Getting a Job with No Degree

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Debt and no degree

March 2008

My sister is in deep, scary financial trouble. Her husband's business failed, they're in deep personal and business debt. They're in their late 30s/early 40s, have two pre-teen children and a mortgage they can just about afford (but maybe not for long). They're stuck. Neither of them has a college degree or formal training of any kind. Neither of them are computer savvy. My sister is hanging on to a low paying part-time govt. job just for the benefits and the promise of going full-time ''soon''. They live in the Portland, Oregon area and need hard, practical advice on: 1) good paying jobs for life (or something close to it) 2) how to get on track financially - and how to stick to it Can they get govt. assisted job training? Are there good non-profit organizations in the Portland area that can help them? Big Sister

I have been amazed to find that I know many, many folks with no college degree who find great, stable jobs in retail. The key is to find employment with a large chain; they have very good benefits (believe me--I have worked private non-profit for years, and the benefits in corporate retail are SO MUCH BETTER), many opportunities for advancement, and many different locations. After four months of unemployment, my partner (who has a Master's degree) took a job with Peet's, and she couldn't be happier. The company pays employee benefits even for part-timers (after they reach 500 hours). Her hours are a bit difficult to schedule at times (for some reason, retail does schedules on a weekly basis), but the opportunities to pick up extra hours always present themselves, due to the number of locations they have. We have also been able to keep our son at home, as I work mornings, and she works the closing shifts.

Our down the street neighbors are actually moving to Portland, OR this summer, and they don't even have to look for work: he is with Office Depot and she is with Sephora, so all they have to do is pick up and go. I don't believe that either of them has an advanced degree, and they are doing very well and enjoying themselves.

Although I know that retail doesn't pay a bunch in the beginning, it sounds as if your sister and her husband have the ability to advance fairly quickly, so this may be a good way to go. Claire