Seeking Serenity: Stressed new grads, harness your idealism
May 25th, 2011
07:50 AM ET

Seeking Serenity: Stressed new grads, harness your idealism

Editor's note: CNN contributor Amanda Enayati ponders the theme of Seeking Serenity: The quest for well-being and life balance in stressful time.

Graduation just passed, but I still have no job. And in a few weeks, I’ll have nowhere to live either, and so I’m moving back in with my parents to continue my job search, which I first started almost a year ago. I am so stressed out that I haven’t been sleeping. Sometimes I get so anxious, I have difficulty breathing.

That’s a direct quote from a recent college graduate in New York who did not even want his first name used. “I’m so wigged out, I’m feeling paranoid,” he said.

What was remarkable was that in almost a dozen conversations I had with graduates from all over the country these past few weeks, many kept using virtually the same language over and over again. The commonality of sentiments among people who did not know one another was striking. And though there was a smattering here and there of the hopeful - those who had jobs secured - they seemed by far the exception.

There is stress - and a lot of it - rampant among a population that might normally be quite exuberant right about now: four carefree years of college behind them, hard-earned degrees in hand, a warm breeze blowing through their still-full heads of not-graying hair as they embark upon that heady adventure known as the rest of their lives.

Though my own glass tends to run half-full in the face of disaster, I often resist the urge to point out the upside of things to folks - and especially stressed-out college grads who look like they might turn on you in a heartbeat.

And so I listened, sympathetic, but bit my tongue when it came to telling them everything would be OK.

I had done my homework, however, and I knew there was a case to be made that things are looking brighter - for one, the most recent Job Outlook by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, in which employers indicated plans to hire 19.3% more graduates this year.

So why all the misery?

I took it to the authorities, namely Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

“Because that is the lowest bar in the world,” said Shierholz. “You can have a big pickup and increase percentage-wise in hiring and still not have a super-rosy scenario, since these past two years things have just been so bleak. You’re talking about an improvement from a 70-year trough.”


So what are all these graduates who can’t find jobs supposed to do?

“I often get asked what young people should be doing. My answer is I don’t know. It’s not my beat. But the most important thing is that if you had a bad outcome, don’t blame yourself because jobs are not plentiful. There will be large numbers of young people who can do everything perfectly, and they won’t find the jobs and it has nothing to do with them.”

It was a kind thought, but since you can’t pay off a mountain of student loans and move out of your parents’ house with Don’t Blame Yourself, I decided to continue asking around.

One of the folks I happened upon was Nitzan Waisberg, an award-winning designer, historian and professor at the Stanford Institute of Design. Waisberg, who vaguely reminds me of Audrey Hepburn, co-created a course called Sustainable Abundance along with her colleague, Debra Dunn. Since it’s a form of abundance we are after here, I thought she might have some genius advice on where to find it.

In the three years she has taught the course, Waisberg has advised a number of students in designing and building businesses aimed at serving pro-social causes as wide-ranging as creating personal finance tools to empower first-generation Latino communities, to connecting immigrant women in the U.S. with foodies interested in cooking authentic ethnic cuisines. Not all the students she works with are creative, “design” types, either. Many describe themselves as square, analytical and “accountant-y.”

Professor Waisberg described venture after venture in which “students aren’t trying to solve gaps in the market per se, but are rather attempting to find ways to create a win-win-win situation” around issues they are passionate about, harnessing their idealism to benefit both themselves and others. And what’s more, many students are no longer waiting until they graduate to have impact.

This reminded me of a speech by Bill Gates, in which he spoke about a return on idealism (or ROI) in the context of corporate social responsibility, noting that investing in innovation to tackle social problems is a great way for businesses to stand out, be noticed and earn customer loyalty. Apparently companies are not the only ones who can reap a return on idealism.

Interesting paradigm, this: When all heck breaks loose, create a calling for yourself around some aspect of fixing heck.

And perhaps that is exactly what the new normal is: resilience, optimism and social responsibility in the face of trucks full of lemons. Granted, the path is not for everyone. But for many - and likely more than ever before - it will be.

So what can graduates looking for work in a dismal economic environment do more immediately to alleviate all that stress? I posed the question to Judith Orloff, M.D., a UCLA psychiatrist and author of the book, "Emotional Freedom."

Ditch the fear. So says  Orloff, who is wary of statistics because they frighten people. If a person is fearful, he or she will not be able to look for work effectively or do a good job in an interview. She stresses that “you must do everything possible to overcome your fear and stay in a positive state of mind. Don’t indulge negative thoughts.”

Reframe the issue. “You may not be able to control what happens but you can control your attitude about it. Take hold of your thoughts. Reframe the challenge as where the opportunity might lie,” says Orloff. “Bring yourself back to the present and find action-oriented steps to move forward.”

Beware of the vampires. Energy vampires, that is. Orloff suggests steering clear of people who can suck your energy with negative thinking. “Focus on positive people. You want to be around those who can support your balance and abilities.”

Quiet the mind. Focus on something positive to calm down the stress hormones. Undertake some form of activity every day - whether it’s exercise, prayer, meditation or even a few deep breaths - to relax the body and calm the mind. “You want to get the endorphins flowing - the blissful neurochemicals.”

And here’s one I’d like to throw in the mix:

Trust Steve Jobs. In a 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, Jobs said: “Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later ... So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

In other words, have faith that all will be well - a sentiment also echoed by  Orloff: “I have worked with all kinds of people who did not believe in themselves. Once they learned to trust their abilities, their path and their intuition, they went on to create lives that were unbelievable. I have seen miracles happen.”

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. jl

    Finding work in a degree related field can be difficult. Many grads will end up working in jobs unrelated to their degree.
    I"m a case in point. Actually, the most stressful part for me was the fact that I was still living with my parents and couldn't become financially independent. There are people who will rub that in. I didn't like it at all but kept my composure and eventually was able to move out on my own.

    May 25, 2011 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Julie

      It is a shame you are having to deal with verbal abuse as well as underemployment. It is very upsetting to me to see so many people who started their careers in more prosperous times, when hard work and dedication practically guaranteed success, accusing young people of laziness and irresponsibility because they can't seem to find the same opportunities.

      May 25, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
    • jl

      actually, I'm happily employed right now. Jobs are slim pickings right now, so I don't buy the argument that people are too proud to take a lesser job. The old pride criticism is largely untrue.

      May 26, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    If you are reading this and still young and in college my advice to you is this: pursue a field you TRULY love and that has real world applications. You are going to be crap out of luck if you get a marketing, business, teaching degree (unless you absolutely love teaching), because everyone wants those same jobs. If you want to make it in this world, you are going to have to think outside of the box - i'd start with an engineering field.

    But in reality the real problem goes back to not enough emphasis on math and sciences. The high paying fields demand this. Do you really need experience in math and science to get a degree in marketing or business? Not really, but then again everyone is going to have a degree like that.

    May 25, 2011 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anthrogirl

      And then agian...if everyone gets a degree in Math and Sciences, then Marketing and Business will be in demand and everyone will be saying the same thing, only the reverse.

      May 25, 2011 at 09:40 | Report abuse |
    • recheckfacts

      Yes, but not everyone can get a degree in Math and Science. It's much more difficult than a degree in marketing or business.

      May 25, 2011 at 11:07 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I said aim for math and sciences...I didn't say it would be easy. An engineering/computer science degree requires a lot of studying in calc (I had to take calc 4 - a 400 level course - and I was IT major) and hard work. But if it was easy, everyone would do it...which is why there are so many marketing and business majors in the job market not getting jobs...because those don't really require math and science to begin with.

      May 25, 2011 at 12:16 | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      I have to agree with Mike, but don't just start with Engineering. Focus on something with a B.S. (Bachelor of Science) such as Engineering, Accountancy, Finance. These majors offer hard tangible skills that will benefit you and your employer. I see too many majors floundering out there in the marketplace (I am a Sr. Manager and interview lots of folks) with Psychology, Sociology, H.R., Political Science, Liberal Arts, or other types of degrees. There are too many of them and they don't bring hard skills, and I don't have the time or energy to train them up.

      May 25, 2011 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • A

      People with liberal arts degrees are often more fluid and creative in their thinking. You hire them not to be drones but to be novel and insightful in coming up with new approaches to problems. In my opinion these people are the way of the future.

      May 25, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • Sumo

      It's a common misconception that scientists and engineers are unimaginative robots, but this couldn't be further than the truth. I know design engineers that create things far more beautiful and elegant than anything an "arts" major could dream up.

      May 25, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
    • cosmictwang

      Got a BS in physics in 2008, was still looking for job in 18 months later. Ended up going back school to a community college, which helped a lot.

      May 25, 2011 at 21:50 | Report abuse |
    • riley

      You would think math and science but an article just posted on my city news site shows those are not in demand but surprise marketing is. As was Accounting and Computer Science.

      May 26, 2011 at 01:23 | Report abuse |
  3. Sumo

    A lot of these job search woes are self-inflicted. It seems like kids these days just pick "cake courses" and go with whatever degree they think will be easiest. Is it any surprise that there's an over-abundance of people with degrees in things like English and Communications, for which there really aren't many jobs to begin with?

    Please note that the graduate unemployment rate in science and engineering fields is almost non-existent. Kids seem to dislike these majors though, as they actually require them to use their brains. Can't find a job? Invest in a degree that's actually worth something!

    May 25, 2011 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Julie

      A lot of this is caused by bad advice from high school counselors encouraging students to pursue a career in something they find interesting. That may have worked in the past, but now the best you can hope for is ANY job that pays enough to live on and to heck with whether you like it or not. But do we really want nurses and physical therapists who hate their jobs?

      May 25, 2011 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • SRon

      I also noticed that a majority of people do not how to job search.
      They drop off resumes at college career centers, write generic cover letters, bombard online resume depots and then never follow up with their interest or seek a company insider to relay their interest.
      Even during a good economy you have to demonstrate what you will contribute to a company or position! And do tons of prep and research for an interview or informational coffee chat!

      May 25, 2011 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
    • AndreaM

      Math and Science are not the only good fields. My fiancee was picked up by a company within two weeks af graduation with a video production degree. Artsy, but very useful.

      May 25, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
    • cosmictwang

      I don't think it matters what you majored in. I got a BS in physics in 2008. 30+ hours of mathematics classes through Diff. Eq & including stats, two programming classes, and some chemistry later, I couldn't get a job they where they wanted someone with high school education to basically flame test uranium, despite having experience with the equipment they were asking for. Several months and 400+ applications later, my first job after college was waitressing at $2 an hour... BUT things ARE better than they were.

      May 25, 2011 at 21:58 | Report abuse |
    • jl

      There are going to be alot of self-inflicted job problems because the supply of college degrees well exceeds demand.
      I don't see millions of science based jobs on the horizon. College should not be view solely as a job ticket. There's wisdom to be gained in the humanities, for example.

      May 26, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      I obtained a BA in English Literature and continued on to receive a MA in Education, and by no means was my English program a piece of "cake." On the contrary, I was studying, writing, or in the library just as much as my friends with engineering majors. An English major does not mean one just sits around and reads books all day; through my program, I sharpened my writing, analytical, research, and speaking skills, among others. I succeeded in math and science in school as well, but my passion was not in either of those fields, so why pursue a course in which I knew I wouldn't be truly happy? Just for the sake of earning a bigger paycheck? Education is another area that is not a breeze. Just as I could not become a nurse tomorrow, the same holds true for an engineer coming in and teaching a science or math class. A person can do a skill or understand a concept, but that does not mean that individual is capable of teaching said skill or concept to others in an interesting and meaningful way, in addition to having them fully understand the idea! Understanding, comprehending, and correctly using the English language is needed for any kind of job, and I tell my students this on a daily basis. Communication – verbal and written – is a part of everyday life, and a skill I think that is slowly atrophying, which in turn will have unforeseen negative consequences. Unfortunately, even with my education and a few years of long-term teaching assignments, I have yet to be offered a contract. In districts that value my education, they claim I don't have enough experience; in districts that want "beginner" teachers, my advanced degree is a negative because they have to pay me more (although it is not that much of a difference). Please do not assume one degree or major is superior to others; all are important to the workings of our economy and world, and the pendulum will swing again, as it always does. After all, without an English teacher, how would that engineer write his building proposal to construct new roads in developing countries, or pitch his latest presentation on empirical and mechanistic flexibility, or...

      May 26, 2011 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
  4. DR

    You can choose a cirriculum you have a passion for, but be forward thinking enough to realize your passion may not be in line with what is wanted or needed in today's workplace. I love mining for gold, but I don't think I can make a living doing this if I were to go to college for four years AND I would not have real world experience. Employers want potential employees to "hit the ground running" and have the philosophy of "what can you do for me now".

    I keep reading all of these articles and graduates think just because they went to college for four years they are going to get a job, any job. The truth is a graduate doesn't have any experience, just a education. Ask 10 employers which they would rather have, someone with experience or someone with a college degree with no experience. The answer will be the same 9 out of 10 times.

    Have any of these students EVER thought about working and going to college at the same time like us old folks (a mere 41) to gain experience AND an education?

    May 25, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steven

      For some people going to school AND work is not logical. Some don't have the time due to family, a lot of school work etc. The biggest problem is employers expect fresh college grads to know EVERYTHING without any on the job training. Of course young people are inexperience. We don't have 10-15-20+ years – yet. Nobody wants to give someone a chance at the job.

      May 25, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • Bus63

      I couldn't agree more! The problem is that a lot of kids going into college deliberately avoid working while in college so that they don't spoil their "party years" experience. In fact, it's that very aspect that seems to be what drives a lot of kids to go to college in the first place, with schools receiving rankings like "Best Party Schools" and "Best Campuses for Drinking".

      The priorities are all wrong.

      May 25, 2011 at 11:04 | Report abuse |
    • recheckfacts

      A degree is pretty much just a job hunting license. The dilemma is you can't get experience and employers don't want to hire anyone without experience. The job market today is much harder than it was in your day. Used to be you could stroll in to a workplace with nothing but a high school degree and make decent money. Those days are over. Have a little empathy for the graduates of today.

      May 25, 2011 at 11:23 | Report abuse |
  5. Conrad Shull

    "just" graduated and no job yet? So? First, get ANY job. Wait on tables, whatever. Sooner or later you'll get an OK job, then another and in time something you really like. I know patience is an alien trait in the young, but please have some. And, don't forget to breath.

    May 25, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rob

      This really depends on the field you are going into and where you are located. If it is a more advanced field and you have already done some work or internships in the field, use your network to find something in that field. Taking just "any job" can be one of the worst things to do. Like it or not, food service and retail carry a stigma to them; one that indicates that the person working there could not do any better. Avoid them if possible. If you must work in them, get out as soon as possible, if you cannot, get an internship in your field during the same time to stay current and continue building your network. I've seen far too many people get stuck in those fields with no way out by following that advice.

      May 25, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • SRon

      correct, even in grad school we were told there would be "stepping stone" jobs to get to our ultimate field or goal.

      May 25, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • riley

      I'd suggest an unpaid intern in the area you want to work in or for a company you would like to work for. That gets you "usable" experience vs waiting table experience. Then hopefully you can use that experience on your resume to get an interview for a paid job.

      May 26, 2011 at 01:26 | Report abuse |
  6. pcn2485

    I've got some advice, don't double major in African-American Studies/Sociology or Womyn Studies/Sociology.

    May 25, 2011 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. mkub

    When I started undergrad in 2004, I was literally split down the middle of what my major would be: biology, or philosophy/world religions. I bit the bullet and did biology with a chemistry minor just because I'm good at science and figured I could actually get a job. I was pretty shocked in 2008 when it took me 6 mos to get a long-term temp position (no benefits) in a lab with a 3.5 gpa. I wasn't sure about med school so I decided to get a master's in MLS (medical lab science). I will graduate June 11 and I have a full-time hospital job starting June 13. As awesome as that is, I am 70k in debt from the master's (parents paid for undergrad thank God) and I have hated it every single day. I think it's just the corruption within my program, but I guess I'll find out when I graduate if it's because I just hate the field. Now I'm not even sure if I can stomach med school if I'm going to hate it as much as I have hated the past 2 years.
    Moral of the story- as much as unemployment sucks, I'd rather be working as a waitress or bar tender waiting for my dream job with a major I loved rather than literally hating everyday of my life for the past 2 years with a guaranteed job lined up that I will likely hate just as much. It's literally nauseating. The grass is always greener ain't it??

    May 25, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Julie

      A lot of people are flocking to the medical field who have no passion for it just to have a job at all. I certainly don't blame them, but I can't help wondering if that affects the quality of health care people are receiving. I know that some of the worst teachers I've ever had were ones who went to teaching because they couldn't get the job they really wanted.

      May 25, 2011 at 13:03 | Report abuse |
    • cosmictwang

      I feel exactly the same way. I ended up having to get a second degree, because after job hunting for a while I figured that there didn't seem to be a distinct niche for my physics degree. And the only problem taking a waitressing job like I did, was that the line under that in my resume talks about my programming experience in e-m simulations. The degree I'm working on now is in geophysics, but dear god in heaven it's boring, uncreative, and chock full of people who don't think the same way. I keep having to tell myself everyday that a masters is worth 120K and that's better than living with my parents and I can have the things I want and it'll make most of my problems go away, or I wouldn't get out of bed in the morning. I'd rather be waitressing/volunteering/holding out for that planetarium position, so I could show what standing-on-the-surface-of-mars looks like, to scale, to 8 year olds than whoring for an oil company. We all do what we have to do, I guess.

      May 25, 2011 at 22:36 | Report abuse |
  8. guest

    I don't think taking any job is the way to go when you have a college degree and above. Those low-paying jobs suck the life out of you, keeps you in a cycle of poverty, anxiety and depression and it does not do your future any good. But because you have a job, you can't quit...because that would look really bad. These jobs also carry a stigma. Employers think that either they have no ambition, or that they can be exploited. You are better off interning or consulting at places where there are people of similar or higher educational background who will understand your worth, and will help you make contacts with prospective employers. Perhaps you have to move to a larger city where more jobs in your area are available. Life, for the jobseeker, has become infinitely harder than it used to be 10 years ago. But young people are resourceful, they are smart, and they have time in their hands. Perhaps they will realize that existing corporations are not really there for workers, but only for their own profits, and they don't really care. At that point of revelation, young people will start forming their own companies and find their own work they have created.

    May 25, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. S. Cook

    I have one word to describe the people I knew who didn't have jobs at graduation: L-A-Z-Y. They were the unmotivad ones who went to each and every party and yes most of them moved back in with their parents. Work hard and you will achieve.

    May 25, 2011 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DAISHI

      You know what's lazy? Gross generalizations.

      May 26, 2011 at 05:51 | Report abuse |
  10. kait

    I graduated this May with a degree in Civil Engineering. I worked at least 20 hours a week the entire time, maintained above a 3.0, and ended up getting all 4 years paid for by applying for grants and scholarships. So when I graduated I had 4 years experience as an intern, no student loans, and a job waiting. I know it is a hard time to be looking for a job but maybe if parents taught their kids good work ethics and showed them how to be independent like mine did we might not even be in this situation. So make your kids get a job when their old enough and prepare them for the real world because there are no classes for that.

    May 25, 2011 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rob

      Not everyone who graduates without a job is lazy. I just finished law school and have nothing lined up, despite the fact that during law school I had six internships and four reasearch assistantships. All the while I remained in the top third of my class and served as vice president of one organization for two years, and president of another for one year. I don't think that's lazy, do you?

      May 25, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
  11. Dizzyd

    Thanks to all those who had words of encouragement and advice. Those on the other hand (yes YOU, S. Cook!) who think grads w/o jobs are lazy, just try getting a job now! I took time off to be a homemaker – to get off the treadmill – then thought I should go to school and get a degree in Med Billing at one of those business colleges on tv – BIG MISTAKE! They aren't up front about how bad it is out there, otherwise I never would have gone or I would have volunteered meanwhile. They make it sound so promising – a new job right away, practically. I do have some office exp., but they barely look at me. As far as retail/fast food, I can't even get that! Now I'm stuck w/ a big debt. I probably will go back to school – comm. college – and go into medical, like nursing, and look into work-study to help w/ costs. I know I was dumb to go for that slick ad by that college, but I just wanted a better life for my family. BTW, I'm 40-plus yrs old.

    May 25, 2011 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Voltairine

    If people really did harness their idealism, they'd immediately revolt against big business, which has made a flailing, dull-witted, corporatist minion out of the First American, "Republic".

    May 25, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. The_Mick

    When I graduated in 1975, no one was hiring and my old college advisor gave me a research job paying enough to provide spending money for nine months until I finally found a job. Later, I wanted to go into teaching and it was hard finding the job I wanted and it took four years to get promoted to the position I wanted. You've just got to keep plugging away, frustrations and all and do whatever you can to improve your chances.

    May 25, 2011 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. LEB

    How about we start heading this problem off at the source and STOP telling every high school kid they need to go to college? Because they don't. If you spend your years aged 18-22 in the working world, perhaps taking community college courses as needed, you'll be FAR more employable than a newly minted college grad with no real work experience.

    And after 4 years, you'll also be informed enough to have a good idea of what type of higher education would actually help you develop your career. Your employers may even say, "Hey, you're a smart kid with potential, but we'd like you to get some formal education before we move you up the ladder." Heck, they might even offer to help pay for it. I know of quite a few people who had their education partially paid by their current employers.

    Not everyone needs to go to college to succeed... and for some, doing so is just a waste of time and money, because nothing they learn in college will be useful. This does not bode well for students whose primary goal in college is to "get a job." If you want to "get a job," then either get educated in a specific field (ie, medicine, law), or just go get a job and skip college. If you want to be a scholar, then go to college and thrive in the challenge and enjoyment of being scholar. And then have a back-up plan for when you're done being a scholar and it's time to "get a job."

    May 25, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • riley

      Most well paying jobs require a college degree. Of the jobs posted at my company all require a college degree except for the receptionist and admin assistants. The unemployment rate for those with a degree is less than those without. I do agree about working while in college. Picking the right major is probably more important. Accounting vs sociology for example.

      May 26, 2011 at 01:21 | Report abuse |
  15. Lee Oates

    I am calling for an investigation of the takeover of all CNN sites on Libya by, apparently paid, Gadhafi people. All views that support the rebels are being deleted. This is foreign intervention into the right of Americans to express their views.It would seem that Gadhafi's supporters are frightened to face criticism from Americans, so do everything they can to block it.

    The great majority of commenters have been against Gadhafi, a bloody dictator and murderer, and have been systematically removed since the conflict began. CNN is no longer a place to exchange opinions, it has become a Gadhafi propaganda machine.

    I will continue to place this message on every news media outlet I can until some action is taken.

    If you would like to help keep America free from Gadhafi's crew (apparently headed by namia), please repost this somewhere.

    May 25, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jl

      Conversely, I have been blocked out from commenting on CNN since Monday (on my reguglar user name). I am blocked out and have not used offensive or bombastic languagei My views are American like.
      Alot of the CNN comments (eg. Libia) are loaded with histrionics, distortions, pretentions, hate etc.

      May 26, 2011 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
  16. JS

    @pcn2485 you suck. way to make stupid assumptions.

    May 25, 2011 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Linda Walters

    The best thing to do for YOURSELF is to just get a job, any job! Shelve your idealism for the weekends. We've all been where you are and it is not the end of the world. If you like a certain industry even if not related to your degree, STOP COMPLAINING and go to work there, even if just for the summer. Making new contacts in the business world could help you find the job you are seeking elsewhere–it's called networking. Volunteer time in your community and meet as many business people as possible–let them connect you with people who can help you. You're an adult and have to take responsibility for yourself. Honest work never hurt anyone! And save the money you earn–you'll always be better off if you have your own safety net for those rainy days–and there will always be rainy days in your future!

    May 25, 2011 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Brian

    College is an investment. Before you make it, do the research. Only the United States has a position for every major and that may not always be the case. The lack of production of REAL products (tangible products) is what will be our detriment.

    May 25, 2011 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. JFS

    Thank you for this article. It is so easy to get down on yourself and start questioning your abilities. Judith's Orloff's recommendatios resonated with me.

    May 26, 2011 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Jonathan

    They better keep the rent cheaper than AK-47s

    May 26, 2011 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Edwina

    Great advice, but what do you do when the "energy vampires" are members of your own family??

    May 26, 2011 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AB

      @Edwina you plucked that question right out of my brain.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
  22. Dan

    A few comments;
    1) To the physics major with a waitress job...you should have known an MS is the entry level degree in a lot of the hard sciences like physics and chemistry. They consider a BS a lab technician.
    2) Hard skills degrees are your best chance for a job in your field with a BS right out of college: Engineering, Computer Science, Accounting, Actuarial Science....
    3) Get a liberal arts degree if you know why you want it (love it, intellectually stimulating, pre-law, pre-MBA...) but know what to expect from the job standpoint when you are done. How many historians, political scientists, geographers, philosophers, etc do you actually know?
    4) If you find yourself in heading to/in/out of college with no idea what to do with that degree consider a trade school. We in America have so downgraded the perceived value and prestige of a skilled trade. I believe this is a disservice to all of us. We have machinists, plumbers and mechanics retiring and no back-fill.
    5) Me? I have a BS in Elec Engineering and in the 25 years since I graduated have never been unemployed for more than a weekend between jobs. I make more money than my father (Phd chemistry), brother (MS Geophysics), sister (MBA) or mother (BS chemistry/teacher). Heck, I make more than my bother and sister combined. However, If I knew then what I know now I would have gone to trade school to be a plumber or electrician, apprenticed, become a master craftsman, earned a BS in business and launched my own company.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Mael

    2.5 years out of school and still living at home has been a rough challenge for me on many levels. It came down to building fences at a ranch (great use of a Public Relations degree). Thinking about joing the Army Reserves while attending grad school. I guess the hope here is to wait out the storm, and hope things will get better in a few years, and if not, well at least I will have a Masters.

    My advice to recent grads, go back to grad school. Do it conservatively, live minimal while still allowing for enjoyement. Discover an alternatively lifestyle and get back to the basics on what is important.

    May 26, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Keir Weimer

    Keir Weimer believes this has and now continues to be a major structural problem for our economy and its individual workers. Where twenty years ago a bachelor degree assured one of a good salary, benefits and the opportunity for upward social and economic mobility with hard work, now it does not necessarily. College graduates are graduating with over six figures in student debt, and having to sometimes take jobs that pay less than 25k a year. With that type of debt, factored into the expense mix of a typical college graduate, they soon feel overwhelmed.

    Keir Weimer believes this problem must be tackled in a holistic manner, from leaders in academia, big business, finance and government. There is no easy solution, and times might get tougher in the next decade, but if we can work together toward viable, creative changes to the way students pay and are then rewarded in the labor market for their investment of time and money in a college degree, then we will be on the right track.

    -Keir Weimer

    April 23, 2012 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
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