I am 24 years old. I have a BA in Public Relations/Communications. I am one hard working SOB. And I am vastly underpaid in a job I really don’t even enjoy. Ladies and gentleman, I am a hefty majority of college 20-something year olds in this country. Remember when we were told our whole lives that if you stay in school and get an education, you will someday get the job you want and make great money? The problem with the advice is…It is outdated, and I mean waaaay outdated. I know when my parents were my age a college degree was something that made you stand out and placed you on a higher level, but these days it just seems like earning a degree just keeps you up to speed with the rest of the young adults out there.
Just to set the record straight, I am not saying that you should not get your college degree. In fact, I still believe it is an important thing to have, despite its loss in prestige. I am saying however, that do not expect the world in your hands just because you have earned one. There is still a long and traitorous road ahead of you. There are some factors that weigh in heavily on the why young graduates struggle to find jobs they deserve. One of these factors being that companies are being too picky when selecting candidates for entry level positions.
I know those who are starting to apply are noticing that way too much experience is needed for entry level positions. You may be turned down by a company because they hired someone with more experience. Here is my question. HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO GAIN EXPERIENCE, WHEN WE CAN’T GET A JOB THAT WILL GIVE US EXPERIENCE? It is a vicious circle. Can’t get a job because you lack experience, and you lack experience because you can’t get a job.
I feel like companies are looking for the perfect intern or entry level candidate. My message to all companies out there hiring, put the experience aspect to the side for a second and focus more on the content of the actual interview. If I had a dollar for every interviewer that said, “Your interview went really well, but we chose someone with more experience.” I mean, how much experience do you want for an entry level job? Most likely companies are choosing someone with experience for an entry level job and now that person is overqualified and underpaid.
Now most of you are thinking internships will give you the experience needed for entry level positions. However, I am hearing too many stories about people taking on multiple internships and still searching hopelessly for a career. A very good friend of mine graduated from a really good business school, a year early in fact, and after multiple internships was forced to join the NYPD police academy as a result not being able to secure a career in his field. He is not the only one I know who has turned to civil service for work after trying to do something with their degree. Personally I have done 3 internships, and still no luck. In my opinion, not enough companies are training and teaching their interns to someday be a full time part of their company.
So I will end my rant with advice to my fellow 20-somethings and future graduates heading into the real world. Continue to work your butt off and earn that degree, and be proud when you accomplish it. There is no greater feeling of accomplishment in your young life than earning a college degree. Trust me. However I want you to keep in mind the things that I have said. Do not expect instant job security after graduation. You will have to work even harder than you did in school to find a job. Do not ever give up, no matter how disheartening and demeaning it may be. You are good enough to get the job you desire and deserve. Do not ever settle for less because you are the future of this country and you worked hard for it to be that way. Keep your chin up and your spirits high. And when you hear the older generations tell you “stay in school and get a good job so you can be successful,” just know that even it may not be that easy anymore, it doesn’t mean you still don’t deserve it.