What you can learn from a Yale grad — fired, broke and working as a barista

You graduate from Yale. Score a high paying and influential job in advertising. Rise the ranks and become the best in your field.

Then you’re fired by new management that wants to hire cheaper labor.

Now what?

Yale alum and son of acclaimed writer Brendan Gill, Michael Gill, experienced just that.

He went and became a Starbucks barista.

You might be thinking that’s crazy. A degree from a top college should guarantee a good job and a secure, safe future — not a lowly minimum-wage job like Michael’s.

It’s untrue.

No degree will guarantee any type of life. No job is inherently better than the next.

Mike Gill SocratesPost.com ad-free college admissions newsletter Issue 17

We picked Michael’s memoir, How Starbucks Saved My Life, to review and share with our Ivy-hopeful readers. In the midst of prepping for admission, we’re overly focused on getting that acceptance letter and forget that the majority of life happens after college.

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Mike shares his lessons with us. How working in retail differs from corporate America. What mistakes he made and regrets he had. How being a son of privilege affected his relationships with others. How being raised in the upper class and attending an Ivy League detached him from other social classes.

  • A lifetime of service to a company in corporate America led to getting fired due to the cost of keeping him on. The ad agency felt they could get equally good copywriters and pay them less. No one is immune to this. You could get into your dream college, become a star, and still risk getting fired.
  • When brought down to one’s knees, with no available options that were once so certain, people get creative about what to do next. For Michael, that was saying “yes” when a Starbucks manager asked if he was looking for a job.
  • Like Michael did, take a chance when an opportunity arises even if it’s not something you’re used to or even something you like. He’d never even mopped a floor in his own house or office before cleaning Starbucks bathrooms.

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