| DIFFERENT BEATS: Despite Ivy League degrees some make music for a living. And not by choice |
When Stephanie Kelly, a 2009 graduate of the University of Florida, looked for a job in her chosen field of advertising, she found few prospects and even fewer takers. So now she has two jobs: as a part-time senior secretary at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville and a freelance gig writing for elfster.com, a secret Santa website.
But Kelly is not stressed out about the lack of a career path she spent four years preparing for. Instead, she has come to appreciate her life. I can cook and write at my own pace, she said. I kind of like that about my life.
Likewise, Amy Klein, who graduated from Harvard in 2007 with a degree in English literature, couldnt find a job in publishing. At one point, she had applied for an editorial assistant job at a magazine. Less than two weeks later, Conde Nast shut down that 68 year old magazine. So much for that job application, said Klein, now 26.
One night she bumped into a friend, who asked her to join a punk rock band, Titus Andronicus, as a guitarist. Once, that might have been considered professional suicide. But weighed against a dreary day job, music suddenly held considerable appeal. So last spring, she sublet her room in Brooklyn in New York and toured the country in an old Chevy minivan. Im fulfilling my artistic goals, Klein said.
Meet the members of what might be called generation limbo: highly educated 20-somethings whose careers are stuck in neutral, coping with dead-end jobs and listless prospects. And so they wait: for the economy to turn, for good jobs to materialise, for their lucky break. Some do so anxiously, wondering how they are going to pay their rent, their school loans, their living expenses — sometimes resorting to once-unthinkable government handouts.
We did everything we were supposed to, said Stephanie Morales, 23, who graduated from Dartmouth College in 2009 with hopes of working in the arts.
Instead, she ended up waiting tables at a Chart House restaurant in Weehawken, New Jersey, earning $2.17 an hour plus tips, to pay off her student loans.
What was the point of working so hard for 22 years if there was nothing out there? said Morales, who is now a paralegal and plans on attending law school.
Some of Morales' classmates have found themselves on welfare.
You dont expect someone who just spent four years in Ivy League schools to be on food stamps, said Morales, who estimates that a half-dozen of her friends are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
A few are even helping younger graduates figure out how to apply.
But then there are people like Kelly and Klein, who are more laissez-faire. With the job market still bleak, their motto might as well be: No career? No prospects? No worries! (Well, at least for the time being.)
After all,they are victims of bad timing. Kelly contrasted her Harvard classmates with the ones of her older sister, Lauren, who graduated from Harvard seven years earlier. Those graduates, she said, were career-obsessed and, helped along by a strong economy, aggressively pursued high-powered jobs right after graduation. (Lauren is a professor at Georgia State University.)
By comparison, Kelly said her classmates seemed resigned to waiting for the economic tides to turn.
Plenty of people work in bookstores and work in low-end administrative jobs, even though they have a Harvard degree, she said. They are thinking more in terms of creating their own kinds of life that interests them, rather than following a conventional idea of success and job security. The numbers are not encouraging. About 14 per cent of those who graduated from college between 2006 and 2010 are looking for full-time jobs, either because they are unemployed or have only part-time jobs, according to a survey of 571 recent college graduates released in May by the Heldrich Center at Rutgers.