MBA Mows Grass To Make Ends Meet

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by 03310151, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. 03310151

    03310151 Active Member

    Awesome, I now know what I am qualified to do!

    As part of our Bearing Witness 2.0 project, the Huffington Post is rounding up local stories of formerly middle-class families who are now struggling to stay afloat. If you or someone you know has a story to tell, please e-mail me at [email protected].

    When Frank Harris completed his MBA degree in May of 2005, he never expected to end up mowing grass for a living. But after losing his $103,000-a-year upper management job at Lowe's, just as the job market was crashing in December 2008, he didn't see many other options.

    "I thought the MBA would differentiate me from anyone else," said Harris, who lives with his wife and two children in Lafayette, Louisiana. "I thought if times got tough, I'd be able to find a job or have an advantage to get out the retail industry. Every weekend, every holiday, it was a rougher life than I wanted to have. I wanted to be able to spend more time with my young family. But here we are, December would be two years down the road, and the only thing I've been able to do is continue to grow my little one-man grass cutting business."

    Harris says he currently has 36 customers and counting, which, combined with his wife's teacher salary, is enough to pay the bills and take care of their kids. But he works long, odd hours, and his job stability is often dependent on the weather and the season.

    "I work part-time in the mornings for a packaging company and make a little money there, particularly through the fall when there isn't as much grass to cut. Thank God for the time change, because now I can work until dark at least. Then I get home, take a shower, plop down in front of the computer and fill out as many job applications as I can."

    Harris' wife Angela, who stayed home to raise the kids when he was making enough money to support them both, has gone back to work as a special education teacher to supplement his income and provide the family with health benefits. She also teaches in an after-school program and works as an occasional server and bartender for a friend's catering company. The Harrises now have six jobs between them, compared to the one Frank had before.

    "I am completely exhausted, physically and emotionally," Angela said. "Frank is doing the best he can to be the provider of our family, but he has his emotional ups and downs to deal with too. It is extremely hard to remain positive when you are an experienced and proven man with an MBA and you can't even get an interview."

    Frank, who now makes about $45,000 a year mowing grass, says he doesn't mind the job itself -- his clients have been very respectful to him, and one of them even helped him overhaul his resumé. The hardest part about his job, he says, is not having as much time for his kids.

    "That's been the biggest change, the difficult part. My daughter Hayley had a dance recital and I wasn't able to go. We needed the work, the money. In the past I had a little flexibility to take a long lunch to see the recital, but I can't do that anymore. At least she understands it better than my son -- Hayden is four, and every time he sees me putting on my jeans, he's like, 'Daddy, are you leaving again?' It pulls at my heart strings a little. But we have to do what we have to do."

    Angela Harris says the hardships they have endured have only made their marriage stronger.

    "I encourage Frank daily, as he is working very hard to earn a living for us, even if he is not utilizing that expensive college education or all those years of hard work climbing the corporate ladder. He comes home extremely tired, scraped, burned, bruised, and sore, seven days a week. I can't see how beat up his heart and pride are, but I know he has had some pretty low days that only God could have gotten him through. Our marriage suffered at first, but it is now stronger than ever as we have learned to rely on each other, understand each other and accept each other for our individual strengths and weaknesses."

    Frank Harris remains positive as well, despite all the lifestyle changes he and his wife have had to adjust to. "I'm just fortunate in the fact that I can still physically do this and tolerate the heat and have the skill set to do handyman stuff that will pay the bills," he said. "I know I won't be able to do it forever

    45K is actually not that bad in my area of the world. Its not great, but I know a lot of people in my city who would love to make 45K a year. Humbling experience for a lot of people.

    Thank God we all earn our degrees for personal satisfaction and our dogged pursuit of knowledge, right? :eek:
  2. bazonkers

    bazonkers New Member

    I'd like to know where he got his MBA from. Just because you checked the box doesn't mean it's a life of people throwing money at you. I bet if he had an MBA from a top 10 school, however, he might have an easier time finding a job.
  3. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    I don't see exactly what's so bad about his situation? He lost his job and through hard work and good sense (yay MBA?!) is able to make 45k a year in a thriving business . THAT's pretty impressive and nothing to get down about.

    If they see the need to have six jobs between them, I have to wonder exactly what their standards of living are. 45k (57k adjusted for inflation) was enough for my step father to provide a family of 6 with a house, pool, horseshoe pit, swing-set and several child-friendly luxuries on top of the necessities of life (we lived in one of the most expensive states, with the highest taxes, in a nice suburban town- those were the days, before my life went KAPUT!). That AND he wasn't in debt, never had an inheritance, didn't receive any govt assistance, etc...

    Of course, making judgments wouldn't be fair. This is obviously a talented, sincere, hard-working guy, it's just that...

    I'm one of them.
  4. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    ABC news ran a story not too long ago about a UCLA MBA grad that was delivering pizzas now.

    Also, I asked two PhD friends of mine, both now considered top in their fields, what their first jobs were after finishing their PhD programs.

    One waited tables at a sports bar, the other drove a truck for Frito-lay. Both did this for about a couple of years until they were able to get faculty positions elsewhere.
  5. emissary

    emissary New Member

    The part that jumps out at me is the positive side. Yes, this economy sucks, and yes it has ruined many lives. I personally have taken a massive financial hit, both in net worth (which is now negative) and income. BUT, I now really appreciate the time that I do have with my family much more. My marriage has never been stronger. And I don't have that consumeristic-rat-in-a-wheel mindset that had been driving me blindly before the downturn.

    Many of us have faced a reality check. This guy is making the best of his. I hope I can say the same.
  6. HikaruBr

    HikaruBr Member

    I'm not sure any american will understand how absurd is for someone from a developing country to see someone complain about earning 45k a year mowing grass!

    if anything, this just proves that 1) the economical situation is not as bad as everyone think it is 2) the USA is still a great country to live, if not the best. Try to do that in Brazil, China or India - I'll bet you won't make even 4k a year.
  7. Vincey37

    Vincey37 New Member

    Colorado State.

    Google is your friend!
  8. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Gee, maybe this is the perfect economic opportunity for me, myself, and I. :D
  9. Lindagerr

    Lindagerr New Member

    I don't know where you live

    Here in NJ 45K would not support a family of 4 in a decent lifestyle. That is part of the problem I have with our national numbers, They don't take local cost of living into account.

    I live in a fairly small home (at least for this area) 1 bathroom 3 bedrooms great room (kitchen,living, dining room) we bought this house in 1984 when finding a house for under $100K was not an easy task. My property taxes, mortgage and electric(all electric home) come to almost 2K a month. I have 4 adults living here full time, but right now my part time subbing is the only job.
    My husband was a hard working full time employee with the same company for more then 30 years. With the money we put into our 401K we might be OK when he retires, but that is at least 10 years away.

    It seems to me the couple in the article are a young couple just starting out, we all worked hard when we started out. I have several friends with husbands out of work after 25-35 years with a company, these men are 50-60 years old and still have families to help support. I have other friends that would like to retire they are having a hard time with the added work load(people get laid off, but the work still needs to be done) these men can not afford to retire or they may lose thier home. This is not the reward we all worked so hard for. I don't know the answer, but the rich just seem to get richer(in my part of the country that is 250K+/yr) and the rest of us need to stick together and try to turn this mess around.
  10. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    I have always said that the people in the middle of the average organization are the most likely to be cut when things turn bad. The people at the bottom are needed to make the business run and the people at the very top have the ability to protect their jobs to some extent. That makes middle and upper-middle management the most dangerous jobs in the the average organization. Most of them are highly paid and, in the eyes of the top managers, expendable. Obviously this is a generalization and many exceptions could be cited.

    This appears to be what happened to this unfortunate individual. It is a shame to waste his schooling on such a non-academic job, but he's in better shape than many others. Hopefully, things will turn around for all of us soon.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2010
  11. AV8R

    AV8R Active Member

    I truly admire the guy for getting out there and doing something and not complaining about doing something that's beneath his education. All hard work is honorable.
  12. GeneralSnus

    GeneralSnus Member

    "Upper management" as used in this article is a bit misleading. According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Harris was employed as a store manager. Certainly the highest level of management in the store on a day to day basis, but low-level in the overall organization.
  13. MISin08

    MISin08 New Member

    Hmm, store manager seems like a job one can get on hard work alone. I managed a branch of a bank at 27 with an unschool education. Perhaps he is making better use (in a certain sense) if his education now. 45K mowing lawns does show industry and business acumen.

  14. TCord1964

    TCord1964 New Member

    When times get tough, you do what you've got to do to provide for your family. During the recession of 1991, I got fired from a management position and worked 4 part-time jobs to make ends meet. It took me a year to get back into a full-time management position, but it was for less pay. I think you'll eventually see the jobs come back, but it will be an employer's market and the jobs won't pay as much as they did before the recession.
  15. BlueMason

    BlueMason Audaces fortuna juvat

    No doubt it would be an adjustment going from a 100k / year to 45k / year - regardless of who you are, the more money you make, the more you spend.

    @ Maniac: You're comparing your step father raising 6 kids with this chap - you adjusted his 45k but you didn't adjust your step dad's money - 20 / 30 years ago, single income families had it much easier than they do now.

    ..but I think the vast majority, if not all, of those who attain a graduate degree do so with the hope of also increasing their salary - just like this I feel for him and also give him kudos for doing what needs to be done... and I'm sure he's also learning valuable lessons in entrepreneurship while he's adjusting to his new life.
  16. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    LOL, I'm not that old.
  17. datapoly

    datapoly Member

    This guy is even more "powerful"

    ..........Probably the only taxi driver in this world with a PhD from Stanford and a proven track record of scientific accomplishments...........
  18. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Wow. Very interesting stories and PhD cab driver to boot. That book might be a good read.
  19. Joe Certification

    Joe Certification New Member

    According to Hewitt Associates, while the overall employment rate is 9.7%, the unemployment rate for those with Bachelor degrees is 4.7%. These stats do not address 'underemployment' but they are, nevertheless, revealing. Let's face it: some people get themselves into their own predicament. That stated, I do have a healthy respect for those willing to do anything (e.g., pizza delivery) versus nothing.

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