Youthful Enthusiasm Leaves Grads Jobless

This economy is tough for anyone trying to get a job. The worldwide recession has caused layoffs, cutbacks and an overall sense of desperation among the workforce. Although unemployment rates are slowly declining, there is still a fierce competition in the job market.

Young people especially are hurting from a lack of opportunity in the job market. Although the national unemployment rate has fallen to 8.9%, the rate for people ages 20-24 has reached a staggering 14.2%. With more people graduating with college degrees and less people retiring from the workforce, (worried that their Social Security benefits might not last), young people often miss out on solid job opporunities.

Young people (myself included) are often blessed (or cursed) with a boundless enthusiasm and optimism to make the world a better place. More and more job seekers are expressing the desire to help their communities and others around the world. Obama even referred to us as a “generation of activists” in his most recent State of the Union address.

This means that many young job hunters are turning to the public sector for a chance to make a difference. As reported by ABC News, John Hotard, a career consultant, states,

The world is a more global market place, and because it is more global many millenials want to get involved in public service permanently…They highly value career development where they can practice their strong commitment to social responsibility.

Although it is quite difficult to be hired, there are a few other options for young people hoping to begin a career in the public sector. Teach for America, for example, is a government program that sends recent college graduates to teach in underfunded public schools around the country, which can be a great opportunity to benefit well-meaning young people as well as struggling schools.

However, Teach for America (TFA) is facing criticism for placing underqualified youth in charge of classrooms that need experienced teachers. It is also sometimes seen as a way to cut costs by getting rid of expensive tenured teachers and replacing them with TFA teachers.

The Peace Corps is another option for young people who want to travel internationally. Peace Corps volunteers are placed in developing countries around the globe with ambitions of teaching English, fostering health services, creating sustainable industry and more. 

Critics of Peace Corps say that it focuses too much on perfecting America’s public image instead of creating real change in developing countries.

So how do young people make a difference in the public sector if they don’t agree with the methods of Teach for America and Peace Corps? That is the question that more and more young graduates are facing as they turn to the public sector to fulfill their need for activism.

It is possible we may have to make compromises. I would definitely include myself in the category of young people with a desire to make the world a better place. Almost a year after graduating from UCLA, I have had two amazing internships, but no job offers. Because I am competing with older, more experienced unemployed people, it is common to send out a resume and never receive a response. The job market is a daunting place.

How can enthusiastic post-grads find a niche in this stressful economy? Laura Dodd, author of Dig This Gig, recommends creating your own job. With the lack of professional positions available to young people, she suggests innovation as a way to realize the difference you want to see in the world (as reported by ABC News). As the world changes, young people must adapt with it to fulfill their lofty goals.

Related Stories:

Unemployment Rate Falls to 9.4%: Sign of a Turnaround?

The War on Voting

Why Don’t Young People Vote?


Photo courtesy of CarbonNYC via flickr


Patricia G.
Patricia G6 years ago

Optimism and positivity are very important. Live one day at a time. *LOVE*

Masha Samoilova
Past Member 6 years ago

Thanks, it's difficult for everyone and everyone is accepting less today, but staying optimistic is very important.

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado7 years ago

The government should provide jobs for out graduates especially those from vocational schools.

Sarah H.
Sarah H7 years ago

You left out AmeriCorps, which covers a number of organizations including VISTA, of which I was a part for a year after college. There is nothing wrong with doing this type of service, much like going into the Armed Services for a few years, to serve one's country. It should actually strengthen people before they head into the workforce, giving them great experience. The biggest problem right now is that Congress would rather cut funding for many of these programs than admit that they do a lot of good for many people without costing a lot of money in the long run.

Lika S.
Lika P7 years ago

We need to bring BACK some of our jobs. Look at the car makers that left the US, along with a shoe company, jeans and more. We're setting an terrible future for our kids and grandchildren.

monica r.
monica r7 years ago

If you "invent your own job", who will pay you?

By the way, TFA teachers are IN the union. They usually end up in the classrooms nobody else wants and fill openings that have gone unfilled in some cases for years. While it's true that they don't have years of experience, there surely is some value to putting a caring, enthusiastic and dedicated person in front of these classes. They get support to help become better teachers along the way, and the students they teach are traditionally HORRIBLY under-served and deserve to be cared about. What protects some of them from layoffs is the fact they are in the most challenging special ed rooms, but they can and do lose positions to school closings or down-sizings just the same. I don't think they are seen as a "threat" by other teachers.

larry s.
larry s7 years ago

Use unconventional tools and ideas to challenge the system of status-quo. The system, e.g., "Wall Street", is dysfunctional. Network with others to offer clear alternatives

Bernadette P.
berny p7 years ago

Stop emigration and you might be able to find jobs !

Carol S.
Carol S.7 years ago

This leads to the interesting situations like our Senator in RI who is all of 19 years old, won the elections, but whose actual "job" is as a dishwasher. He literally takes off his apron and puts on a suit to go to the state house!

Lynn C.
Lynn C7 years ago

The most promising thing in this whole mess is that there are so many young people who actually WANT to help others. That's quite a change from the previous generations, who had not much more ambition than to make the bucks - no matter how or what it took. We can certainly see what the gimme-more attitude has done.