Finding a job is hard for young people these days. Especially young men. This is even more so in Europe—but it's bad enough here. Unemployment has lots of bad effects, too: on health, on disillusionment, on moving ahead with other life plans, and also on the fact that a significant period of unemployment makes a job applicant even less desirable.
What to do? There's no set of suggestions that apply to everyone. Here are a few possibilities to consider.
Things will only get worse if you get yourself in debt. Avoid credit card debt like the plague. Balance educational options against adding debt. School loan burdens make it harder to think of marriage, of non-traditional learning experiences, of risky entrepreneurial ventures. Traditional four-year degree programs, especially in private schools, usually mean assuming a student loan debt burden. But job opportunities may be equal or greater via a two-year program, tech school, or in (some) online programs: the payoff between tuition and job opportunity is better. Focus on technical skills that meet current needs, such as in various IT or medical programs (for example, medical institutions are desperately trying to gear up for government mandated records and billing requirements that demand information systems.)
Get a job—any job. Remember that, unlike older generations, your career is likely to involve several job shifts. You are starting a path of constant retooling, life-long learning in the modern economy. Internships, skilled, and sometimes even not-so-skilled labor, get you started, put "employed" on your resume, and may lead to full time employment. The daughter of a friend of mine heard of a new project in a company and offered to work for free. After they saw her ability, she ended up with a full time job.
There is likely to be frustration and discouragement in your path. Studies show that of grads of four-year institutions, only 69% found employment in the first six months after graduation. There is a danger of falling into disillusionment, even self-destructive drug and other behaviors. Occupying Wall Street may be good for venting anger and blame, but it is a dead end. And it clouds your vision in terms of looking for realistic options.
It's true for all generations that each of us needs to build and develop a support system to be our convoy through life. It's important to nourish and develop your convoy of beloved, family, friends, and institutions that matter to you, like church, social or volunteer organizations. Our convoy supports us on our journey, may give us helpful tips, and shields us against "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."
Glenn Swogger Jr. MD
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