We all know it’s a crappy situation for job and internship searching out there; unemployment is up, the market just dropped again, and everyone is feeling the financial pinch.
It’s easy to throw in the towel and submit to a less-than job opportunity to scrape by for the next few years, but why settle? That’s the question Ladan Nekoomaram poses to college seniors.
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In over 9 percent unemployment and graduations after graduations with more students clueless about what they’re going to do next, people in my generation have started giving up. We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on educations that were supposed to give us job security and help us jump-start the adulthood we feared and worked relentlessly for the majority of our young lives. Instead, many of us recent graduates have pushed the pause button and gotten comfortable not really moving forward, taking jobs like waitressing or at a bookstore, and living at home with the folks until the economy takes a turn. A recent New York Times article gave us the name “Generation Limbo,”– a group of well-educated, broke 20-somethings who have lost hope in the American dream, and instead of fighting for it, have decided to be victims.
As the article cites, almost 15 percent of grads who earned their degrees between 2006-2010 are still looking for full-time jobs. This bleak outlook reflects unemployment seen in other age groups and has led to a general acceptance with second best. In a climate where lawyers can’t even get jobs, it’s perfectly understandable that my fellow limbo-ers have become discouraged. Not only are more people becoming okay with giving up their dreams, they are letting it last beyond what they claimed to be temporary and somehow “for now” turns into their 30s and beyond.
The feature cites a number of cases where these recent grads have taken up odd jobs, joined bands, traveled, and lived at home at the expense of their parents. While touring through Europe, playing guitar at coffee shops, not having to pay rent, and picking up unrelated jobs may sound romantic for your quarter-life crises, most of the time they end up becoming excuses. You end up right where you started after graduation and a few years behind others in your field who are getting ahead. Especially in an economy like this one, it’s time to wake up from the dream that your “real” life is waiting for you when you’re finally mature enough to start it.
One of the main reasons Generation Limbo has come to accept this alternative lifestyle is because they feel that they have plenty of time to get serious when the mood strikes, and in the meantime, someone will take care of them. And when they fall behind in saving for the future, someone will pick up the lag. This attitude of dependence and safety will not produce tomorrow’s innovators and risk-takers that will get the US economy up and running again. And if more people wait to get their lives started, it will take longer for people to make money, get promotions, and start families for our future generation of workers. Fostering a culture of dependence — one that doesn’t believe self-made success is the best way to achieve your goals — will reverberate throughout the future economy.
Today’s young adults can do better. Those who have given it their all and tried their best to make it in a tough job market will eventually achieve their goals. How do I know this? Because I believe in the opportunity of the American dream. Don’t be afraid, don’t make excuses, and don’t adopt the attitude that life can wait. The culture of dependence is not what makes this country strong and it will not sustain a prosperous future.