Graduating into a Recession


I was having a coffee with a friend the other day and she said something that stuck with me.  It was about the plight of young people graduating into a recession.  It was clear that she had children or at least felt their pain.  Her browl furrowed. The frustration was apparent.  I have written many blogs targeted to Millennials including Why Graduates Are Looking For Jobs in All the Wrong Places. I write for Millennials because I am surrounded by them both in my personal and work life. I have enjoyed working with the paid interns I have used for over ten years. The majority have graduated into the workforce.  Occasionally I meet young people who make bad choices.

Soon afterwards I was listening to Q on CBC.  It’s the Canadian in me.  Jian Ghomeshi was away but the guest announcer was interviewing  Emma Keonig  who recently wrote a book called, ‘F**k I’m in my Twenties.’ It was about the lament of youth and the difficulties of finding jobs in the New Normal.

Emma, who I believe lives in New York shared some great perspectives about a world where you could be famous on the internet but couldn’t afford to buy a bagel in the morning.

Yes, these are very difficult times for graduates.  I took a look into a rear view mirror in order to find good times to graduate.

In the Sixties you could graduate and listen to Country Joe McDonald singing ‘One Two Three Four What Are We Fighting For’ and hope you didn’t come home in a Box.  Politicians were telling the public that we had to be in Vietnam, otherwise Asia would go Communist. My college roommate’s sons live in Shanghai.

In the Seventies millions of Boomers were graduating into a bubble where they were overwhelmed the job market.

Terry O’Reilly , the guest announcer on CBC shared his perspective that when he bought a car in the Eighies his interest rate was 22%.

In the late 1990’s we had another recession.

In 2001 we had the Dot-com bust.

Now we are in the Great Recession.

You can’t control the economy. You can’t control when you were born.  You can’t control who your parents will be. You can only control your choices and how you react and adapt to the circumstances around you.  That is how youth succeeds and every generation of young people is smarter and better.  I am glad I live with a lot of them.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

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You can watch a video by Hank on Networking Tips for Young People.


4 thoughts on “Graduating into a Recession

  1. Steve Fawthrop

    Hank, I think the biggest challenge for younger people now vs. in the past (people who entered the job market in the late 60’s on onward) in their mindset of expectation. This has progressive. I would l not put the graduates of ’67 through ’99 in the same box then declare some profound shift took place in 2000 or some arbitrary year.

    As we have become a more consumer oriented society I believe an assumed standard of living (a higher level) is more assumed in this group right off the bat. Again, this is very broad statement on my part but I believe it to be true. My kids are 20 and 18 and were exposed to a high level of wealth at their high school and got more “things” and opportunities (camps, supported hobbies, travel) than I received when I was younger.

    I will also admit that perhaps my perspective is even more skewed by living in Orange County, where there is a high concentration of wealth and consumer consumption compared to the rest of the country,

    They are better educated as a group. More socially savvy and worldly as a group. This has created expectations that something rewarding should be waiting for them right off the bat.

    They do not need to limit their dreams but many have to modify their idea of the process of getting their dreams fulfilled.

    Last, you put in a group point about the challenges of every generation. Unemployment was quite high when I graduated in ’82 but, as you noted, I did not have to risk being drafted. Everyone enters the market with new opportunities and challenges.

    Things are less structured and more individualistic if desired thanks to the Internet leveling the playing field in many ways–including the ability to communicate with the world with little effort.

    • Hank,

      I completely agree with you. My generation needs to learn how to deal with the challenges of today and learn how to make our own opportunities.

      What is disheartening is to see my peers say time and time again that there are no jobs available for them, when this is simply not true. As a college student in my early twenties, I feel that the work ethic of my generation versus past generations has decreased in quality. It seems to me that those who can’t find jobs didn’t work hard enough to make themselves invaluable early on, didn’t take valuable internships, did not network as they should have.

      It’s always easier to blame others than it is to blame your self. It’s harder to truly work for success than to just have it handed to you.

  2. Robyn Barnes

    Well said by both of you. The Millenials I know are smart, hard-working in school and lazy in life. They want their parents’ standard of living without putting in the sacrifice to earn it. If the answer is not on Google, they aren’t interested in doing the legwork to get it. I love these kids but I worry about how they will survive in the working world!

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