It’s no secret that recent college grads are one of the largest underemployed groups of people in America. Desperate for a job and a way to focus our attention on something other than the impending doom of permanent adulthood, college graduates seem to share commonalities regardless of their field of study: we’re hungry for employment that pays well and utilizes our areas of study.
Other than a few weeks to months between graduation and the start of a new academic year (in which most grads will not be partaking), the market for jobs overflows with young people seeking secure employment opportunities. But those “secure employment opportunities” are few and far between. Sure, recent grads can (and often do) scoop up sales positions because they are plentiful. But why waste four to six years of hard work in a field you were passionate about on a job you only take because you’re desperate for employment?
Similarly, many graduates flock to retail positions because the potential for rising up the employment ladder occurs more readily there than the existence of entry-level jobs in their respective fields. Again we fall into the cycle of overqualified, underemployed college graduates. It’s much easier to secure a position as an assistant manager at a big box retailer or fast-food restaurant than it is finding a full-time job as a copywriter, social media coordinator, digital marketing specialist, technical writer, and so on. But why should we keep taking jobs that pay at or barely above minimum wage when we’ve worked so hard to earn more?
Some lucky folks might have job offers waiting for them as they walk across that stage into a chilly, stale air-filled office, so this doesn’t apply to them, but not all of us have the luxury of a job in-hand right out of college. Even for the most qualified graduates, many positions require years of experience at similar employers before they even considering hiring “fresh blood”. Sure, you might have all of the qualifications of the right candidate, but you’re also 22 and couldn’t possibly have 3-7 years’ experience working in an office setting, managing social media channels for a multi-million dollar corporation.
Last I checked, Unnamed Marketing Agency #1 doesn’t hire 16-year-olds full time.
What happens then?
There will always be the chorus of people screaming, “Well you shouldn’t have gotten a LIBERAL ARTS DEGREE if you wanted to find a job!” (Wrong.) And the others screeching, “College is pointless! Learn a trade instead!” (No?) Ignoring individual opinions of the value of a student’s degree, I think we can all agree that there should be entry-level employment opportunities for recent graduates, regardless of their field.
See, the secret is that employers are nearly as desperate as their potential candidates to find someone to fill their vacancies, but what they have that graduates don’t is the luxury of being picky. However, when the median age range of applicants flooding your inbox is no greater than 24, yet you require years of experience without proper training to your potential employees, therein lies a gap: people with too little experience and employers who lack faith in future generations so much that they won’t take a chance on recent grads.
So how do we remedy this problem?
Well, if a candidate extensively studied in a certain field of work for (at minimum) four years, and their experience as a student falls in the realm of qualities and capabilities of a ‘hireable’ candidate, maybe employers should give them a chance. Hire the recent grad as a probationary employee. Within three months, provide proper training for the skills they lack and hone the skills they’ve learned in school by creating opportunities for continued growth with your company so they too can take charge and be the best data-entering, idea-pitching, sales-driving, number-crunching person they can be!
What a wild idea.