I’ve spoken with lots of other people who have had the same reaction as me when they’re driving east on East Washington. It is startling to see the monolithic walls of the Target store rising up from what used to be flat, open fields. Every time I go past there, the thought that always comes to my mind is that that is one heck of a big concrete box…with a little tiny sign that identifies it as a Target store.
Okay, so watching the construction at Regency Center has made it very obvious why these are called big box stores. But I think there is a more positive way to look at what’s happening on the former site of Kenilworth Junior High. The way I see it…and I know there are plenty who disagree with me…property that once was only of benefit to the gopher population, is now going to be providing jobs to the unemployed millennial generation in Petaluma – the high school, JC and college students who are finding it so difficult to find work.
According to an article on npr.org, only 55 percent of people ages 16 to 29 have a job — the lowest percentage since World War II. And the average college student graduates with $24,000 in student debt.
I can hear what you’re thinking. “Getting a job at Target or Dick’s Sporting Goods or Sprouts or any of the other retailers at the shopping center is hardly the answer to underemployed college graduates with crushing student debt.”
Let me speak from experience. We watched our 24 year-old son, Ethan, struggle for a year trying to crack the job market and find full time work after he graduated from San Francisco State with a degree in Cinema. Sure, things probably would have been different if he had gotten an engineering degree but his affinity for math stopped when he was a high school freshman in Algebra II.
During that year, he applied for everything that was even remotely a possibility including short-term gigs, admin, retail, and marketing. The only job he said he absolutely wouldn’t do was going back to Starbucks for a third stint – he had already worked there during high school and his junior year of college. Just before he enlisted in the army, he got an interview with Teavana. Had he not been heading off to Basic Training, he would have gratefully taken a job with them if it was offered. Although working at Teavana has a slightly better cachet than working at Target, it was a low-paying job, but a job nonetheless that would have allowed him to retain his independence and at least make some payments on his student loans.
In a perfect world, we would all work at places that pay us what we’re worth, give us health benefits and paid time off, recognize and nurture our potential, and appreciate us as individuals. Since that’s not the world we live in, let’s start appreciating the opportunities we do have. Because to me, working at Target is better option than not working at all.