Nov3020092:33 pm

Reality check: are the jobs out there?

An Andrew Sullivan reader is having a rough time finding that first job out of college:

I’ve only had five cumulative months of employment since, this in spite of a “practical” degree (economics) from a “good” school (East Coast whatever – if my situation is any indication, an Ivy degree doesn’t mean jackshit). Friends of mine with relatively less worldly degrees in many cases have not been able to find a job at all in over a year. And it is not that we’re just sitting on our asses, playing video games because we think we’re above a certain kind of work – this high-handed claptrap is perhaps the most irritating snobbery of so-called “experts”, of a piece with their stellar market analysis over the last decade. No, when we say we can’t get a job, we mean we can’t get any job.

Certainly white-collar jobs, those that we thought we were being prepared for, are so few and far between that they’ve become the stuff of lore, a mythical entity. When someone manages to snag one of those these days it’s treated like a fucking miracle, complete with celebration and deepest envy both. This just for a job! Not two years ago a job was practically a birthright, plentiful and in season; now it’s something to forage and kill for. But we’re having to compete now for jobs that anyone can do – which makes it that much harder to get them as well. Temp agencies mostly turn us away. Shit, even the damned Safeway near me isn’t hiring. I’m perfectly content to bag groceries or wash cars or do construction, but there isn’t a scrap of work to be had.

If all that sounds unbelievable, then you just don’t know what it’s like right now for young, inexperienced people whose first taste of the labor market has been one of closed doors and pounded pavement and steadily increasing panic. At the moment I do have a part-time temp job and I’m grateful for it, but I don’t know how long it’ll last. Every time a superior passes my desk I quake because he or she could be coming to give me the axe – this is how we fortunate employed spend our days, adrenaline-riddled and constantly on tenterhooks. I don’t have health insurance. I’m engulfed in student loans.

How does this compare with your experiences? Are recent college graduates looking for work in international education, exchange, and development having this much trouble? Is the white-collar job in international affairs out there to be had, or rather a “mythical entity”?

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One Response to “Reality check: are the jobs out there?”

  1. Michelle says:

    My sister graduated this past May with a degree in Business from a New York City public college. She got a summer job with a New York non-profit that provides summer and after-school programs for elementary aged children. She worked all summer and then they offered her a position with them set to begin in January. From August until now, she’s been unable to get any sort of job, be it temp or babysitting or blue collar. Her friends currently have part-time jobs. More recently, she found out that her new job (in HR) will be combined with an on-site job as a supervisor. I’m not sure if her salary will reflect the additional responsibilities but this is definitely a sign that the company is trying to resist hiring more people.

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