Felony on your record? No problem!

Follow hipsters to where your neck tattoos (or criminal past) don't matter

No office job? No problem!
  • No office job? No problem!

Dear Hipster:

I’m a U.S. citizen who has a felony on my record and a bachelor’s degree on my résumé. I am afraid to get a job or need help with job placement, but I am afraid to because of this charge. Is there any hope for me because I have a felony, or am I paranoid? Is there references for this, or will I not work for the rest of my life? Any input would be helpful to me and my family.

Andrew Randhawa

Methinks I recognize you from a Blog Diego feature. Welcome back, “bipolar blogger who looks on the bright side.” Are you sure you want career advice from a professional smartass? I’m either the best or the worst person to ask about jobs — even I’m not sure which — not to mention that there must be any number of social workers more qualified than I to help you navigate the quirks of felonhood.

Now, having almost completely undercut my own authority in the matter, let me say that we, the collective hipster community, have your back.

I can only speak of impressions made from my own experiences as a high-grade hipster living a hipster life, and I certainly can’t speak for the mainstreamers, but within hipster-dominated business sectors, a felony criminal record need not constitute the scarlet letter it signifies in some industries. You could say the same thing about knuckle tattoos, ear gauges, and outward displays of non-mainstream lifestyles. All those things, which might unofficially disqualify you from a job at the average insurance agency, could actually be assets if you’re trying to score the coveted position of apprentice furnace stoker at a glassblowing firm set to supply apothecary chic faux-vintage bottles for the cold-brew coffee trade.

Certain realms once considered last resorts for the otherwise unemployable (convicted felons notwithstanding) have gained much cultural cachet following their embrasure by the hipster generation. Working the overnight shift in a 24-hour diner is actually kind of cool rather than the best job some people could hope for.

A big reason so many hipsters have been drawn to unconventional fields of work and study is that they feel like outsiders who don’t fit into mainstream workplaces and social circles. I don’t mean to equate not wanting to wear a tie with carrying a criminal record, but let it suffice to say that hipsters ought to be the last people to pass judgment on life choices, however poor or unfortunate they may have been.

Had you asked, “Am I going to face difficulties because of my history?” I would say, “Most likely, yes.” But it’s not automatically the end of your world, and if you’re able to expand your horizons beyond doom, gloom, and resignation, you’ll find a place for yourself. You’re just not going to be joining the FBI anytime soon. No shrimp and fries to go for you, Johnny Utah.

At the very least, take heart in the fact that you can probably earn more cash in a year as a bartender than you could in numerous low-level professional jobs, and the hipster doing the interviewing is a lot less likely to care about your felony than he is about your knowledge of craft beer.

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