Too Soon to Celebrate?
Recent graduates enter a tough job market.
By George Zhang

Video: Xiao Lin, Unemployed College Graduate

Xiao Lin, 22, is currently unemployed.

He graduated from Stony Brook University with a Bachelor’s of Science in general psychology in May of 2010.

His days consist of waking up in the morning and looking for a job.

He uses sites such as Monster to post up his resume for companies to look at.

“I can’t afford to go back to school to get a Masters or anything.

I’m having enough trouble paying off my current debt,” he said.

Lin has been looking for jobs in human resources and internships that would help him gain knowledge in psychology.

Because he was unable to find a job according to his preferences, he had to broaden his approach.

He applied to the retail industry, stores such as  American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch, because it is a familiar field to him. While in university, Lin  worked at ESPRIT.

“As long as you make yourself known, there will be someone who wants you. It might not be the job that you want but, you have to take whatever comes your way at this point,” he said.

Lin isn’t the only one in New York looking for a job. He joins the other hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are also currently unemployed.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the unemployment rate in the United States is currently 9.8 percent. This is a staggering 15.1 million Americans that are out of work. Of these, about 12% have a college degree or higher, the bureau says.

New York State itself has 797,800 people out of work. This is 8.3% of New York State’s total work force, according to the state’s labor bureau.

Young adults have also been impacted by the financial crisis. Because of the current job market, many recent college graduates like Lin are having difficulty finding their first job in the field they studied in.

Chloe Daee also sits in the same group as Lin. At age 23, she has a Bachelor’s of Art in art history and graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz last May.

“I chose art history because I have a passion and interest for it. I’ve always been told that I would like my job a lot more if I liked what I studied. I didn’t think about how difficult it would be to find a job being an Art Historian.”

Like Lin, Daee is also in debt from college expenses. Although her debt is not as severe, it is still hard to pay it off without any source of income.

Daee had dreams of working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She wanted to conduct research and someday become a curator.

“I was hoping to get a job at a museum in New York such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I can’t really travel out of the state because of my family.”

Some graduates can look for work elsewhere, but Daee feels obligated to stay close at home to help her mom.

Being supported by only her mom since she was 14, Daee wants to take off some of the workload her mom has to carry.

Daee doesn’t just spend her time looking for a job. She picked up photography has a hobby and likes to capture images with meaning.

“I try and stay productive because there is only so much you can do online… and it’s not like you can keep applying to the same place.”

For now Lin and Daee are a part of those bleak labor statistics, working to be on the other side of the numbers.

Barbara Lambert, who is the deputy director at STARR Career Development Center at Baruch College, provided information about what is required of the graduates.

“You have to work on your interviewing skills, you have to network.” It’s how you impress the recruiter and how you make yourself stand out.

It’s important to show them that you are different from everybody else and how you are more qualified, she said.

“Always answer people. If anybody calls you about a job or an opportunity even if it’s not something you want, answer them.”

It seems as though the job market cannot keep up with the amount of students graduating each year.

Lambert does feel that it would be easier to get a job with the right qualifications. “The bar gets set higher and higher.”

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Because the amount of jobs available are decreasing, people are finding ways to be one step above the competition giving them the edge over another person.

It’s hard to obtain a job especially if you only apply to jobs online. There are some companies that want to see you in person and see how well you can communicate with them.

It’s unfortunate because recent graduates have the expectations of coming out of college and finding a job especially if they are in debt.

It’s important for graduates like Lin and Daee to stay resilient and optimistic. They may never know when their phone might ring for an interview or when an opportunity presents itself.

Daee stated, “Maybe my expectations were too high when I came out of college. I just hope that someday I’ll be able to do what I wanted to do.”