JTPA Thought Me to Keep A Side Hustle


My first job was through JTPA, also known as the Job Training Partnership Act, which is a federal program for poor kids that enabled us to work to prepare us to enter the workforce. 

I remember my mom signing me up at the local employment office around April when I was 14 and 15 years old, and my job assignments began the first week of June and lasted through the end of August, right before school started. My first job was at the community college working in the Continuing Education department as an office clerk and my second job was at the tax office, also as an office clerk, except, they trained me to process vehicle registrations. When I worked at the tax office, this was back in the 80s when we received stickers with the expiration year on them to place on the back of our license plates. What I remember most from my JTPA jobs was that I earned $4.15 an hour and worked 40 hours a week for three months! Do the math I was a very wealthy poor kid.

What I appreciate the most from my JTPA placements is that I learned valuable skills through jobs that have stuck with me my entire life. I wholeheartedly believe that it was JTPA that planted a seed of side hustling in me because once I turned 16 I was able to work legally and in fact, I have worked two jobs since my junior year in high school. 

In high school and during my 20s I worked two jobs out of greed. All of my side hustles were just too damn easy to let go, so I made a lot of money and did even more frivolous spending. In my 30s once I began working as a career professional I realized that my salary out of graduate school was entirely too low not to have a side hustle. There was no way that I could pay all of my bills and be able to buy a few necessities on the unrealistically low salary I received out of graduate school.

Years later with more education and more skills and experience added to my resume, it is even more necessary to keep a side hustle. In part, because companies are just not offering salaries that are comparable to the economy and cost of living. Add to the low pay, the uncertainty about whether funding has been cut thereby affecting budgets or the unnecessary bureaucracy that also impacts employee salaries and job promotions.

I am proud of my education and the investment I made in myself. I am highly disappointed, though, that our economic systems have not kept pace with the education we are almost demanded to receive to work in our "high skilled" workforce. Looking back at my JTPA experience, perhaps those two summer jobs were preparing me for these two extremely incompatible systems called the American economy and post-secondary education knowing that I would need to keep a side hustle to make ends meet. 


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