The Brooklyn Ink has done another noteworthy piece this week as part of their series on Brooklyn’s unemployed. This time around, they looked at the difficulties faced by 30-year-old Bensonhurst native Michael Gargiulo, who in recent years has had trouble finding steady work in the television industry.
Gargiulo, who currently lives in Bay Ridge, was pleased when MTV Networks, where he had worked as an intern during college, offered him a job as a producer right out of school.
Psyched, Gargiulo was soon able to move out of his parents’ home in Bensonhurst and into an apartment. He went on to work on shows like Teen Cribs, Top 20 Video Countdown, VH1 News, MADE, and Undateable. He traveled regularly and attended graduate school with MTV footing the bill.
“There were no worries,” Gargiulo told Brooklyn Ink.
After briefly working for another, smaller company in 2007, he went back to MTV but only worked on one show before being laid off the following May.
Gargiulo looked forward to his unemployment at first, seeing it as a chance to get in shape at the gym and relax. After having a job for the entire five years since he graduated college, he was certain he would find work soon.
In August 2008, he was expecting to hear from producers he had previously worked with regarding a new position. Unfortunately, that phone call never came.
From Brooklyn Ink:
“Nothing came in,” Gargiulo said. “I started worrying. My emails were either not getting returned or [companies] said there were no shows going into production.”
He did freelance work, but stopped because he did not want to lose his unemployment checks and benefits, which just got him by. “That check was not really cutting it,” he said. “The toll it takes on you emotionally is catastrophic, and you don’t get a check for that every week.”
It was a new and disturbing experience. He had grown up in a middle class family. His mother works as a medical receptionist; his father held a good paying job as a post office worker for 30 years and is now retired with a pension. He expected his good education and work habits to ensure the same kind of middle class stability.
His unemployment then began to effect his personal life. Hanging out with his friends – including his girlfriend Emily Streeter, a 28-year-old NYC public school teacher – the conversation would often turn to work, which was becoming depressing for Gargiulo to hear.
In September of 2010, after being without work for a year, he began working outside of his field as a job developer, helping recently released convicts find work. Although he made less than half than what he did at MTV, he stayed.
During this time he proposed to Emily, and they moved in together, sharing the cost of a $1,200 a month apartment.
Seeing layoffs on the horizon as his new employer began to cut staff, he left the job development firm and has since found temporary work in television. Gargiulo, who has been unable to locate a permanent position, is worried about finding something before his July wedding, but remains optimistic that things will work out.
“I’m done with pessimism. I tried that for a year,” Gargiulo told Brooklyn Ink. “I have to be optimistic.”