Life Isn’t All Honey and Doughnuts: Recent Graduates and the Recession

5 Nov


Over the past year or so the reality of this recession of ours has revealed itself to me more and more. In college I was blissfully unaware of the implications of the recession. I would refer to it the same way I would refer to any other pressing social issue that rarely entered my life directly – People in the South don’t recycle – Can you BELIEVE it?!  Because I was in school I was in a stressful yet comfortable bubble where my concerns revolved around paper deadlines and registration for the next semester.

Volunteering with AmeriCorps in Louisiana allowed me to prolong my ignorance of the crap American economy another 10 months.

Needless to say, returning to Minnesota, moving in with my parents, and beginning the job search was a rough slap in the face. And the full extent of this job market still reveals itself in unexpected ways each day.

I’ve had countless conversations about the economy with friends, as have the rest of you no doubt. I find the topic really interesting to attempt to dissect because everyone has a different take on what’s going on, and how it has affected them. What exactly are the effects of this hyper-competitive job market, especially concerning young graduates?

I would say the most common result for young grads has been severe underemployment. Many of my friends are laboring away at jobs that have little to do with their degrees. These jobs are the jobs that we all thought we were done with after college, but which we thank god to have now. Restaurant jobs, retail, administrative positions, seasonal work, odd jobs, tutoring, etc…

The inability to land a “real job” has been attributed to many causes. Some simply blame the dried up job market. Others, however, suggest that our generation has an overly particular expectation for work, and is therefore unwilling to settle for a job that doesn’t dovetail perfectly to personal interests and education.

Despite the stress of it all, there are still some who see the state of the economy as having particular benefits. When unable to find the job they’re looking for, many have worked to create that job for themselves through entrepreneurial endeavors. Yes, necessity is the mother of invention.

As an entrepreneur, I will say that this economy has benefited my professional growth and resulted in me doing things I never would have dreamed of pursuing. But, at the end of the day, I’ll also be the first to admit that I’m not making enough money. Savings accounts, retirement funds, insurance costs, and inevitable small disasters are not within my budget.

I’m grateful to be making enough to get by, and I love the continual learning and flexibility that owning my own business allows, but the life I live is not sustainable in the long term. Perhaps this is something that will change in the future with economic recuperation?

I also understand that my story is only one of millions. How has the tough economy affected your life? What decisions have you made that would have been different if the economy were better?

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One Response to “Life Isn’t All Honey and Doughnuts: Recent Graduates and the Recession”

  1. McKenzie M November 5, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    to pacify my more conservative friends: without the rich we would all starve

Do tell.

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