Cynicism hits a new high for college grad’s job possibilites

I earned my coaching certification last year with the goal of adding a new flavoring to my 24 years of recruiting expertise. In recruiting you develop a niche (mine is pharmaceutical marketing and communications). In coaching you are supposed to develop a niche (or two) as well. I decided to focus on coaching college students. I have a college age son and I thought it could be somewhat cathartic experience for me.

I should of known better. I forgot that most college age kids know more than their parents. It is very difficult to coach/teach/mentor your own kid. I admire and applaud those who are successful. I had a bit more luck with a couple of college age kids that I coached. I helped them understand the process of getting a job, (resume writing, interview techniques etc). I was hoping to shape their expectations too. Most importantly, I focused on getting them to be their own recruiter. In most cases, recruitment firms can’t help college graduates (even in the best of times).

I feel for these kids as I truly believe that the prospects of quick success careers are not that abundant, yet these kids have been living in a world of immediate gratification since birth. I have imparted realism ( blend of cynicism and optimism) to my own kids and to the students I have coached . After reading a recent Wall Street Journal Career’s article,    A Lament for the Class of 2010, I must sound like Tony Robbins.

This article is a good read and an important read for parents and their students. It paints a cynical but true portrait of the job environment out there. My problem with this article is that it is not reassuring nor does it offer any solutions or alternatives. Joe Queenan speaks of a recent Princeton graduate working for $250 a week with no real future options. He proclaims certain data that continues to paint a bleak future for the job market. His description of college grads working with Baby Boomers and having to indulge with our dullard idiosyncrasies are somewhat funny but depressing as well. Joe questions whether college and its expenses are worth it.  I am not sure what Joe’s point is… does he have some underlying resentment towards today’s youth (his own kids possibly) or is he just existential about today’s business world and sees no positive future.

I think Joe might have missed a point. I think we as parent’s might miss the mark sometimes too. These kids are entering a very tough time. Conventional career paths are somewhat limited right now. High paying jobs out of school are scarce (but were they ever abundant?) and low paying jobs are competitive to get. We know this. There are always solutions. The rise to success might take longer today than during the last few decades, but success is still in eye’s view. Joe’s cynicism prevented him from seeing that each generation can help create new frontiers. Today’s generation has the entrepreneurial capabilities of paving their own road to success. This economy won’t last forever. Today’s graduates can find opportunity and knowledge within the mundane positions they take once out of college and in short order apply them to more exciting opportunities later. Whether creating their own business or waiting out this difficult period, we need to continue to help our kids succeed and temper their expectations. We need to help foster their entrepreneurial ambitions or help them gain some independence.

Joe lampooned this song but I believe it to be true; “The sun will come out tomorrow”.


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