This week, my younger niece graduated high school. Always exciting when you see a true graduation ceremony (as opposed to the over-the-top “graduation” of every grade these days). Rather than bore you with another trip down memory lane to my own graduation (which, frankly would need mapping software, since I can barely remember), I thought we could talk about the world my two young nieces are entering into oh-so-soon.
My older niece will be entering her final year in college this fall. Her timing is unfortunate, as she faces a terrible job market in a sickly economy. As if the normal butterflies or uncertainty of “making your way in the world” isn’t enough of an emotional wall to scale, now she looks straight into the possibility of being a qualified, enthusiastic, terrific asset to a company and not getting hired simply because there just aren’t enough openings.
The advantage she has is that being a bright-eyed, fresh-out-of-college applicant is that she will work for bottom feeder salary. You cannot overstate the attraction that provides to companies unwilling to pay the premium that experience requires (though that premium is lower than ever considering the vast amount of laid off workers).
My younger niece gets the benefit of spending the next four years learning while the world’s economies heal themselves. Given the historic track record on economic slowdowns, she should be coming out either into a boom or on the cusp of one. That’s a significant stress reducer which should allow her to focus entirely on her studies and (mostly) ignore the macro world’s machinations.
One advantage my older niece has is that she has had a job for a while now. The process of learning how to balance multiple parts of her world (known in corporate-speak as “work-life balance”) will aid her greatly when the true challenges of her career present themselves. Already she has learned valuable “real-life” lessons such as “life is not fair” and “some co-workers and bosses are…unpleasant”. She works hard, with integrity and focus, even if the work itself is unrelated to her future. These are lessons that will certainly serve her well.
I would like to hear that my younger niece takes a similar path, taking on a job unrelated to her future career. The lessons you learn when you are working a “job” are so much different than in a career. Remove the goals and ambitions from your day-to-day and you’re left with finding a way to work with your fellow employees and bosses and/or dealing with customers. Navigating those challenges early in life will be incredibly helpful when she does land her “dream job”.
I’m excited by both my nieces impending journey into independence and wish them the best success in landing a job in a career that they will find happiness.
And maybe, just maybe, they can take me out to lunch for once!