Recently, I read the article “In Weak Job Market, One In Two College Graduates Are Jobless Or Underemployed” on the Huffington Post and realized I had so much in common with one of the graduates profiled. We both graduated in 2010 with Creative Writing degrees—what a coinky-dink!
Unfortunately, that is where the commonalities ended because that graduate works as a barista and lives with his parents who pay for his student loans. While I didn’t think it was fortunate at the time, I worked full-time while it took me well over five years to earn my degree. When I graduated from college, I had a job, but needed a higher paying job to pay for my student loans (which I was fortunate enough to find).
What the article did not address was the possibilities that do exist for recent graduates. Instead of a lack of opportunities for college graduates, there is a lack of imagination, drive, and humility. Here are some of the opportunities that graduates do not seem to be fully taking advantage of :
- Volunteer at a school or non-profit organization. While schools are facing funding cuts, there are college graduates who are either unemployed or underemployed who could donate their available time to either tutor students or help lighten the load on teachers. Non-profits are also experiencing reduced funding and could use educated volunteers who may be able to provide current technical expertise.
- Intern at a company you’re interested in for free. Because you are volunteering free labor, you can present the company with a self-defined internship proposal. While you determine your goals or objectives, the company might specify the job functions or a person for you to shadow to accomplish your goals. While an actual job might not be readily available, a job might be available in the future. Even if not, you gain experience and insight as to whether this is the career you really want. I proposed such an internship at an early job and was able to learn about another position and realize it wasn’t really what I wanted in the end.
- AmeriCorp service. After I read the Huffington Post article, I went to the AmeriCorp website and found service opportunities for people with writing/editing skills in my own state and Washington (where are fair barista resides). What’s wonderful about AmeriCorp is that the possibility exists to obtain experience while possibly being paid and having the program pay some of your existing student loans once your service is complete (full list of benefits).
- Active or Reserve Military service. When I graduated in 2010, the job I had intended to apply for disappeared, yet on multiple job listing websites, I saw writing and editing positions in the Navy. As I was sending off my first resumes, I kept the knowledge of that Navy opportunity in my mental back pocket. I never ruled the idea out, but was only unsure because the information about the position wasn’t very specific. My point is that the military does have an unfathomable variety of skilled positions that are not investigated fully. Also, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave a speech at Duke University expressing the need for college students to consider military service to add to the variety of ideas affecting decision making (a copy of the speech at the Dept. of Defense website).
With imagination and drive recent college graduates, can create their own opportunities to make themselves more employable once there are more jobs. Also recent graduates need humility and cannot feel entitled to their dream jobs that naturally pay comfortably middle class wages. A college education does not equal experience or mean you will be a competent, hardworking employee, so you have to work up to “competent, hardworking employee” wages. Working one’s way up to a position is now considered a quaint idea from the distant past, but it is worthwhile for companies and employees, alike.
Now that the Wizard has given you such wonderous insight, take your resume and transcript copy and click your heals three times (avoid wearing ruby slippers—nobody wants to hire a nut).
Guten nacht and guten gluck!