Photo by Irene Wang
Graduation is coming up and I know all you seniors are excited to enter the real world. I sure am. I’ve had enough of midterms and papers. I want to make a real contribution.
“So, what are your plans for after graduation?”
Oh god, don’t ask me that. I have no clue.
I mean I know what I would like to be doing: I want a full-time job with decent pay and benefits as well as opportunities to advance. And of course I’m applying to work in several different fields. My resumé and cover letter kick ass, and I’m improving my interview skills all the time. But if I think about what I’ll actually be getting up to go do every day this July, I get knots in my stomach because I just don’t and can’t know.
Unfortunately job seekers are in a situation right now where mid-level experience earns entry-level pay, because there are more applicants than positions right now, so entry-level workers get shafted. An analogy for this whole mess could be a very hetero-normative dating site: if there are 10 percent women and 90 percent men, the women can be very average but they still get the cream of the crop. The men have to lower their standards if they want to be matched with anyone at all.
Baby boomers aren’t helping, either. As they retire, employers decide they would rather save a few bucks than hire someone to replace that worker, so the job becomes outsourced or just phased out. This is the literal opposite of job creation. Clearly employers care more about the bottom line than they do about the people in their communities. This “I got mine” attitude is what caused so many problems in the first place.
For the libertarians out there, this is why some countries use a progressive tax system. Besides wonderful things like roads, buses and fire departments, the government hires quite a few people, and with more revenue from taxes the government can create more jobs. More jobs means the lines at the DMV and the post office are shorter. It means more people to build and maintain a new public transit system, which will get cars off the road and get people walking around. Then we get back to that whole quality of life thing I mentioned.
Beyond that, creating jobs puts money in the hands of common people, who as a group will spend more on goods and services than rich people. With demand for these goods and services, more jobs are created, which puts more money into common hands, and if this happens enough then the economy grows.
But many people have it backwards, thinking that allowing a few people to hoard all the money instead of allowing it to flow is what will create jobs. This line of thinking is not only wrong, it’s dangerous. Between my anxiety about the job search and my disgust with the state of our economy, I’ve had a lot of stomach aches and insomnia lately. With 50
percent of our graduating class predicted to be un- or underemployed this summer, things aren’t looking good.
But what is there to do? I have loans to pay off, so I’ll suck it up and do the work I can find until I figure things out. Plus I get to move back in with my parents this summer, like the successful college graduate I always wanted to be. This is becoming the new standard, so I hope your parents are as cool as mine are.