Monday, June 28, 2010
Oh, Happy Graduate!
By Alan Caruba
Life was much simpler for a young man graduating in the late 1950s. If he was classified 1-A in the Draft, he could look forward to two years in the military before even contemplating a career.
I had acquired a head full of Arts and Sciences mush over four wonderful years at the University of Miami (FL). It was still a comparatively young institution at the time and, if you had a pulse, you were guaranteed acceptance. There were lots of palm trees, dinner dances, a colorful collection of faculty, and even classes to attend if you were actually inclined to learn anything.
I noticed that almost nothing I had learned had any application to the real world beyond the edges of the campus. The U.S. Army did not care. They found in me a splendid specimen of young manhood they could fashion into a fearsome warrior. But first I had to learn how to make my bed, fold my t-shirts, march, and, best of all, to shoot an M-1, handheld, gas-operated, clip-fed, semi-automatic rifle.
It never crossed my mind that I might actually have to go to war somewhere and, lucky me, I never did. My departure from the U.S. Army was delayed by an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between President Kennedy and Russian Premier Nikita Krushchev over some missiles in Cuba. As soon as they were removed I was informed I could go home.
My first job was with a human relations organization that sent me back to my beloved Miami, but by the time Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, I concluded that I had no interest in such matters. Returning home I was fortunate enough to be employed by a weekly newspaper, whereupon my real education began.
Suffice to say that jobs were plentiful in the 1960s. The nation was going to send a man to the Moon, the music was great, few had even heard of Vietnam until Lyndon B. Johnson decided to ratchet up a full-blown war there. He was also busy with a “War on Poverty” that did nothing to relieve poverty, but put a lot of lazy people on the dole, ensuring Democrat votes. That’s how it was done then. That’s how it’s done now.
I can’t imagine what it is like to be a twenty-year-old graduating from a college or university these days. They are emerging into the Great Recession and the job scene is grim.
According to a recent ABC News report, “The unemployment rate among young Americans, age 16 to 24, now stands at 18.9 percent. And while that number includes workers with only high school diplomas—-who have a hard time finding work even in good times-—there’s no getting around the mountainous challenge it represents.”
CNN Money.com reports that “This year has been extremely rough. New college graduates had forty percent fewer job prospects, a new report shows. And the outlook for 2010, while better, is still not promising.”
This is reporter-talk for ‘I have no idea what I am writing about and thank heavens for anonymous reports!’ He dutifully noted that, “Overall, hiring of grads with any degree will decline by two percent, compared to 2009.” Blah, blah, blah.
Truth be told, those with accounting, business administration, management or—-better yet—-computer-related and engineering degrees, are going to be in a stronger position to grab that first job. If you’ve graduated with a degree in statistics, you are golden!
The word on the street is that, if the newly minted graduate has had any kind of working experience, he or she is one up on those who have none. Employers are also seeking good communication and writing skills. The theory, it seems, is that you pretty much can be trained to do anything.
Also expect to be rejected. A lot! Be wary, too, of internships. Remember, everyone else in the office is getting PAID. If you get offered a JOB, take it. A better one is probably not waiting despite your extraordinary resume or unless you graduated summa cum laude.
No doubt recent graduates will get gobs of advice on how to dress, what to say, and how to make a good first impression. They’re not hiring your attire. Employers want to know you really, really, really want to work hard for them!
Lastly, start reading The Wall Street Journal and watching Fox Business News or some comparable business channel. Soon enough you will begin to connect the dots.
You may even figure out that the great leaders of our nation and the world haven’t a clue what they are doing, are in charge of hopelessly bloated engines of government, and are reluctant to get out of the way so that people who actually work for a living can get the economy going again.
That’s why so many nations are broke. That’s why there’s a Great Recession.
© Alan Caruba, 2010