I’m 22 years old and I’ve been an official college graduate for 3 months now. I am incredibly lucky to have a found a company willing to take a chance on me and employ me knowing my unusual situation. But what kills me is knowing that I am only one lucky duck out of so many recent grads who are without the kind of job that they just spent upwards of $60,000 to secure. And what kills me more is remembering the brief taste I had of unemployment and the terrifying side effects that come with that after I graduated. Of course I had decided I wanted to further my education by relocating to London and pursuing an MBA in International Business…but when my plans fell through I was stuck. I had a lot of bills and no income. And it wasn’t like I wasn’t putting myself out there- I was. Oh god, I was. In fact, at this point, there are probably some companies out there that have my email blocked. But what bothers me most about all of this is all the time and energy we are now required to put forth in order to even hope to have a well paying job come graduation.
Sure, college is great and you’ll never hear me complaining about having the opportunity to not only go to college but to experience several different things while there- but what about the people who aren’t lucky like me? How can we possibly expect them to be okay with starting out their professional lives with upwards of $60,000 in loans? If they want to have a successful career, they find a way. But then they make it to college and have 16+ hours of classwork plus a part-time OR full-time job in order to cover life’s expenses. This is enough work for any of us to lose a lot of sleep and gray a lot of hairs. But this isn’t even considered enough. It’s no longer enough to have a college degree; you better graduate with some experience too. And that experience is a minimum of 15 hours a week internship where it’s common practices to not receive any payment. You can most likely receive college credit but it means less time dedicated to a job that pays you to a job that will hopefully pay off in the future.
I have to clarify that it’s pretty conflicting for me to complain about the way this system works as I was…I AM…that girl. I had 3 internships in college; worked on the student run firm- I dedicated basically all my time to furthering my career. Yet there I was, a college grad, with no job. How many others are out there with the same problem right now? They paid the money, they earned their degree, they worked their way through college and still made top grades and yet they aren’t getting hired for lack of experience.
How much experience is now required for entry-level jobs? How can we, as brand new college graduates, be expected to possess the skills a company is looking for if they refuse to give us a chance to learn them?
And don’t even get me started on the criticism that haunts so many of us in my generation who want to follow their dreams in college. Maybe they want to study theatre, maybe they want to study art, maybe they want to move abroad…whatever it is, they want to dedicate four years to their passion yet they are met with criticism because they won’t be able to find a job. But some of us, who dedicate four years to something we find mildly interesting aren’t finding jobs either.
So why not spend your time and money exploring your passion?
I wish schooling wasn’t so much about the bottom line and more about finding out who you are. More about finding what makes us come alive.
I know I may be naïve but I refuse to believe that I can’t make a living and love my job, too.
So here it is to all of us struggling to find our path in life, struggling to pay off our loans, struggling to find a job- find comfort in the fact that we’re in this together.