MPIPersona Project
Frank Leung / iStock

Brett

Portrait of Brett
Age
40
Race
White
Hometown
Fort Collins, Colorado
Now lives
Maple Valley, Washington
Job Title
Production Supervisor
Income
$80,000
Education
BA (Business), Master's (In Progress)
Group
Routine Traded
Occupation
Production
Industry
Lighting & Electrical
Artifact: Football

Artifact: Football

Sometimes all the pressure is stressful. I watch football games — I think it’s a way to put your problems aside for a little bit. I’m a big Broncos fan and don’t miss any of their games. We have football parties; I think it’s a way for my friends and I to do some bonding a few hours a week. Football also reminds me of my family, because we used to go to Colorado State games. When I got this job in Washington, it was a quick turnaround. They said, “You got the job and we need you here in 2 weeks. We’ll see you right after Christmas.” So, we left quickly and, with a family of five, it’s difficult to go back home. We don’t get home as much as we want.

Nimble self-starter, focused on his next move
“When things slowed down in 2008, you were trapped more than anything. You had a lifestyle you were accustomed to, at a higher income level, which was diminishing quickly.”

Work

I’ve always considered myself a business guy; I like the different aspects of business and I loved running my own business. Prior to this job, I was in real estate marketing. But after the crash in 2008, I realized that I needed to go find a job and education is important for that. So, I ended up going back to school and have kept going since.

school hallway with lockers ChristopherSobieniak/EyeEm

Education

Education has definitely opened doors for me. My experience got me into a supervisory role, but I knew the next step required a degree. That’s why I sacrificed to go back. On top of my full-time job, I’m studying for my master’s degree as well. I pretty much do school when I can. It’s mostly after work, so it means that I’m missing out on soccer practices and going to the zoo. But at the same time, it’s rewarding because I know I’m progressing and I’m doing what I want to do.

“After the crash in 2008, I realized that I needed to go find a job and education is important for that. So, I ended up going back to school and have kept going since.”

Work

I’m glad I got this job. Over the last few years, you were fighting to stay employed and wondering if you were going to be laid off. I had transitioned from real estate into manufacturing back in Colorado. When I was laid off from the manufacturing job, the job market was really just non-existent and I didn’t want to go back into real estate again. I think the job market’s very competitive; if you become complacent or aren’t constantly learning, you can definitely fall through the cracks. Over the past few years, I’ve become more aware of market trends and I look for signals of what could create the next collapse or boom. It’s definitely changed the way I plan and spend my money. I have a 2003 Expedition that’s paid off and still runs. We would love to replace it — it has 175,000 miles — but we’re a bit more reserved on going out and getting another large car payment because there’s that constant feeling that companies do lay-offs all the time.

Nimble self-starter, focused on his next move
“When things slowed down in 2008, you were trapped more than anything. You had a lifestyle you were accustomed to, at a higher income level, which was diminishing quickly.”
Newspaper article about Financial crash of 2008 Norman Chan/Shutterstock.com

Politics | Government

I’m a registered Democrat, and I did vote for Obama last time. But I’ve been registered as a Republican too; I sway on different party lines. When I think about the economy and government, I think the President doesn’t have much power as far as an economic voice. What I look at more is what the Fed is doing — if they change the interest rates, there’s going to be an impact.

“I’ve become more aware of market trends and I look for signals of what could create the next collapse or boom. It’s definitely changed the way I plan and spend my money.”

Government

This country used to work together to get things done. There was a lot of patriotism growing up, especially in the ’80s with the Red Scare. You just don’t see that anymore. I think we’ve lost trust in politicians — it doesn’t really matter who you vote for, it’s just going to be the same. One thing that matters to my wife and I, on a local level, is school safety. When we first moved to Washington, there weren’t any safety checks for parents at the school. Parents could go in and out the front door. My wife is in real estate but volunteers almost every day in the school. She’s been a big advocate for safety and got the school a new check-in system. It’s just about paying attention. It’s rewarding to get involved and we feel like we’re making a difference. I know it wasn’t just us, but we feel like we were a part of helping make that happen.

Family on a beach, enjoying the sunset Tomwang112/iStock

America

All in all, I’m pretty happy. There’s always going to be good and bad. I owned my own business. Now I don’t. When things went bad, I was able to shift to project management. We wanted to live in different areas and we were able to do that. We have three great kids. We can travel. The American Dream is the pursuit of happiness. It’s the pursuit of being your own person. It’s the pursuit of basically anything you want to do. I do still believe in it. I think it takes a little bit more work than it used to. But I think I’m living the American Dream.

“I think we’ve lost trust in politicians — it doesn’t really matter who you vote for, it’s just going to be the same.”
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