Thursday, May 25, 2006

Do these new college grads think they're in France?

The New York Post had an article Monday on new college graduates' woes in finding that first job:
ONLY about a week ago, Washington Square Park was littered with giddy NYU graduates giving each other high-fives, brandishing diplomas and jumping into the fountain.

So what's become of this lot?

At this moment, an inordinate number of them can be found sitting on their parents' couches watching "Tyra," eating Cheetos - and drying their tears.

"I've been crying every day," says [name redacted at her request], a 22-year-old who just graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.

"It's just been really intense, between graduating college and trying to find a job. I just want to be happy and find something I can enjoy doing!"


Unfortunately, that's easier said than done.

In the last month, Murphy has sent out 30 resumes. The only response she received was from "Cruella DeVil's mean sister" - a publicist who told her she needed to do more research about the field before deigning to apply for a p.r. job.

"When I hung up the phone, I looked down, and I'd broken out into hives."
Do you hear it? Do you?

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Could anyone feel less for her than I do? By sending out a mere 30 resumes a month (one a day), she thinks she can find a job she'll enjoy doing, with the implicit requirement that it pay enough and be strictly 9 to 5. She's fortunate that someone replied, "Look, you don't know anything about the industry. Good grades and showing energy aren't enough. Do your homework if you expect to impress someone enough to land a job." That person did her a favor.

Note that the reporter used "deigning," which many people tend to misuse. The word involves condescension. However, if that's the attitude the recent grad shows, that she's "deigning" to apply for those jobs, then it's no wonder only one out of 30 bothered to reply.

Welcome to the real world, kids. This is the United States of America, not France. In this country, you're not just expected to work hard, but with smarts and resourcefulness. Above all, you will learn humility, especially when you realize you won't get paid what you think you're worth. It's called supply and demand: you're not as indispensable as you think you are, and even if you're really good, odds are that you are not the company's only option.

As part of this post, I wrote about Americans having very high opportunity costs, so high that they won't take any job they can. They don't need to. In one way that's very good, because it indicates our wealth (in this case, the wealth of the graduates' parents, and their willingness to let them continue living at home). In another way that's deplorable, because so many young Americans are spoiled. They graduate from good schools with lots of book smarts, but nobody ever told them how to get a job: how to apply for every possibility advertised in the newspapers, the usefulness of headhunter agencies, how to interview, even how to write a resume. Worse, recent grads think that they can land a good job right away.

When my father graduated from high school in 1936, he went to work. He was fortunate and found a job in a mailroom, which was cleaner and less physically demanding than alternatives. After serving five years in the Army during World War II, he went to Bentley for a couple of years, got a certificate, then returned to Schenectady and got a traveling auditor position with General Electric. But the important thing is that when he finished high school, he was willing to take any job he could. More than once in my life, I've been guilty of laziness, or as I justified it, "waiting for the right job so I don't waste time elsewhere."

I got bored and dropped out of college after a couple of years. After working for five years and gaining real world experience, I went back to finish my degree. Though I learned a lot of painful lessons, they still had less pain than had I graduated in four or five years with no idea what the real world is like. I've had good and bad jobs, and right now I consider myself really God-blessed to be in the best job I've ever had. Today was a little rough, since I had to work through lunch and then very late. A massive project came up this morning, and it had to be done by the time I left, so my regular 9 to 5 wasn't possible today. But hey, that goes with the territory.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Matthew said...

What are these kids doing "sitting on their parents' couches". When I graduated college in 2004, my parents were kind enough to let me borrow their car. I then had a full-time (40+ hours a week) job. In the morning I would check my email, and all the job related websites for jobs. After that it was in the car until dinner time: knocking on doors, passing out resumes, going to job fairs, trying to get past the HR person to talk to a manager. And after 5 pm it was back to the computer searching for jobs.
Now granted in 2004 we were just out of the recession so jobs may have been a little tougher, but it took me 2 1/2 months to get a job.

I have no respect for some kid who is "sitting on their parents' couches" waiting for life to shower them with fame and fortune.

Friday, May 26, 2006 1:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Warbiany said...

I've always been a fan of Neal Boortz, and this quote sums it up:

Speaking of earning, the revered 40-hour workweek is for losers. Forty hours should be considered the minimum, not the maximum. You don't see highly successful people clocking out of the office every afternoon at five. The losers are the ones caught up in that afternoon rush hour. The winners drive home in the dark.

Sunday, May 28, 2006 9:15:00 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Agreed about the 40 hour workweek...my landscaping job is 50 hours a week minimum, and I'm the only summer employee...everyone else there does this for a living.

What I want to know is why she waited until she graduated to start looking for a job. I dunno what it's like elsewhere, but at ISU they've already started talking to us as freshmen about necessary qualifications (like work experience, internships, etc) and necessary skills (basically what you talked about) to get a job. As freshmen. The idea is that you hopefully at least have several good prospects by the time you graduate.

Sunday, May 28, 2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger TKC said...

Sitting on the couch? Awwww, poor you.
I could tell ya about some of the crappy jobs I took.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 8:05:00 PM  
Blogger TKC said...

I just hit Washington Post jobs for Public Relations, college degree, full time day shifts and got 250 hits.

Somebody needs to put out more resumes.

I haven't put in mine for a while. I'll be back.... 83 hits.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 8:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, August 17, 2006 3:19:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thursday, August 17, 2006 7:35:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

Note to my readers: Ms. Murphy left this comment on 8/17/2006 @ 3:19 p.m.:

Hello, I am the very same [name redacted at her request] from the Post article you've reference above (which I had actually never had a chance to read, so thanks for the link!) Just to clear some things up: I never sat on my parents couch - I actually haven't been home since graduation. I found a job about a week after this interview was given - the very first job I was offered - and while it's not exactly a dream, it's pretty decent for entry-level. And so life chuggs on...
I must add, dear blogger, that unlike you I was never bored with school. From pre-school to prep school, classes have always sort of been my "thing". Nothing makes me more excited than the smell of freshly sharpened pencils... Perhaps that may help explain the water works as depicted in the Post. Graduation, while a triumph, was also a very sad day for me. I hope you will be pleased to know that all is well, and I have not shed a single tear since turning in my purple cap and gown.
I hope this may soften your image of me but if not, as the French say, "tant pis".


She's since asked me to remove her name; apparently my blog entry is coming up in all these Google searches. She left her full name in her comment, which I'm reposting with her name redacted.

Sunday, November 09, 2008 8:22:00 AM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

And I made a reply at 7:35 p.m. the same day:

[name redacted] the "boredom" difference between you and me is that I wanted to get out in the real world and DO SOMETHING. When I was your age, I was already coping with having made some big screwups, which were nonetheless valuable lessons. It's better that I suffered rather than my future children, who hopefully will learn from what I will teach them.

School is fine when you're actually learning, but the American education system is so dumbed down that many students waste months, if not years of their lives. But you apparently loved school life, so didn't you just ask mommy and daddy to pay for your graduate classes, preferably so you can teach? It doesn't sound like you're motivated enough to deal with the real world. Maybe you're just young. I was too, once.

You finally got a job, but you jumped at your first chance. What if you had worked a bit harder, researched the industry more, and sent out a couple hundred resumes in that month? Perhaps you'd have gotten a better job -- perhaps your PICK of a few offers. The job market today is far different than two years ago. I'm actually working for a firm that I applied to at this time in August 2006, but the lone opening for an old job in White Plains was given to someone internally. Who'd have guessed that, 13 months later, I'd be working at the firm's global headquarters in Manhattan, in a relatively new position?

Why didn't you bother to find the article? Anytime I've been interviewed, usually an e-mail solicitation that turns into a phone call, I always check the article to see if the fellow actually used me. Never mind any puerile excitement over your name in print, since such fame is the most fleeting: make sure you weren't misquoted or misrepresented! If in fact you weren't crying, you have a serious complaint against the reporter.

As a red-blooded American, I say to any frog that wants to make a verbal shrug at me, "You can kiss our asses thank-you for Normandy." And what has France turned into, except the NEW "sick man of Europe"? At least Berlin through Vichy would have kept that shitty little country economically productive.

Sunday, November 09, 2008 8:25:00 AM  

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