On Student Unemployment

“Being told wait is worse than being told no.”


I overheard this from a coffee shop conversation about being on the hunt for employment. The frustrated man, a recent graduate from Georgia Tech with a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, explained the slim job market in his chosen field of study.


There’s nothing more fearful for students than spending four years (or more) of time and money on a degree that won’t start your career.


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 13.1 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds (millennials) are unemployed – well above the national average of 7.8 percent. Research from the Economic Policy Institute reported that Georgia’s 2011 unemployment rate for “workers under 25” was at 18.6 percent. Compared to Georgia’s current 8.6 percent for overall unemployment, it’s probably not a far stretch to say that the majority of the underemployed consists of millennials.


Welcome to the wonderful world of being an adult, no one said this was going to be easy. Sure, you can eat Girl Scout Cookies for dinner, but – at $3.50 a box – that’s all you’ll be eating as a college student.


As a journalist, I hear that I’m going into a “dying field” almost every time I tell someone my major. And, believe me, it gets old.


Given few exceptions, the job market is bad for everyone. Based on some of my recent friends who’ve graduated, I think a major contributing factor to this millennial unemployment rate has to do with this generation of students who are just getting a degree without any forethought on what the actually want to do after college.


Then, they’re stuck with a degree they don’t want, in a field that they don’t like.


But the truth is, your chances of employment drastically increase with a degree. How much harder do you think it is for someone who has no education, has a disability, and no means to go back to school? Let’s compare that stat to the millennials and see who comes out ahead.


To put things into perspective – According to a study by Georgetown University, the unemployment rate of recent college graduates was 6.8 percent and 4.5 percent for all graduates.


“Hurry up and wait” was a key theme when I served on active duty in the Army. Basically, you were told to go do something and had to wait on the system logistics to catch up with your orders.


Well, this unemployment issue is no different. I’ll agree that it’s not the most pleasant of circumstances, but the millennial generation just needs to toughen up.


The future is for those who are willing to put in more and get less. That’s how it’s always been.


You will often find that persistence pays off.