I had a dream the other night where I stood on a podium in front of a vast audience of my peers. I was the envy of much of my generation (even if they didn’t know it yet). I told them,
“I am a fortunate man; rainbows fall on me where ever I go. I am a truly remarkable individual, and you are soon to be in awe of my presence.”
“But, why,” they ask “are you so lucky? Why should we be jealous of you? You aren’t a rock star, we have not seen you on television.”
The answer was simple. “I am employed. I have a job where I work and in turn they compensate me for my time with money.”
“That’s not so rare, many people have jobs!”
“Ah yes, but I am young. I’m only in my early 20’s.”
The crowd released a collective gasp, and they spoke in hushed tones to one another.
“We’ve heard about people like you,” The crowd replied, “Can we touch you?”
“Umm, no,” I said.
The crowd then proceeded to chase me until we came to a cliff, which I fell from waking up just as I was about to hit the ground.
Mine is not a typical situation. According to a recent Globe and Mail article, youth employment is shockingly low. Moreover, earlier this year, student employment was also at an all time low. This is mostly due to the recession (surprise). So how did I escape the plague of my generation? I mean unemployment, not H1N1 or Chlamydia. Statistically speaking, I should still be looking for work, maybe living with my parents. I had no large career aspirations upon graduation. I was, as my counsellor told me, like many students who weren’t going on to grad school. I was drifting aimlessly. While I have a dream job in mind (why yes, I would like to hold the Minister of Culture position without having to run in an election or be tied to the ruling party) I mostly wanted to pay the bills without working retail. Considering when the government announces the creation of new jobs, they tend not to be manufacturing or office-y jobs but low-level retail; I was in for an interesting ride.
I heeded my friends’ and relatives’ advice and applied to temp agencies. I was successfully accepted into those (I didn’t know I could type 60 words per minute as Queen and David Bowie put it “Under Pressure”). Yet, as I had no serious experience as a secretary, receptionist or administrative assistant, I was passed by. I have pure luck to thank for my current employment. I just happened to be in the right city at the right time, where a company was expanding. This coupled with a modicum of employment ambition led me into a great job opening, with opportunity for advancement beyond learning how to work a deep-fry.
While normally, I’d brush off some of the severity of a report like that in the Globe and Mail article, in this instance I can’t. I have friends with GPAs much more impressive than mine, and pages upon pages of extracurricular activities that are having trouble even getting interviews. Not to go too deeply into a political rant, but the federal government, according to the Globe and Mail article, isn’t worried about us. Instead, it is focusing its attentions on the older generations. But, if they lose us, where will Canada’s future lie?
The bottom line is that finding a job is a terrible situation, but there is hope for you dear blog reader! I will detail two escape plans I have plotted from the actions and advice of my friends and family. When I was still in university, I was talking to one of my professors who told me about the last big recession. According to him, as a result of the poor job market in the 90’s, there was an unexpected bubble of people who stayed in university and went on to post-grad work. Generation X has a disproportionate number of university professors as a result. I can’t vouch for any numbers that would justify his claim, but it makes sense.
This leads me to the first option: do as Obama says and “Stay in school”. Don’t do it because it’s cool; poverty comes hand in hand with education and doesn’t wear well. Keep hitting the books because if you do land a job right now you’ll likely be making minimum wage pouring coffee just like you did back in high school. So, rather than travel that avenue again, you may as well get some more education. It will probably come in handy once there are jobs available. Besides, book learnin’ never hurt no one!
The second option is one that has become more and more popular. Bail! Run! Get out while you still can! Go teach English overseas! They’ll pay us money! Grab your passport! Head to Korea, China, Japan, and teach those people a new language! The world (except for Canada) is our oyster!
These are some of the only jobs where you will actually be able to pay down or off entirely, your student loans. Plus, you have the added benefit of being in a cool new country. Teaching English appeals to my generation’s passion for affecting positive change in the global socio-political environment while still satisfying our self-interest. It’s win-win, so pack your bags! We’ll listen to the CBC on the Internet and imagine what our country could have been if they had hired us!
What? No, it’s ok go on without me. I’ll keep pushing paper and trying to make it safe for you to return.
What are your plans? Is finding a job a bigger stress than it should be? Already thinking of new ways to decorate your parents’ basement? What’s your game plan?