Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Generation Ass-bitten.

The anxiety on campus is palpable; a wet, heavy blanket you could wring sweat out of. Senior grades are being submitted directly after Easter, and Commencement practices have begun. Several hundred young people are about to spread their wings and fly out in to a "real life" world of jobs and responsibility. This is the moment they've anticipated for the last four years! Freedom! Independence! Disposable income! Unfettered adulthood, in all its fabulosity! All their lives, they've bought in to the fairy tale: Go to a good school get a degree, get a good job.

The problem? The economy and the job market can best be described as "shit on toast" -- if toast weren't so God damned expensive, and if you could afford to fill the gas tank on your beater to get to the store. And after you've started paying off those student loans.

On-campus interviewing for entry-level, corporate sweatshop jobs has been sparse. Campus Counseling has been overwhelmed with stressed and depressed seniors. The job boards are empty save for the paper-printed, tiled 'goatse' that some enterprising frat d00d  wallpaper-glued to the cork.

The upperclassmen fall in to one of two categories:
  1. Drinking to self-medicate from the stress of having no job prospects lined up. They wander campus, mouths set in grim lines, and utter Poe-esque horror stories. They trade interview tips, power ties/accessories, networking links...to no avail. Even nepotism is failing them at this point. They are like dementors, sucking the hope and joy out of people who pass too close. The prospect of having to move back in with their parents and find a fast-food or Shore job terrifies them. The prospect of no job at all is unthinkable.
  2. Drinking in one last burst of 'apres moi, le deluge' nihilism and enjoying the last few weeks of responsibility-free hedonism. Watching them party non-stop, 24/7 is like watching some grand guignol fin de siecle. They are manic in their pursuit of ass, grass or alcohol. It's exhausting to witness. Local pharmacies are out of rubbers, Quell and KY jelly. Noise violations and alcohol write-ups are through the roof, safety officers have permanent scowls and if housekeeping has to clean up one more puddle of Jaeger vomit or Rumpleminze-tinged piss, they will riot and stab people with their broken broom handles.
There's a lot of fear and anger evident. This is their trial by fire; their youthful idealism and optimism is being trumped by reality. There was a lot of enthusiasm for Hope and Change a couple of years ago, and now there's a lot of discontent at broken promises and dashed expectations. The competition of jobs is fierce, they are up against people with decades of experience, and most of them are as unprepared for rejection as they were when they graduated from high school.

I suspect my campus is not unique in atmosphere right now. I wish I had some tidbits of positivity to pass on to them, but I'm having a hard time seeing any silver linings in the gathering thunderheads. If the economy doesn't turn around soon, the hard rain that's going to fall is going to sweep a shitload away.


  1. Very true, and sadly I don't see it getting any better any time soon! Good friend of mine's son is joining the Navy, as he has had NO luck on the job searches, even with a 4.0 from a 'good' school...

  2. My oldest is a sophomore, and I'm telling him to stay in college for as long as he can, and to get a degree in something employable. I don't know how many "I took a degree in Frech Renaissance Literature in college, but I know a little about computers" degrees I look at.

  3. A few corporations are hiring again---but not new grads whose ink is still wet on their degrees. My former employer is adding a few new jobs but only as contractor conversions. It's "try before you buy." And...contract houses aren't hiring new grads. They have tons of the out-of-work with much more experience and job skills.

    A term in the military is a good option as NFO said. In many ways, it may be the best option for the times.

  4. Perhaps the shock of entering the post-racial progressive paradise that is 2011 America may help promote a "reality-based" reaction from the new grads and soon-to-be-new-grads. But...

    Never forget that our forebears had the guts to cross and subdue a wilderness unlike anything dreamed-of in their past. Our kids are of strong stock - they will persevere. I worry more about the "gimme" generation and what will happen when "gimme" is answered by "no".


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