The Young and Unemployed

This week I saw multiple articles about recent college graduates that are unable to find a full-time jobs and are instead taking multiple internships. Some have had up to 15 since graduating and many feel they have no other choice. I found these articles interesting for a few reasons. First, I am a firm believer in having internships to gain experience. I had three internships in college, including one where I did event planning for a non-profit. That experience is part of the reason that I have my current full-time job. Second, I believe an internship can be a way into a company. When I first moved to Rockford, I was offered an internship at one of the local radio stations. I needed an income so I had to decline, but the person I spoke to said she started out as an intern and then was offered a position.

But the reason I was most interested in these articles was because of a conversation I had with my husband. We were talking about a speaker he recently heard from who spoke about manufacturing in Rockford. The speaker told the group that they were growing and had more than 90 open positions for skilled workers, but they could not find people to fill the jobs. Now for those that listen to the news and hear the unemployment statistics for the area, this should sound impossible. Open jobs in Rockford? What is going on?

My husband thought the same thing, and became concerned when the speaker told the group they were only looking for those right out of high school or people graduating from trade schools. Being a recent grad, my husband couldn’t help but think of all of the people he knows who have struggled to find a job in this market. They graduated from a four-year college and are intelligent, but they just can’t find anything and at this point are desperate for any job.

My husband asked the speaker why they weren’t hiring college grads, and the response shocked us both. The speaker told my husband that college grads won’t want these jobs, and most recent grads already have jobs. Therefore, he isn’t recruiting college grads.

I couldn’t believe he said that! Some of my friends from college are still struggling to find jobs, and we graduated in 2008. They are willing to take any job to gain experience and begin paying back those student loans. And then I read the articles about these grads who have struggled to find a job after doing what we all are taught is right: do well in high school, go to college and get a degree, and then you will get a good job. How can people honestly believe that recent grads are unwilling to take a job, or do not need it? Statistics are all around us on the lack of opportunities for grads. So where is the disconnect?

Rockford needs a serious adjustment in the way our business leaders thinks. There are hundreds of smart, talented young professionals who are both willing and able to take any position that would provide them experience in the workforce. And I urge the leaders in this community to realize the potential these young professionals will bring. You may think they won’t want to start out in these low positions, but what you see as a job they don’t want, they see as an opportunity for advancement.


~ by Karissa on December 12, 2010.

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