Young Blood

My American Dream


When I graduated from college, I sent my resumé to dozens of employers all over the United States. In time I received a call from a big financial firm in New York City. The very next day, I hopped on a bus at Boston’s South Station and travelled straight to the Big Apple. Bright-eyed and eager, I showed up for the interviews along with about 30 other people. By the third interview, there were only five of us left.

Finally, we were given job offers. I was thrilled beyond thrilled, but when I turned in my documents, the hiring manager said, “You’re not an American citizen?” I explained how I came to America on a student visa and was given a year to obtain full-time work anywhere in the United States, after which I would need to be sponsored. His face fell and so did mine, because I knew what was coming next. “We don’t sponsor foreign workers anymore,” he said. My job offer was rescinded.

Dejected, I walked out of the big fancy office. The next few weeks would play out the same way at countless other firms across the city. Finally, I decided to fly home to Manila. That was in 2008. A few weeks later, Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. I didn’t realize it then, but the start of my career was right smack in the middle of one of America’s worst financial crises.

I remember watching Obama deliver his victory speech from my parents’ bedroom in Quezon City—miles and miles away from where I wanted to be. His whole campaign had revolved around the promise of change. Americans were in tears as they listened to him, hopeful that he would deliver. I remember feeling angry that everything had to collapse right when I was about to jump in. I wanted to blame someone for causing such a bad economy that firms could not afford to hire overseas workers like me. Like the rest of America, I pinned my hopes on Obama because he represented change in so many ways.

The financial crisis was caused by greed, they say—Wall Street greed. From the Madoff scandal to the subprime mortgage controversy, people were pointing fingers at corporate jocks who wanted a quick profit. As an impressionable fresh graduate, I declared I wanted nothing to do with the sleazy financial industry. So what if I was an economics graduate? So what if financial professionals earn a lot of money? These were the types of people who caused the collapse of the American economy. They caused me suffering and I am not about to be one of them. I am not going to compromise my values for a buck.

So I tried TV, where, as journalists, we were habitually bribed by politicians. Then I tried advertising, where we were routinely asked to skirt the law so our products could get more public exposure. And then, I unwittingly found myself in the government, and you know where the government is. I deliberately avoided the financial industry because I was afraid it would compromise my values—and look where it got me.

Four years later, I have come full circle. Obama again ran for president and was reelected. I, on the other hand, am not only in the financial industry: I am actually an advocate of it. I am even raring to go back to school to study it (again). Did I simply get jaded and lose my youthful idealism? Heck, no. I just realized that a greedy person can work as a priest and still manage to be greedy, whereas a morally upright person can be in politics and still uphold his/her morals. In other words, we are who we are regardless of the careers we choose.

I learned this after being uselessly angry at Wall Street for robbing me of my future. I learned this after having my values tested in other industries that I thought were safe havens for the righteous. And I learned this when I took accountability for what is happening in my life rather than faulting some unknown force in the universe.

I blamed someone for snatching my American Dream and hoped Obama would give it back to me, all the while making excuses. What I did not do is accept that I should not have given it up in the first place.

So today feels like a fresh start for me in the industry I never should have feared and hated, because, really, I love it. And who knows where it would lead one day? All I know is that no matter how the global landscape looks in the future, I will never use it as an excuse to not go for my goal.

Michelli Carmel Collado, 26, is a stock trader and writer (www.traderscamp.org). She is a graduate of Boston University (BA, mathematics and economics) and will start working on a master’s degree (economics) at the University of Sydney in March 2013.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=41875

Tags: American dream , Michelli Carmel Collado , opinion , youngblood

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Marketplace