Monday, June 08, 2009

Good Luck, Grads

The chances of landing a decent job are about as good as finding
weapons of mass destruction in the Iraqi desert." --- Will Ferrell,
speaking to Harvard grads, 2003.

Congratulations, 2009 graduates. Let me shower you with a few
feel-good commencement cliches: Today is the first day of the rest of your
life. Live for others, not just yourselves And as you go forth into the world,
always reach for the stars.

So much for the pleasantries. Now, let's get real. The job market
stinks. It's 10 times worse than it was when Will Ferrell spoke.

The best advice I can give you is to prepare yourselves for the
future is to get use to the idea of living with your parents again.

This especially true if you majored in art history, philosophy or
comparitive literature. For you, telemarketing, poultry processing or
roofing await you as career paths. If they're hiring.

Of course, if you're a former beauty queen, you can always get a
job as a TV reporter covering the mayor of Los Angeles. But I advise against
it. It never seems to turn our well.

"Your families are extremely proud of you. You can't imagine the
sense of relief they are experiencing. This would be a most
opportune time to ask for money." --- Gary Bolding

According to a survey from National Association of Colleges and
Employers, the class of 2009 is leaving campus with fewer jobs in hand than
their 2008 counterparts. The group found that just 19.7 percent of 2009
graduates who applied for a job actually have one.

In comparison, 51 percent of those graduating in 2007 and 26
percent of those graduating in 2008 who had applied for a job had one in hand by
the time of graduation.

One career counselor put it this way: "The bad news is this is
the worst job market I've seen, and I've been in career development
for 30 years.

"On the other hand, when the job market is tight, new
college graduates will find that while it is competitive, they have
the advantage of being a cheaper source of labor. The workers that
are being laid off by these companies are often more experienced and
so have higher wages."

That's comforting news. If you work, prepare to work dirt cheap.
And don't forget to step over the bodies of former employees on your way
in the door.

Meanwhile, more students are graduating from college, according to
the National Center for Education Statistics. Colleges and universities
will grant an estimated 1,585,000 bachelor's degrees this school year, up
from 1,544,000 in the 2007-2008 year and 1,506,000 the prior year.

It could be worse. In China, 6.1 million graduates have been
searching high and low for work the past few months. But they join an
estimated two to three million graduates from previous years who still haven't found

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." --- Milton Berle

"...You must knock on doors until your knuckles bleed. Doors will
slam in your face. You must pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and knock
again. It's the only way to achieve your goals in life." --- Michael Uslan,
film producer.

The employment outlook is not all bad, some career counselors say.
Despite cutbacks in finance, retail, manufacturing and construction, demand
for recent graduates remains high in fields such as accounting, public
service, health care, education and technology.

And look at it this way. Your job prospects are a lot better than
they would be if you hadn't gotten that degree. Without it, your career is
on the fast track to fast food.

A couple more words of advice from one who's been there: Life is
not fair, get use to it. Business cycles don't last a lifetime. You can
expect to work until mid century and beyond so be patient. Most people have
to work their way up. Unless Daddy runs a hedge fund, start small but get

And last but not least: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end
up working for one.

"All that stands between the graduate and the top of the ladder is
the ladder." --- Author Unknown.

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