Graduating into the Recession and What Next

For recent graduates, those in their early 20’s and, well, almost everyone else, the job market at the moment is overwhelming bad. There’s hope, of course, and this interview between recent graduate and entrepreneur¬†Alex J. Mann and Phila Lawyer discussing¬†what it’s like graduating into one of the nastiest job markets in history is a good place to start in trying to understand what it’s like and where to go.

If there is one upside to the economic downturn, it’s that suddenly we’ve been put in the position to creatively fend for ourselves. For instance, when all of the traditional career options that a business major typically approaches have gone thin, the desperation is followed by a wave of experimentation. [‚Ķ] In my opinion, this is how it should be. College, or any form of education, shouldn’t create a path or destiny. It should create options to choose our own.

The few ambitious ones are going into entrepreneurial ventures. But, the majority of students are too scared to take that responsibility, because society tells us otherwise. A positive sign is there are plenty of students attempting to use the Internet to either market themselves, or to attempt to monetize their ideas. There are mini-movements of students realizing that they can leverage the Internet to do both what makes them happy and creates cash flow (yes, both!). It is uncommon though.

[‚Ķ] There’s a strong sense of entrepreneurship with people my age now, even if they aren’t all acting on it. There’s an itch to go do something on your own.

The interview touches on many topics‚ÄĒeducation, entrepreneurship, generational differences/expectations, the economy‚ÄĒand it’s also worth popping over to Alex’s site to read a couple of his after-thoughts.



5 responses to “Graduating into the Recession and What Next”

  1. Paul

    The only advice I can give is that according to historic data, the number of jobs advertised now is no fewer than were advertised in the mid-1990s when I graduated. My first job had 149 applicants, for a ¬£12,500 salary. The company had never employed ‘a graduate’ before in the role.

    Also, don’t expect it to get better. Cynicus Economicus points out that if you’re waiting for the economic situation to get better then you need to ask yourself – what is the catalyst you’re waiting for exactly?

    Ignore the media telling us we can go on as before. This is the recovery.

  2. @Lloyd. Thanks for posting this.

    @Paul. I haven’t looked at the historic data. But, from my perspective, jobs, even the corporate type, aren’t available like they were in the bull market 3 – 4 years ago. The mid-1990s was a different economic culture with less technology and less opportunities of scale for employers. I can’t see it being as competitive then as it is now.

    And, my expectations are low for any economic condition to improve. If you read the interview, you’d realize I’m not waiting for any catalyst. My entire point of the interview was you don’t need to.

  3. Paul

    Hi Alex

    In terms of the number of positions available, the situation is not worse yet. It is already worse than the 2002-2003 dot com crash in IT though – and that one was nasty so your point that it is a severe job market is taken.

    The government’s recommendation that graduates basically “bugger off abroad for a year or so” seem to be pinned on a recovery arriving soon. My point is really directed at people who believe that. Japan created a lost generation after their credit bubble burst and I can see no reason why the UK should fare any better. In fact our policymakers appear to be repeating a lot of their mistakes.

    If I were a computing graduate again now, I’d be setting up a business doing iPhone and G1 development and ignore the corporate ladder.

  4. As a 2008 college grad (then unemployed from an office job by 2009 and now working part time 5 to noon) I can tell you that, “There‚Äôs a strong sense of entrepreneurship with people my age now, even if they aren‚Äôt all acting on it. There‚Äôs an itch to go do something on your own.” is total bullshit. It should read, “there is a strong sense of drowning, we are doing whatever we can to survive.”

  5. @Steven I disagree, although I suppose opinions on this are exactly that: opinions based on personal anecdotes.

    My opinion, however? Even with a well-paying, enjoyable and secure job in finance I’m itching to do something on my own. I have a number of friends in situations exactly like this, too.

    Why? I believe that this recession is making employees realise that as long as you’re exactly that–an employee–your work life isn’t in your control. It’s not about being your own boss, or being able to choose your own hours, it’s about being the one responsible for the successes and failures you encounter.