Employment: Be a part of the solution

Regardless of the economic climate, the ability to gain employment ultimately rests in the hands of job seekers.

The seeming problem confronting many college graduates is that there simply are not as many job openings as there are job applicants.

We’ve all been there. Hunting for summer jobs until the summer’s over, turning in 20 applications and never getting an interview…

What are we to do? It’s not like the job market has a “graduates only” section if you flash your diploma to them. In fact, there are thousands of graduates each year who end up in dead-end, minimum wage jobs, or wasting a year in an unpaid internship only to get let go before their salary begins.

This is an international problem, going beyond the stereotypical culprits of an increasing retirement age and the “Baby Boomer” generation. While many people will blame the government, it just comes across as a lame excuse. The fact that this problem is plaguing the rest of the world shows that it can’t just be the government’s fault. In fact, no one in any government seems to know what to do about it.

“The previous five years it was a sellers’ market for these kids. They could pretty much demand what they wanted in terms of a job and what they got from an employer. That’s no longer going to be the case,” said Ed Koc, a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, of new college graduates in an ABCNews.com article.

This is certainly not encouraging for those who are preparing to graduate and head out into the workforce. The fact that not even the experts fully understand what’s going on makes it worse, especially as it has erupted into huge disputes elsewhere in the world.

“We’ve never encountered anything like this,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a WashingtonPost.com article. “I think we should be alert to the fact that outcomes are not predetermined, and that it’s not necessarily the case that everything has a happy ending. We are in dark territory and nobody knows what the outcome will be.”

That much is obvious, as this kind of college-aged civil unrest continues to spread across the globe. The most obvious, of course, is Egypt, which saw a civil uprising that seemed to develop almost overnight. The unemployment rate was a large source But what you probably don’t know is that the numbers between Egypt and America’s graduate unemployment are a little too close for comfort.

About one out of every four Egyptians under the age of 25 are unemployed and according to a report released by the Bureau of Labor, the average in the U.S. is about one in every five.

While that is by far the scariest statistic, the similarities don’t stop there. Egypt experienced a severe rift between bureaucrats and the working class, has an enormous amount of frustrated and dissatisfied young people (who made up the majority of the rioters) and also a political regime too focused in other areas to note the growing concerns in their own backyard.

Sound familiar?

“The uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa are a warning for the developed world. The ‘desperate generation’ in Portugal got tens of thousands of people to participate in nationwide protests. How much longer until the rest of the rich world follows their lead?” said Matthew Klein, a research associate at the Council of Foreign Relations, in a NYTimes.com article.

Many people will turn to blame the government for this, wondering why they don’t step in and intercede on our behalf. Honestly, it’s not their job — blaming the Obama administration for not creating 100,000 jobs a year for college graduates is preposterous. The government has had to deal with natural disasters at every turn, political unrest in volatile overseas areas and a few trillion dollars of national debt.

So it falls to us to be the masters of our own fate … at least in terms of ensuring that we’ll have a job waiting for us after graduation.

As a college student, I have been in the same lousy situation, working low-paying summer jobs because most jobs were being taken by laid-off 40-somethings who are desperate to feed their families.

And does the future look any brighter for me once I have a college degree?

If where things are going is any indication, it doesn’t seem likely.

I’m working hard to set myself up for success when my number gets called to dive into the job market, doing internships and volunteer work in areas that will help me stand out from other job applicants.

There’s not much else for us to do but to try our hardest before it’s too late.

If we can’t get a job with our valuable college degrees, there will be no one to blame but ourselves.

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