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Young, Educated, and Unemployed: A New Generation of Kids Search for Work in their 20s

Young, Educated, and Unemployed: A New Generation of Kids Search for Work in their 20s

October 13, 2010

Loan debt is also a concern for Rachel Lieberman, 30, whose six-figure loan repayment for her joint master’s degrees in public health and business from the University of Michigan goes into repayment later this fall. After graduating in the spring, Lieberman spent a lot of time on her couch watching movies, recovering from two intense years of business school. The sudden abundance of free time was unsettling. “I’m someone who needs structure, who does better when I’m super busy than when I have nothing on my plate,” says Lieberman, who pays her rent by working part-time at 826 Michigan, a national nonprofit that helps students develop writing skills. If it weren’t for the 15 hours a week of work, she imagines she would resort to making jewelry and selling it on Etsy. For now, a combination of frugality and money saved from last summer’s paid internship helps make up the difference.

The emotional pressures are as difficult as the financial ones. “When the response is negative, it’s hard to constantly put yourself out there,” says Lieberman, who, after graduating from Grinnell College worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. “What I miss most is feeling productive, that I’m a part of something larger than myself. It’s really hard not to have that.” What she also hates is waking up in the middle of the night, her heart pounding with anxiety.

Most days, Stacks leaves work and comes home to the upper-class neighborhood where he lives, feeling beaten down. While not all parts of his underemployment have been bad—Stacks has had time to read contemporary novels again, wade his way through the entire Criterion Collection of films, and has grown closer to his mother since moving back home—it isn’t easy for him to shake the sense that life as he’s living it won’t last forever. With his personal life on hold, not wanting to start a new relationship while living in his mother’s house, he tweaks his resume, writes cover letters with astonishing speed, and waits.

Despite all of the stories that Stacks reads that say he is hardly alone in his battle for meaningful employment, nearly all of his friends have jobs. Some are really successful. “It makes talking about it and hanging out with them, marveling at the size of their televisions and spacious kitchens, really difficult,” he says.

Last fall, a friend invited Stacks to a Halloween party where there would be a lot of people he didn’t know. After wavering on what sort of costume he should wear, he ended up not going. “I honestly had no idea to how to explain to people who I was and what I did,” says Stacks. “And maybe I still don’t.”

Illustrations by Graham Roumieu.


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    Jain_C

    over 2 years ago

    2 comments

    The key is to look at which majors are most affected by unemployment. Humanities and arts are affected the most because they do not have proper application in the real world. Business is the most common major and all of you are fighting for the same jobs. The least common major is engineering. If you have an engineering degree (especially in mechanical, industrial, or electrical) you are set to get any job you want because people want people who can think critically (especially in finance), have great technical skills (which engineers can do in general), and can handle stress and adapt to dynamic situations (which is the essence of an engineering program). Trust me, you do well in engineering, and you will succeed. Major in something like history or journalism and your life is gonna suck.

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    Jess721

    over 2 years ago

    2 comments

    Seriously, I accidentally came across this website and the irony of it all......I am in the same situation. I wish some Company CEO could come across this Blog and see that we are all intelligent people who are energetic and ready to work ! but......all feel the same hopelessness because we cannot get a job/career in motion due to lack of Experience! Um...HELLO Mr. Company X.....we need to be given a chance in order to establish expereince , if only our voices could be heard beyond this Blog-Site.

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    MichaelMyers0

    over 2 years ago

    4 comments

    ARGGHHH!! This is exactly my story too! I've been outta school 2 years now and even with a BA I'm working at a restaurant. I was surfing the web today, however, and this article has given me a hope! Plz check it out if you've ever felt as lost as I have!

    http://www.businessinsider.com/stand-apart-from-the-2-million-other-new-grads-pouring-into-the-job-market-this-year-2012-5#ixzz1uIAlOEEc

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    Kkranb

    over 2 years ago

    2 comments

    I am in the same boat as lindz, graduated from a very good undergrad program, but all of the jobs require experience! How can you get experience if you can't even get your foot in the door!?!? It is insanely frustrating to work so so hard for four, or in my case five, years and have nothing pan out to the point where you can't even support yourself minimally! It's outrageous.

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    edsonevertsz

    over 2 years ago

    2 comments

    Can relate to this story. Graduated a few years ago with a Master degree in Forensic Science and still not able to find a job!

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    Rfabii

    almost 3 years ago

    4 comments

    This article is a downer. i was waiting for a happy ending...

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    richards0103

    almost 3 years ago

    2 comments

    im getting really discourage the more time that goes by the longer they see were outta work which makes us less experienced whats going on times are so tough right now

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    Lindz784

    almost 3 years ago

    2 comments

    Thank goodness I'm not the only one! Graduated in May with my Masters, while working full time and living at home. My job didn't pay much, but it worked out because I was living at home. Now I'm on my own in Florida making ends meet. It's tough when you put so much effort into doing what is right, and then there isn't much offered out there unless you have "experience". Hard to get "experience" when nobody is willing to hire. I'm smart and I learn quickly, but apparently that doesn't mean much to many companies.... I just want a chance already!!

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    SMILEANYWAY

    about 3 years ago

    8 comments

    COLLEGE GRADUATES ARE UNEMPLOYED BECAUSE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES ARE SMARTER WHEN THEY GRADUATE. AND EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE YOU WILL LIKELY FIND YOURSELF IN AN ENTRY LEVEL JOB ANYWAY .UNLESS YOU GOT SOME EXPERIENCE WHILE YOU WERE IN SCHOOL. AND EVEN THEN YOU BETTER BE ABLE TO PLAY OFFICE POLITICS. CAUSE THERE'S SOME SENIOR PERSON THAT WON'T BE TOO WILLING TO GIVE UP HIS OR HER POSITION.

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    bzombo

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I graduated in 1998 and it took me until 2001 to find the job that I really likied and matched my degree. It was hard then too!. Life is not a cakewalk. People are not waiting to give things to you. You have to work to get what you want. Companies NEVER were just waiting for kids with degrees to show up at their door. You had to do something to make them want you. Stop complaining and get out there and work! If that means working retail for a year or two before finding that job you really want, then so be it. What the heck are those who are complaining going to do when they have families and all sorts of new stresses and pressures present themselves? With all the whining, I'm starting to suspect that curling up in a corner and crying will be the chosen response. Suck it up and find a job!

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    Smithjes88

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    Graduated last year May 2010 with a bachelor's degree in Public Relations with a minor in Event Planning. Didn't think it would be nearly impossible finding a job. Worked my butt off in college and with my 2 year anniversary coming up since graduating Im getting nervous. I've been applying for entry-level/assistant jobs and same response of that I've no experience. How the hell am I suppose to get experience if no one will give me the chance??? Makes no sense at ALL!

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    MYBATZ13

    about 3 years ago

    34 comments

    It has always been important to me to be an active citizen. My cover letter needs work.

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    jdr0317

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    Two people who just finished in May (first jobs can be hard to find, still sucks but it took me a year), and one guy who majored in American Studies?

    Why can these articles never just say the core issue: we have a surplus of kids getting degrees in ______ Studies, Sociology, Film, and other warm/fuzzy degrees, and we have a shortage of quality people in math/science/tech/etc. Kids who spend their academic career pursuing a narrow interest and not adding any transitive skills that employers look for are doing themselves a disservice.

    "I know how to think" is a common general one I hear. Well, so can I, and I can also data mine, do statistical analysis, pipeline data, write code in multiple languages, etc.

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    EamonOConnor

    about 3 years ago

    4 comments

    big ups sirkennuth!

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    patbenmi

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I feel I'm in the same place, working a dead-end retail job.