On a sunny day last May, the newly-minted graduates tossed their tasselled caps in the air with whoops and hollers. With that, my daughter Laurie and the other members of the Class of 2011 closed one door and turned expectantly toward another. What was on the other side? For some, the promise of a job or graduate school.
For others, the door creakily hinged shut, putting new beginnings tantalizingly out of reach.
The members of the Class of 2011 had been raised to believe that they could do anything with a college degree. Follow your dreams, we parents told them. The world is your oyster. With that diploma you will have opportunities galore.
The economy of 2011 told them something else.
The misery of finding a job in a sluggish economy was a lesson in Real Life 101. Item #1 on the syllabus: there aren’t a lot of jobs out there. Item #2: you’re one of a gazillion vying for the jobs that are. Item #3: get used to trying your hardest and coming up empty. Get used to not having your calls returned. Get used to waiting.
Being the highly organized person she is, Laurie started her search months before graduation. She sent out countless resumes. Checked job websites daily. Spent hours researching, reaching out to friends of friends whose cousin’s neighbor worked somewhere where they were hiring. And I won’t tell you that nothing, absolutely nothing came of it.
There were some
clunkers offers along the way. Yet despite being in the throes of anxiety, Laurie trusted her instincts and was wary.
For example, she encountered:
* a “marketing/advertising” company whose website boasted its rapid growth, multiple office locations and plans for further expansion. She was interviewed for a marketing associate position. Sounded perfect, too good to be true. And it was. At the end of a long day of interviews, she was told she would be selling the services of a utility company. Door-to-door. In questionable urban neighborhoods. No salary, just commission. And no benefits. Um, no.
* a well-known international finance corporation that invited her to interview for a financial analyst position. The first interviews went well and she got called back. In the course of the second round, she was pressed to reveal her family’s financial circumstances, what neighborhoods her relatives and friends called home, which prominent families were in her circle from high school and college, etc. Noooo, thank you.
* an insurance company with locations throughout the country that offered her a position right on the spot. What was the catch? Again, no base salary. Strictly commission. :sound of buzzer:
Her dogged pursuit meant hours each day browsing new openings, following up with emails and phone calls, and continuing to network every which way. She tried to be positive, but sometimes it just got to be too much. The waiting was awful and it really sucked to be back at home, living with her parents, as if college had never happened. Thank goodness for friends like Cassandra who freely dispensed encouragement and hugs.
But I am happy to tell you that her persistence paid off. After many months and many interviews, she was offered the job she had wanted more than anything, in the city she wanted to live in. In the end it worked out exactly the way she had dreamed.
To the recent grads, and even not-so-recent, who have yet to land a job: hang in there. May 2012 will be a year of recovery, healing and promise. My CNN email alert just announced that the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in December with the unemployment rate falling slightly. Believe in yourself, and believe in your future. Your college education was worth it. And the best is yet to come.