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June 24, 2012, Sunday

Finding a job

School has let out. Graduation ceremonies have been held. Inspiring and motivating commencement speeches have been listened to.

Now it’s time for college graduates to find a job and start their careers. However, the class of 2012 left college in the midst of a job shortage. Finding a job is itself a full-time job nowadays as it takes all your energy, time, effort and optimism, yet can also bring discouragement and a certain unique kind of limbo.

In 2008, when the students of today’s class of 2012 first arrived on campus, the Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, the financial crisis flared and the recession deepened. What timing for new college students!  So those freshmen had to adapt to the collapsing US economy; they were proactive in becoming more prepared for the cruelty of the job market they would soon become a part of. They began networking in their desired career fields much earlier. They used summer internships not only as resume builders but to make connections for possible permanent positions in the future. Many career center directors agree that on US campuses spirits are higher this season, when compared to the last couple of years, and the job market looks more promising; however, as graduates are entering a very challenging economic climate, while the world emerges from the worst crisis since the Great Depression, finding a job in the US is still is very difficult.

I came across my neighbor Susan this morning. Her granddaughter Kate graduated from college last month. She has been looking for a job for some time, as she had a light workload in her final semester, but she cannot find anything she likes. “She has applied for more than 50 jobs, with no luck so far,” Susan told me. Every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Kate has been sending out her resume, making follow-up phone calls, searching for companies on the Internet to apply for job openings, for months now. Still, “She hasn’t been called for a single interview yet,” Susan told me sadly.

Kate is not a unique example. There are many new college graduates looking for a job, although their youthful optimism has been extinguished by the slow job market in the US. A Harvard University Institute of Politics survey conducted in March and April shows that young Americans in their early 20s are pessimistic about immediate job opportunities. “Creating jobs and lowering the unemployment rate” was considered more important than any other issue for the new graduates.

On the other hand, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis says, “The recession has reconfirmed the value of having a college degree in a globally competitive job market.” To fit into the job market nowadays you have to have the best qualifications to compete with others.

Social scientists say this is exactly what happened in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Young people are ready to make a start in a prosperous world, yet everything is collapsing around them. Most probably we need to find new methods and ways to help young people achieve success, but how?

Moreover, new research shows some discouraging statistics about the US job market. Summer has officially arrived, but vacations this year are different. Almost half of Americans skip some of their vacation, if they haven’t cancelled all of it, because they are afraid of losing their jobs while away on a break. They are concerned that while they are on vacation it might be felt that they are no longer needed or relevant.

Finding a job is not a problem only in the US but around the whole world, as last week’s G-20 summit showed us. In the Mexico meeting of the G-20, leaders agreed to coordinate a plan to make economic growth and global job creation their top priority. Leaders expressed this in a draft communiqué released last Tuesday at the end of the summit.

“Strong, sustainable and balanced growth remains the top priority of the G-20, as it leads to higher job creation and increases the welfare of people across the world,” the statement reads. “Stand ready to take fiscal action.”

So if you are looking for a job, try to stay calm. You are not the only one. Set realistic career goals and stick to them. Good things only happen to those who believe in themselves. Believe in yourself. It’s the most essential qualification. It’s no coincidence that Justin Bieber’s album “Believe,” released this year, got good reviews.

“It didn’t matter how many times I got knocked on the floor

 But you knew one day I would be standing tall


Where would I be, if you didn’t believe

 Believe...” Bieber sings, and Kate listens to it repeatedly.

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