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Hey, Kid, Get a Job — If You Can

May 27, 2012
Mike Myer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Millions of young people are graduating from high school and college this spring, and congratulations are in order.

Or are they?

This is an awful time for a young person to be looking for work. The unemployment rate for Americans 18-19 years of age is 22.5 percent. You may be beaming with pride at that high school diploma in your hand, but it's not enough to convince many employers to give you a try.

If you're 20-24, perhaps just out of college, the prospects also are dim. The unemployment rate for that age group is 12.6 percent.

What to do, then, if you're just starting out and can't even get a start?

If you've decided to enter the job market just out of high school, the best advice is to take a job - any job. There's work to be found, despite the statistics, if you're willing to labor for minimum wage and, perhaps, doing something you'd rather not make a career.

Once you've landed a job, work as hard as you can. Trust me on this: It will pay off. When there's a promotion to be had - and it will happen, eventually - guess who'll get the nod?

High school isn't enough for the really good jobs, though. Even if you have to wear yourself out in night classes, further your education. Go to a community college or technical school. You'll gain skills - and you'll prove to your employer and to prospective ones that you're eager to learn and ready to work hard.

What about college grads who find their degrees are not passes to the good life?

Think about whether the B.S. or B.A. you have is worth anything in the job market. Being an expert in Shakespearean literature will, if accompanied by a dollar bill, buy you a cup of coffee these days.

If, after diligent search, you just can't find a job in your field, think about going back to school - not for an advanced degree in what really interests you, but for a bachelor's that will get you a job. Like literature? Try teaching.

Here's the key: Once, we told young people that if they'd just work hard, they would get ahead. Now, the advice has to be to worker harder to succeed.

If you do, you will - eventually.

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