concern about what is going on and I hope there is a way to help train and hire fresh graduates. And thanks for the wishes for the new job 🙂

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      1. Jarrad,

        In Jordan, if you have a masters degree, then you are over qualified!

        The problem with fresh graduates is that companies in Jordan are not run for a purpose other than making money as soon as possible, not giving a damn about what the future would be like, in short they have no vision or mission or any of this, and if they have, then it is only posted on the entrance of the company, so you do not really find any local companies having a graduate trainee programs, or that even aim at helping the society, which I call the Jordanian capitalism!

        I studied mechanical engineering at a university in Jordan, my batch was made of 80 students, 70 of them are now working in gulf, they are paid what is good enough for them to live there nothing more nothing less, in a place where they are treated as 3rd class citizens! The problem, Jarrad, is that out of those 70, 70 graduates hardly passed their courses with d’s and c’s, they are very incompetent, I experienced that first hand, and have no purpose in life, and they can not tell that they do not have a purpose in life, so the problem is not gonna get solved any time soon! Oracle opened a regional office in Jordan, and due to the low quality of graduates shut it down soon!

        It is like a loop perpetuating itself for eternity!

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  4. Haitham,
    Any company’s, any where in the world, first goal is to make money and this is its right. Now, how it makes this money should be questionable if it is against the country’s priorities.
    But regardless of making money companies with vision should also hire young people to bring some fresh ideas. You always need people to think differently in your company otherwise you will end up with the same ideas.
    But I felt sad when I read your comment about the reason behind closing Oracle in Jordan and I hope your reason is not true. Also, to see this huge number of graduates leaving Jordan makes one ponder how we will ever improve.

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    1. Jarrad,

      I know that companies are for money, and not a charity, but I am trying to tell you about the types of companies we have in Jordan, which might tel you something about the problem of unemployment in Jordan! Second, just believe me, Oracle did close for that reason =)

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  5. There are some big advantages in hiring fresh graduates, in that they’re fresh. They’re very inexpensive, low salary, they’re fresh= ready to work long hours, and you can teach them to work your way versus others with experience who like to work by their rules or according to how they ran things at their previous jobs.

    People think that doctors were affected the least in this recession, which might be true. However they were significantly affected, most of them at least, because people stopped paying their bills. Many doctors only get paid for 20-30% of the patients they see. Patients can’t afford to pay these bills which remain the number one cause for bankruptcy in the US

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    1. I didn’t know that doctors are paid only for 20-30% of the patients they see. It really tells you something about the economy in this country. A friend of mine filed for bankruptcy after he was hit by a heart attack.

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  6. Best of luck Jaraad.
    Thanks 4 the fantastic read, I have nothing else to add 🙂

    Business is ruling the world my friend! In more aspects than one.

    H.

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  7. Best of luck Jaraad!
    Was a great read.
    We’ve actually just conducted a poll about ME Fresh grads in the workforce (at Bayt.com) and it looks like employers are more prone to recruit fresh grads post the recession mainly because they cost them less money (as per 51.7% of poll respondents), in addition of course to the fact that Fresh grads are perceived to have more passion, self motivation and desire to learn. I might be able to share more compelling stats with you next week 🙂
    On a side note, wonderful blog and best wishes to you from Beirut for a Ramadan Mubarak!
    Mona

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    1. I think such poll is very important and promising especially for fresh graduates, it give them confidence when they apply for jobs. I hope Bayt.com conduct more surveys to help ME grads find jobs. Three or four of my friends here in the US got their jobs through monster.com
      Thanks and Ramadan Mubarak!

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    Like

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