College Graduates, Welcome

Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research
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Many – especially for the individuals that I continually interact with – are staring down the barrel of the “real-world” gun as commencement ceremonies near and college graduates are set to receive their degrees.

Well, my fellow millennials that are entering the workforce – in my view – remain willfully unprepared for the changes that are about to ensue for many of them. Naturally, I am speaking of getting that first “real” job. You can’t peg this argument merely on the ambition of new college graduates. Instead, the overall sentiment that degree programs only offer a fraction of what is needed to be marketable in a job market is not that far off from the truth.

Granted, you have exceptions. Millennials still remain – and will for some time – the most entrepreneurial living generation. Heck, I even was able to count on my ideas which lead me to the creation of my own start-up company specializing in political market research. Thousands of dollars in business loans and credit lines later, I am still kicking it.

For the traditional college graduate, on the other hand, such opportunities aren’t available immediately or sought after, whatsoever. According to a survey conducted by Hanover Research for McGraw-Hill, 83 percent of respondents (of whom are students graduating from undergraduate and graduate programs) “somewhat agree” that their majors will help them land a position starting out.

Though, in the same survey, 74 percent of respondents spent less than five hours a week searching for positions after college. Out of all the hours of the week, most students aren’t as focused, as they appear to be, in actually prompting the first wave of communication to potential employers. I blame this on the idea that most view millennials as an entitled species. For my millennial readers and followers, please feel free to disagree with me on this as you wish. However, the simple fact is that millennials are entering a workforce that is still commanded by older generations – particularly Generation X – who view the younger people as wastes of space. With that school of thought, older members of the workforce are going to put less of a work commitment on the entry-level millennials and will subjugate them to meticulous, repetitive tasks. Millennials shouldn’t adopt this mindset, whatsoever. But, they can’t enter the workforce with a 100 percent, broad-based approach that has wired them to think participation and success are mandatory and equal for all. This is not the truth, at all. No one is truly equal when it comes to the labor market. Ultimately, it is completion-based, as is other components or “real life.”

In order to be successful, especially after graduation, is to grow a pair (so to speak) and fight for your market share. Despite what most of my fellow millennials care to believe, at least politically, the capitalist system of the United States is the perfect stage for growth in their field. Granted, it won’t be easy. You have to work entirely too hard, at times, but hard work pays off. Getting past how hard work can be, the successes outweigh the setbacks when looking at the output of a strong work ethic.

Take the degree you earned for example: long nights, long drunken nights (joking, or am I?), dangerous levels of caffeine, and consistently strained periods of studying for a 4 to 5 year span of time… all for this piece of parchment paper that says you know how to weave baskets… is that not hard work to some? You can say the same for the people who went out on a whim and showed the world their idea. Some failed – yes. However, many succeeded and are still doing so as you read this.

Nevertheless, I have to tie this argument back to the concept of individual freedom. Yeah, it applies to about everything. In the case of entering the higher echelons of the workforce with a newly acquired college degree is still an honor and a vital accomplishment. Minus the awful state of the student debt crisis (I will save that for another time), you can easily say that your now in a freer state of being. Essentially, you can choose to work in virtually any field or industry you qualify for and make your American dream happen the way you want it too. The only setback: you have to do the work. Nothing is free. Economic liberty and self-validation, coupled together, can help every single person in a plethora of ways. It all takes motivation to do so.

That is the glory of the free market. Anyone, obviously within reason and the rule of law, can and be what they want. But, college graduates need to come to term with the state of reality. That state of reality is that there, in most cases, are no longer any handouts and you have to start supporting yourself on the terms of your future employers. What a horrid smack in the face, am I right?

Even though I painted a somewhat optimistic image of succeeding in a free market, the thick of it is rooted back to ambition and the ability to adapt to an ever-changing economy. This is especially the case when there are no more safety nets (unless you want to be stuck on welfare for the next decade) and the actions you make effect the overall outcome of your life. Your professor’s propagation of a socialist utopia is a pipe dream now as your safe spaces are fading away.

Welcome to the real world and good luck. I mean it.