With news that only 50 percent of college graduates are actually getting jobs after graduation (the dreaded G-word I don’t like talking about), it’s seemingly more and more difficult to be positive about graduation. As one of my friends advised me, “Don’t ever graduate.” It’s pretty easy to look down on the chances of being employed after graduation.
It comes with no difficulty to be so pessimistic when our generation (the Millenials as they call it–people who have been born from 1982 to 2003) has grown up in relative privilege, coddled and protected by our parents who just want the best for us.
Now college graduates are facing dismal prospects upon matriculation, our parents’ affluence becoming a mirage in the Sahara Desert, an unattainable and lofty goal that we will never reach.
Overqualified college graduates have had to take minimum wage jobs just to scrape by, all the while trying not to collapse under the crushing weight of student loans, which have reached an astounding total of $900 billion, according to a recent USA Today article.
I’ve also heard of some parents who have tried pushing their graduates out the door, pinning laziness as being the reason why their sons and daughters haven’t been able to get jobs yet. Parents need to be reminded that the job market is a whole different dragon to slay in this current economic downturn than it was in their generation.
Now it’s taking six months, eight months, or more than a year to get a job, and while it seems as though college graduates are freeloading off their parents, I think most of us (at least the responsible ones) would like to taste the freedom of not being tied down.
Another issue is that employers are looking for people in a particular field that already have job experience. Well, for a person who is just trying to get their foot in the door, they need to be hired by someone with the understanding that the grad’s employment is going to be their first chance at real world experience. It seems as though employers already expect that graduates will have job experience, but we need to be given the opportunity first.
While emphasis is placed on getting internships, at least in my experience, it’s easier said than done. For businesses and employers who require graduates to receive academic credit, it’s a costly price to pay. For instance, according to keene.edu, it’s $480.00 per credit hour over the summer for an out-of-state student. Students need to pay a lot of money in order to have an unpaid internship which may not even pay off in the long run. I would prefer a paid internship (at the bottom of the barrel minimum wage rate) instead of what sounds eerily like indentured servitude. For some of us, internships for academic credit aren’t a feasible option.
So the problem is right up in front of us, especially us seniors who are about to graduate, so what do we do about the problem? It seems as though the only solution is to keep our heads up. Even though things are looking pretty poor, we need to at least believe we have a chance to get out into the real world and make something of ourselves. College graduates seem to be fighting through the trenches, but maybe this is our generation’s cross to bear before the light at the end of the tunnel.
Another thing college students should remind themselves of is to be proactive. We can’t just sit around and blame everybody else for our problems, and we can’t play the role of the victim. Don’t expect to begin job searching a week before graduation and land a job. Start now.
In addition, not being afraid of putting yourself out there is a difficult challenge to overcome. I’m still trying to do that myself, but gaining some confidence and being able to talk and network with people in a professional field will help.
You’ll miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t make. I’m learning to understand the cliche, and so should you.
My point is we can’t exactly change the state of a volatile and unstable job market, but at the very least we can change our attitudes and pessimism about getting a job, and we can also be more proactive, outgoing, and fearless about finding one.
While it may take college graduates a little longer to find a job than our parents, eventually, something will come along. We just have to trust in ourselves and have a little faith it will all work out, despite the obstacles we face.
Whitney Cyr can be contacted at