Dear Lucy: My daughter just graduated college in May with a bachelor's degree. She went to job fairs before graduation and like many of her friends started job hunting back in January. We struggled and sacrificed to get her through college and have the debt to show for it. We were led to believe that a college degree was her ticket to a good paying job. Maybe that is just not true anymore. Most of her friends have the same problem. How can I encourage her and myself?
Dear RB: According to a survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in early June, over half of this year's graduates had not received job offers. Yet, I believe that some studies show that college graduates still do better in the long run than those without college degrees.
Getting a degree is financially expensive and the pay off is not always immediate. It is also believed that the new gold standard is not the bachelor's degree but the master's. More time, more money. You did not say what your daughter's degree was in. Another study has it that choosing the right field is far more critical than ever. In spite of all of this, education is still a good thing and deserves respect.
You asked for encouragement. As an executive I have had the privilege of hiring, advising and sometimes dismissing workers. I have had college graduates fresh out of school with a BS in Management boldly ask for a top management position. These same young people cannot provide evidence of work ethic and enter the door with a sense of entitlement and questionable language skills.
You said that you wanted your daughter to have a "ticket." I absolutely agree with you on that. A four-year degree today is often a ticket to the applicant pool. Today, that application is often on-line and can be comprised of hundreds of applicants for a single position. So, thinking of the degree as an admission ticket to the audition, here are some tips:
Knowing someone is still important. It can up the value of the ticket. But people are really funny about using their influence if they have not heard your young adult speak, or present themselves. It is a good idea to have your child meet and talk with the person being asked to intervene on their behalf. No embarrassment, no regrets.
Can your daughter provide a history of having worked while in school or during summers? If not, can she talk about any community, social or church projects she participated in that allowed her to demonstrate work ethic, leadership skills, initiative, dependability, consistency. Finishing school in 4-5 years is in itself a show of initiative, determination and mental ability. But that needs to be talked about in a way that demonstrates drive.
If the first two above cannot be worked out, then don't despair. Take a look at certifications in something that she finds interesting while she sorts out how to afford more education and listen to what the Lord is saying.
Often, young people simply have not figured out the thing that will bring them joy while using a gift or talent that staring them in the face! While she waits, encourage her to take the very best job that she can find and make herself indispensable. Practicing kindness, courtesy, dependability, dignity and trustworthiness is such a lost art that if she takes these into any position she will soon be noticed and valued. She may also be noticed by someone with the power to offer her a better job.
You did not make a mistake with your sacrifice. My point is not that your daughter should just make do. The story of Ruth in the Bible is not just about a woman snaring a good husband. The story of Ruth and Boaz could also be a metaphor for the position that all of us long for...to be important, valued and useful to our families and our communities. I am sure that this is what you see for your daughter. Read the book of Ruth with new eyes and you might see something new.
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS." Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)