Reality show hides California reality

Nov. 23, 2012

By Joseph Perkins

My wife turned me on to a new reality show, “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley.” It airs on Bravo, between installments of the cable network’s “Real Housewives” franchise, which chronicles the lives of too-well-to-do ladies in places like Beverly Hills and Orange County.

Anyway, “Start-Ups” is executive-produced by Randi Zuckerburg, the 30-year-old big sis of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. She assembled a cast of young, attractive entrepreneurs who, according to Bravo promos, are “on the path to becoming Silicon Valley’s next great success stories.”

Among those tender-aged tech tycoons-to-be is 26-year-old Sarah Austin, a Mill Valley native, who claims to be the Internet’s very first “life-caster,” web-casting her “every move for the world to see,” if they care to do so. Young Miss Austin does social media for the Four Seasons Hotel in exchange for living in its Palo Alto property free of charge.

Then there’s Ben and Hermione Way, 32- and 27-years-old respectively, a sister and brother team hailing all the way from London, England. They’ve started up a company they call Ignite Wellness, a personal health tracking system that includes both a web app and a physical device that integrates with smart phones.

The biggest impediment to their success may be Hermione’s beef with Sarah, who has life-casted her recent hook-up with Hermione’s bro.

Now, I imagine there are some young people outside of California who have watched an episode of “Start-Ups” and concluded that the Golden State is the place they ought to be. That opportunity abounds, that fortunes are to be made by those who have a dream and the drive to pursue it.

Like the hot young cast of “Start-Ups.”


But here’s a reality check for the kids out there thinking of relocating to California to go to college or to find work: All that glitters is not Golden.

Indeed, more than a quarter-million of the state’s 20-something-year-old college grads are currently toiling in menial jobs, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data. Those jobs include food service, retail sales and personal services.

In fact, the number of recent college grads here in California working as waiters nearly doubled between 2006 and 2011, the Sacramento Bee reported. The same goes for college grads laboring as retail sales clerks.

The woeful state job market for young college grads has had a negative trickle down effect on young non-college grads. Because those with UC and CSU diplomas are now competing for low-level, menial work, those lacking a college pedigree are being crowded out of the job market.

I’d like to believe that job prospects will improve next year — or the next two years — to  the point that those quarter-million 20-something-year-old college grads can stop waiting tables at California Pizza Kitchen or selling straight leg jeans at the Gap and find proper work that will help them pay off the student loan debt they have amassed.

But I just don’t see that happening anytime soon given the sky-high cost of doing business in California, which will get higher still under the state’s tax-and-spend (and regulate) governor and state Legislature, and which poses tremendous disincentive for companies to grow their workforce here in the Golden State.

So while the future may be bright for a precious few young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, for many of California’s young and college-educated, post-graduate menial work is the new normal.

Tags assigned to this article:
unemploymentjobsJoseph PerkinsSilicon Valley

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