Just last year a bunch of us were talking about the fact that a whole generation of young people had grown up never having witnessed a recession. Anyone born from about the late 1980s to now wouldn’t have seen one (or been old enough to appreciate the recession in the early 1990s). For them stuff mostly came easy – their parents had more disposable income than before, technology was accessible and pervasive and jobs were widely available.
I graduated from university in the depths of the early 1990s recession. I couldn’t get a job to save my life. I would say the majority of the people that I knew who graduated with me were taking jobs in retail or the service economy just to have an income. I sent out over 300 resumes and didn’t get a single bite. Not an interview. I have 70+ rejection letters stored in a trunk somewhere. NB Power, NBTel, Enterprise Miramichi, Esso, Irving, on and on – not even an interview. I did speak with an HR manager at NBTel who told me that had 100 qualified candidates for every available position and they preferred to hire those who graduated from local schools (I went to the states).
I ended up taking a six week, temporary job doing ‘spreadsheets’ for a government department. That department was Economic Development & Tourism. That six weeks evolved into three years and set me on the path (for better or worse) of my career today.
But that time struggling to find work (there was also a six month period of flipping burgers in Alberta and growing long hair) was important in my career development. It tought me not to take work for granted. It tought me the importance of hard work and – dare I say – self-sufficiency. I drove an old Toyota that was so crappy I bought it by giving the guy my Nintendo system.
Most of the kids today won’t wait a year or more just to get a job remotely close to their field of study as I did. But hopefully a little discomfort will do them some good.