Now What? That is the title of a book by Ari King, an unemployed 2009 graduate of Wesleyan University with a $180,000 degree in Italian Studies. He spent the summer after graduation at his home in California thinking about what to do with his life. At summer’s end, with no job prospects, he headed to New York City thinking his opportunities would be better in a town with 8.4 million people.
A friend who was a senior at NYU offered him a place to stay with his five roommates. It was déjà vu all over again, but now with six roommates, not one. Sleeping bags come in handy in the city when there isn’t a couch available.
Each day he would scour Craigslist and elsewhere, looking for “jobs under every category from ‘Government’ and ‘Education’ to ‘Russian speaking Nanny’ to ‘Security Guard’.” He grew increasingly frustrated, with a gnawing feeling of defeat and anxiety. Even hospitality jobs, where a decent income from tips could be quite good, were scarce. Once a person landed such a job, they didn’t leave. With the unprosecuted malfeasance on Wall Street, everyone was playing it safe.
His “real world” wake-up call reaffirmed what I have been seeing for the last 25 years. Too many colleges, for one reason or another, do not prepare their students to bridge the gap from college to the real world very effectively. Of course, we cannot put the blame entirely on colleges. That is why I tell high school students that it is their responsibility to thoroughly research the advising and career services of the colleges they are considering. It is the all-important third ‘A’ in the AAA process. Plus, they must become a familiar face and known to the personnel in the career services offices no later than the second semester of freshman year. After all, what is college for?
Many people are unemployed or underemployed, not just recent college graduates. What does one do when one can’t get a job? Some may say, keep looking; don’t quit! Easy for them to say. But there is one thing that many bright people with initiative (college degree or not) are realizing; that if you can’t find a job or don’t like the one you have…create one!
But first, you have to look within yourself and identify honestly what you are good at. Ask yourself if you can use that natural strength to not only meet a need that people have but will pay you to fill it. For instance, Ari King enjoyed writing and his teachers recognized he had a flair for writing. He looked around his world. Why not write a guide book that will help college students prepare for life after college? He did not see many that addressed the issue. He thought “Would people be interested?” The answer, judging by these Amazon reviews, is yes!
While reading his book I was amazed at the majority of college graduates he interviewed who went to college with little thought put into how they were going to live and pay bills after college. Each graduate was asked what regrets he or she had and what could have been done differently. The majority said they did not use the career services office early enough (or at all) to find internships. No wonder so many were jobless upon graduation or working in jobs that a high school graduate would be qualified to do.
I recommend the book Now What? and encourage all students thinking about college or in college now to read it this summer…before they realize that the years in college are a waste of time and money. Contact us if you REALLY want to make sure college is a good investment.