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May 30th, 2009
08:58 AM ET

Out of school, out of work

Graduation day is one of the highest points of anyone’s life. And for their parents and loved ones too.

That apex hits a particular crescendo when a college graduate can say he or she knows what is coming next: heading off to the dream job they worked so hard in school to land.

Sadly, fewer college grads these days are familiar with that sense of surety. The jobs for today’s grads are few and far between. Which is why we are inviting you, Grad, to share your employment hunting experiences with us.

Then join us at 4PM as we dedicate our show to this topic.

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Russ Kula

    Yea rite no jobs for out of the school youth. I know times are bad and businesses are doing cutbacks but so were they 30 years ago. I took any job "crappy job" that would put money in my pocket that would pay for me and my hunny to go out, gasoline throw a few bucks to my Mom once in a while since I was living at home. dont laugh "Crappy jobs" those are the jobs that made American and made America. and if the youth doesnt want them then forieghners will continue to flood the country and take them. to them its good pickens. Trueth of the matter is no one wants to do any work today that will require sweat and discomfort and think they are going to further their education and land a seat at a large cooperation sitting in front of a computer wearing a tie. WAKEUP! those jobs have gone to people that will sit on their butt and have the intelligence to do the job for waaaaaaaaaay less. bottom line if your that picky about where you work stay home and starve.

    May 29, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  2. Andre Adams

    My name is Andre Adams, Im originally from California and I’m currently a student at Tennessee State University studying mechanical engineering here in Nashville, TN and I’m having a lot of problems trying to get a job due to my background check. A couple of years ago, I was arrested for having altered temporary tags. I paid the fine, went to court and plead no lo contendre to the misdemeanor offense as I was deeply regretful for the situation. It was a mistake on my part an early time in my life and since then I haven’t had any offenses and have stayed on the straight and narrow path ever since. Previous to this time, 21 years in the making I had never been involved in any illegal activity, traffic tickets or anything. My record was extremely clean. Now I’m in the process of looking for jobs and careers in my field and I’m having a hard time due to this misdemeanor that is showing on my record, and especially in this day and time I am very afraid that I will be denied by all prospective employers due to this offense that is so far behind me now. I am requesting some sort of legal exoneration, or expungement of this, or at least that it not be used in my criminal background as a hiring criteria for grounds of employment or denial. Just to add, I have always been a citizen of good standing, would love to continue to contribute to society and help the country in what ever way I could, but employment is a big part of that.

    Everytime an ex-offender cannot find work, housing, or licensing for a profession and better way of life...he or she is placed in a desperate life situation. Depression and Anger fills them. If this person finds him/herself without hope of a better future or any future for that matter, then you can most assuredly expect the creation of more criminal activity, more hatred towards an unforgiving society, and a skyrocketing repeat offender recidivism rate in our national prison systems. Give people the true freedom to better their lives without fear of the oppression and discrimination that comes from looking into their backgrounds and holding this against them for the rest of
    their lives. Now Im not saying to do away with background checks because they protect the company and other employees, but especially for people with misdemeanor offenses give them some type of recourse to find work just like everyone else without a cloud over their head for an offense they did when they were being stupid. My life is on the right path and Im doing everything Im supposed to, to be a good citizen, pursuing my bachelors degree and later on my masters degree in mechanical engineering. The worst thing that could happen to me is to be denied employment for an offense that is years old of which I have paid my debt to society.

    May 30, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  3. Thomas

    I just graduated with a double major and I am going to likely take a position as a doorman in New York. I would like to work in the music industry because it is my passion, but I am forced to live with my father for the summer. My debt is not too bad but I have to wait until the loan bill goes into effect in July to consolidate it all. Times are tough and tightening up is what we must do.

    May 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  4. Jeff Stark

    Hello Fredricka,

    Can CNN quit making it sound like these kids are in such dire straights because they are out of school and out of work. Remember, just because you are a college grad does not mean you have experience–oh wait, they don't have any experience! The graduates must realize they will most likely have to work a crappy job and work their way to the mid-level or higher before they get promoted to the better job position. Fredricka, when you graduated with your journalism degree, were you immediately placed on CNN? Probably not. So let's be real, have these students suck it up and do like the rest of us did and start at the bottom.

    Soon to be retired from the US Air force with 28 years of experience.

    Jeff Stark

    May 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  5. Sarah Goldbaum

    I live in the Los Angeles area, and I went to NYU for college. Even though I'm a member of the Class of 2009, I finished all my requirements a year early last September. I graduated with honors. I moved back home almost immediately, but have not been able to get a job.

    Because I went to New York directly after high school, I never bought a car. Because my mother works for the state and is on furlough two days per month (and may face and additional 5% cut in pay), she couldn't afford to buy me one. I take the bus, but most graphic design jobs tend to be in the western half of LA and that area is not very accessible from where I live. I sought other jobs working at a couple local malls, but there were none available. I applied to some office jobs, but I wasn't hired because I was overqualified. I do some freelance design work, but it doesn't cover even half of my living expenses. Luckily, my mother's health insurance will cover me until I turn 23, so I have another year and a half to use it.

    After attending NYU and getting virtually no financial aid there, I owe near to $90k in student loans. I currently have a forbearance, but I only have up to six more months left on it before I will have to pay or default. The monthly payment is about $600 plus another $500 in interest. Because of the loan payments, I will have to live with family until I pay them off. I worked all through college part-time as a designer and doing freelance, saving half of each paycheck. I've used up nearly all my savings at this point and am worried that I will default on my loans.

    My mom recently pulled out a lot of money from her savings to help buy me a used car. It's helpful, but at the same time, I can't afford the gas to make longer commutes, while we also can't afford to move, let alone make our current rent plus living expenses. For the first time since September, I'm going through interviews for a permanent, full-time job. If I don't get this one, I really don't know what I'll do.

    May 30, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  6. Michelle C.

    I am happy to see that CNN is dedicating time to address the situation that recent graduates and new graduates are facing.

    As an undergraduate business student I took classes on leadership, reviewed case studies of successful companies, and learned about corporate social responsibility and the role entrepreneurs can have in a down economy. I learned about the jobs I wanted, and my “dream jobs”, yet quickly realized that those jobs are not available. Even the entry level jobs that would lead to that “dream job” now have twice the amount of applicants. Although proud of my internships and class projects, those do not compete against qualified candidates that were recently laid off.

    Even though we (Graduates and recent graduates) may not have mortgages to pay or families to support, we will soon. We are the future business leaders and workers, and it is unfortunate that so many of us are struggling to begin our careers or secure those jobs that will be the stepping stone to where we want to be. I have friends that are moving home, going back to school, and are moving to teach English abroad.

    I am fortunate to have a job lined up, and it is because I have realized the importance of networking, as it really is all about “who you know”. I am hopeful that things will pick up, new industries will thrive, and that companies will once again hire recent graduates.

    May 30, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  7. J. Recinos

    I began looking for a job months prior to graduation. Now, about half a year later, I'm still looking for a job that will use my experience and degrees...

    I am at a loss... it seems as though the American dream is slipping away and there is nothing I can do about it. I served in the Air Force as a medic, have a B.A. in Psychology, a Graduate Certificate in Organizational Leadership, and a Master's in Health Administration and the desire and drive to excel if only there was someone out there willing to take a chance on me.

    May 30, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  8. Ashley

    While I do appreciate the generous gift that Jeff Stark has given our country, he does not know what he is talking about by saying that college graduates do not have any experience in the job field. I am a recent college graduate who has experience in the field I graduated from. However, I do not feel that this has helped my career opportunities and that it is not enough experience to help land me jobs that I have knowledge for. Job search engines are the worst thing for finding real jobs. It seems like recent college graduates will be forced to flip burgers until the economy stabilizes, people with 30+ years can retire, people with "real" experience can be promoted, and the little, "unexperienced" college graduates can FINALLY have an "adult" job.

    May 30, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  9. Brian Sullivan

    Hey Fredricka,
    Thanks for dedicating the time on the show to us graduates! It seems like any job fair meant for us ends up having candidates with experience showing up. I just graduated from Appalachian State with a double degree in Marketing and Psychology, thinking that I had tailored an education to land a job that I wanted. Unfortunately, I'm going to move back home to Charlotte and try and battle my way into a job. What can us graduates do to compete against others with years of experience?

    ...Or better yet, want to give me a job?? I'll take an internship as well! I make a great cup of coffee!

    May 30, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  10. Joshua from Chicago

    I'm a graduate student in international education (study abroad, international student advising) and I've been searching for a job for about a year. The most frustrating thing is "experience." How do I get the experience I need if no one will hire me because I don't have enough experience? Plus, with few jobs openings, more people who are better qualified are getting picked for interviews. The only thing I can do is still send out my resume. Good luck to everyone!

    May 30, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  11. Raj

    It's all about the hustle. College grads who wait until the last month before graduation will not find a job. Job search starts in sophomore year, with networking, summer internships, academic research involvement, etc. Currently only the hustlers are getting hired.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  12. Steve in Najaf Iraq

    I have been watching these news feeds about kids graduating but not having any jobs to go to. I was wondering why nobody is suggesting the military for these kids. Its 4 years with a promised paycheck with health and dental benefits. Why is nobody trying to go that route? Are we as Americans really that scared to go to war?

    May 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  13. Matt F.

    I will not be graduating this spring but I'm not far off. I was wondering in this economy, would it be smart to just re-enroll for my masters and hope the economy is better when I get out?

    May 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  14. Sarah

    I recently graduated from college with a degree in Interior Design. I started my job search back in October, and finally found a job in the beginning of April. The pay is only a tiny bit more than I was making at my part-time job, but I knew that the market is tougher than ever so I was just grateful to have a job. I cannot afford rent in the city that I am in, so I had to move back in with parents, which was a huge adjustment but a necessary one.

    I think that we, the class of 2009, are actually fortunate to be in such a tough market. As new graduates, we don't really have that much to lose. Most of us don't have families to support or mortgages to pay, and for that, I am thankful that I am as young as I am with the market the way it is.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  15. M H Wallace

    I'm a 61-year old pharmacist, retired since 2000. I get an average of three job offers a week. I highly recommend kids who are entering college to forego those useless BA degrees in Social silliness and instead take a BS in chemistry, physics, and engineering. Or perhaps college is not the route you should choose at all. When your water heater self destructs in the middle of the night uou don't call a psychologist, you call a plumber. In short, learn to do something people might actually need.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  16. Margie Gaffney

    My daughter, in her last semester of college, took a course in resume writing. I believe it was without credit but in the long run it was worth it. She wrote dozens of resumes, sent them out to the city in which she knew she wanted to live, and by the time she graduated she had numerous appointments. She took a job that she knew she would stay with for a year because she didn't want to jump from job to job in her first year out of college.
    In ten years she has had 3 jobs and each time climbed the "ladder" and now has the job she loves.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  17. Jeff

    One piece of advice for graduating college students in this economic climate is to realize that you may not get the job you want right out of college, do anything you have to for survival and paying bills even if it means taking the doorman job, somtimes you have to take a step backward before you can take a step forward as I've had to many times.

    I'm a college student from California attending school in San Francisco, I am 20 years old and supporting myself fully while working fulltime in the banking industry. I don't have my degree yet but I've very hard for what I have and I'm far from my true goals.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  18. luke

    True, it seems the bottom line keeps coming down to experience. I have graduated with a degree in graphic design and advertising, which seems to be a worthless degree right now. After internships and a versatile portfolio, it seems my experience is not going to land me a job besides catching a freelance project here and there. Frustrating, but part of it.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  19. Bob

    Graduates are in a terrible situation with a declining job market and shackled with debt from loans. In many cases they are enslaved in debt. for as far as the eye can see Why are universities inceasing tuition in these times without cutting back in their budgets, while not asking professors to take a pay cut.. The burden that some students will carry forward with their studnt loans is immense and cannot be relinquished via any bankruptcy proceeding. Some Students would be better off seeking votech/Trade careers, plumbing, electrical, mechanical,for example, than some pie in the sky careers
    .Bob K
    Bedford, VA

    May 30, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  20. Marty Pisano

    Its frustrating to watch you all spend an hour talking about how deep a hole today's graduates are in AND then help them dig it deeper and depress them.

    The young woman journalist is a perfect person to show the promise of the American Dream. Shes a journalist, it does not means she has to work in news. It does mean that should should read or watch the news to see opportunities..

    Look at Chrysler teaming with FIAT. It means their employees and suppliers will be hungry for news. Improvise!, make contact with Italian and European graduates. Start a Website, give the people the info the want and she can have her debts paid in a year. Bottom line, you do not need a job .. YOU NEED A PURPOSE – LOOK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE..
    Marty from Stanhope NJ

    May 30, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  21. Rae

    As someone who works in academia I suggest that students do take advantage of their college's career center. Those who have already graduated and moved away from campus should check to see if their school's career center has an online presence.

    Students still in school should try to either volunteer or get a summer internship in their field to get some experience. I agree with Raj, it is all about networking and getting work experience while you are still in school.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  22. JC

    I'm 37 years old and graduating for College in June 08. I could't find a job in Atlanta so I moved to NC (greensboro) I did found a job but my boss let me go..... now I 'm out of work and about to lose my apt so I'm going to sale all of my stuff and just start driving I don't know what to do or where to go.... What hurts me the most is I give up everything for this degree and this is what I get......... where are the jobs what state and I have CDL class B nothing tell me what to do?

    May 30, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  23. Jenn

    I am glad you are doing a report on this subject. While I understand that the majority of college students graduating are young adults, what about the non-traditional college students. I currently plan on graduating in December with a double major and a minor.

    I feel as a non-traditional student with a family of my own to support I will have a harder time competing with the younger college students that have had the opportunity to take the internships that aren't in the same area of where they go to school, or those that have been able to join lots of college activities.

    Also, it seems that everything comes down to experience. Translation jobs and anything I find in the communication field all require experience. Some of that experience I have not had the chance to receive because of my situation with a child of my own.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  24. B. T.

    Please talk about legit working from home opportunities. Thanks. B. T.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  25. Anna Olson

    I have been unemployed since Sept of last year.
    I have decided to go back to school this fall. But
    I have what I think is a good idea to starting a business and that it would workwith this economy. But how do I go by finding out,
    how I could start a business?
    And if my idea is a good idea?

    May 30, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  26. Theodore J Leibowitz

    I am currently a student at SUNY Binghamton in Upstate New York. I am graduating next year in the spring of 2010 with my Bachelors in Human Development and due to the recession I am continuing on in the fall for my Masters in Public Administration. A College Erica Smith (an education student at SUNY Courtland) have started our own non-profit organization. To help students afford cost of graduation ceremonies. Every bit that we can do to help others counts. It also helps our resumes for the competition that we will be facing in two more years when we enter the job market.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  27. A. Noble

    I am also a recent college graduate, have also returned to the parental fold, am also looking at student loans/credit card debt. But while I could complain about my difficulty finding even a job. I'm optimistic.
    I'd prefer rather, to respond to some of the statistics you have posted, as well as some of the comments here on this blog.
    First of all, of the percentage of kids whom decided it was a good idea to put tuition on their credit cards, who were they looking to for this financial advice?! I don't know about them, but I know my c.c.'s interest rates aren't nearly as good as my sub/unsub. loans! Have they not heard of financial aid? Or did they just decide to go to an overwhelmingly expensive school, live beyond their means, and to heck with the future repercussions?!
    That aside, I've got to respond to Mr. Stark above. Sir, I appreciate your service for our country and the amount of hard work it takes to serve for 28yrs. But can you honestly say you're in touch with the current situation here? You must not have a son/daughter who has recently graduated. I don't know anyone who expects to come out of school, with no experience, and be put as the CEO of a fortune 500 company! We're taking about entry level positions here sir. And let me tell you, they're just not out there like they were. I'd be perfectly content with a mailroom job. I see nothing wrong with earning my stripes. But don't assume we're crying for freebie handouts like the rest of bailout era corporations. We want a chance! By the way, a lot of us don't find it in out best interests to serve for the military these days.
    Though, they're not exactly turning away applicants.

    May 30, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  28. Jenna

    I've noticed that all the reports focusing on college grads not being able to find jobs focus on kids who are still in undergrad programs. The reports give ways to make finding a job easier, such as switching to an engineering major. However, as a recent grad from a psychology Master's program who hasn't the desire nor the finances to go back and get a "hard" degree, what am I to do? I couldn't get into a PhD program, psychology jobs are hard to come by if you don't already have a PhD, office jobs are hard to come by with out 5 years of experience, and entry level jobs don't pay enough for me to make my student loan payments and afford to pay rent (let alone eat). For all those out there in similar situations, where can we turn? Where's our simple "get an engineering degree" answer?

    May 30, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  29. Tiffany D

    Today's segment "Out of School, Out of Work" hit home. As a recent law graduate, I, too, am having an unfruitful job search. I graduated from one of the top law schools in Texas, and have gained a lot of legal experience by working a number of legal jobs during the school year and interning during the summers. I have leadership and honors on my resume, but the result is still the same: no job prospects. To highlight the effect of the economy on recent law graduates, AKA jobless lawyers, I was interviewed by the local news station, WFAA. (interview can be found at That interview was similar to the interview on today's show. I applaud CNN and other news channels who are giving a face to those who are negatively affected by the economy. Thank you.

    May 30, 2009 at 9:08 pm |
  30. Charles L. Morse Sr.

    I think one of the biggest failers in our education is our lack of making first two years collage free and a requirment . I think a student should be given a choice . Two years of required trade schooling at a collage level , or first two years of school toward a profession of choice . With that kind of choice and help . Our drop out rate might go down in our k-12 level . It could be a big payoff to our system in this country as well .

    May 31, 2009 at 6:25 am |
  31. Mark

    I am a recruiter for multiple science and engineering majors and have found several of the other posts completely accurate. Though the economy and job market are very hard to navigate, there are positions available to those that have planned and are ready to work. You are not owed a job for getting any degree like many kids graduating think. If you have an engineering or medical degree with a 3.0 or higher and some interpersonal skills you are more than likely fine. However many students think a 2.0 in English will get them a high paying career while they are unavailable to relocate, work long hours, or get their hands dirty. I have personally seen parents or career services personnel come to interviews and basically try to respond for the interviewee because they lack the motivation and communication skills. Hopefully this downturn will be a wake-up call to students, and we will find a completely different generation develop out of the mess facing employers today. Plan early, be flexible, perform at a high level, and maybe the U.S. workforce will regain a little of our past recognition as a worldwide powerhouse of talent.

    May 31, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  32. Lauren

    I would like to say that to the many people who have posted comments on here concerning the hierarchy of degrees and the unwillingness of youth workers to take jobs "lower" than their degree is that they have a very convoluted idea of what is really happening to students today. I am a graduate from Georgia Tech with a degree in International Affairs, which apparently to some citizens of this great Nation is a second class degree, or a degree in "social silliness" (even though Tech only offers B.S.'s most degrees like mine are B.A.'s). Yes, my degree is not engineering or chemistry, but I still worked my butt off to graduate with highest honors in a school where there is almost a 50% fail rate for the first year. Just because you (MH Wallace) may never need my services doesn't mean that someone else doesn't, for instance the FBI, DOD or NSA. A student should not have to spend thousands of dollars and man hours pursuing a degree they are not interested in just to make money. I chose my degree to pursue a path of international non-profit work realizing that I won't make nearly as much money as my engineering counterparts. But that is alright with me.

    And as far as critics saying that the youth aren't willing to work at jobs that are "entry-level" or below must not have been talking to anyone who desperately needs a job. I have applied for many jobs that require only a high school degree or at the most associates degrees. I feel that this is very reasonable given my intelligence and capacity to learn. If push comes to shove, I will go back to school before taking a minimum wage job at a fast food restaurant. And that is my right. Working at a fast food restaurant will not help my job search in further years like going back to school will. That is not being "picky", that is being intelligent and understanding cost versus benefit. In addition, a lot of minimum wage jobs will tell a recent graduate that because of their degree they are overqualified for the position they are applying for and subsequently will not hire them.

    For the majority of students it is not their fault that they cannot get a job. It is a tough world out there right now and I would have to say that about 99% of the students realize that. It just doesn't help that the stupidity of a few makes recent graduates feel even more at a disadvantage. I highly recommend that those who deem recent graduates as "ninnies and lazy" to take a walk in our shoes. Yes, we don't have mortgages but we do have $1200 a month student loan bills and no health insurance to worry about. So before anyone attempts to criticize the youth further I suggest they take a second to realize how scary it is for people with less life experience than them to be faced with such adversity.

    June 2, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  33. David G

    I can assure you that the "get an engineering degree" is not a safe haven either.

    I received my Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in January 2010. I was working in a large research group with numerous ties to the hydraulics industry. My field of research was in hydraulic hybrid vehicles. One of the main reasons for the companies to join the center was to be able to recruit the latest and greatest engineers coming out of the center. Beginning in about July 2009, I looked through all of those companies' websites and talked to a number of their representatives. They all said they'd love to hire me, but they couldn't–hiring freezes, etc.

    Meanwhile, I managed to land a job that is (loosely) tied to engineering, pipe organ building. It's a passion of mine, and it's fun. But the pay is terrible. Even though I love it, I won't be staying in this job a day longer than I have to. I want to actually use the education and thinking skills I honed for six years.

    Obviously I was delusional–I thought that hard work in high school, college, and grad school would automatically yield a solid, good paying job in engineering. I kept my nose to the grindstone and rarely partied. But I was wrong. If I knew today what I knew in June 2003 (hs graduation), I would have gone to a trade school. My younger brother is now 16. I'm struggling with what I should recommend to him.

    June 13, 2010 at 9:05 pm |