Across the country this past week, students put their caps and gowns on for the culmination of their collegiate careers. College graduation is a benchmark moment in a person’s life, but the life we were once accustomed to is not as calculated as it used to be after the big day. In the past, getting a college education all but guaranteed you work in your desired professional field. More than ever, recent college grads are having a tough time trying to find work in their designated field and are traveling the path of a rolling stone. By definition, a rolling stone is a metaphor for something (or someone) that is always moving or changing. This terminology has been used in all walks of life but, most notably, it is the title of the infamous music magazine which covers the music industry top to bottom- an industry that is all about creativity and changing ideas.
However, the term still looms in the everyday sense for the recent college graduate. With the current state of the economy in the United States, companies are cutting costs at every turn. It’s interesting to note that there are an overwhelming amount of grads that are not working in their intended field, or even in a job that doesn’t require a college degree.
According to a recent survey done with 4,900 former customers of the online discount textbook site, Chegg, nearly half of the grads are working jobs that do not require a college degree. The Chegg survey verifies an earlier Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, the McKinsey findings, which revealed that 48% of employed U.S. college grads are employed in positions that require less than a four-year degree. (Source: Forbes.com)
Other recent grads have just changed their entire career path altogether. In this last year I have met many young graduates who face these similar problems. I’ve met a special education teacher now working in fashion, a business major who is now a fireman, and an English major who is a personal trainer.
So what can be done to change all of this? I say that you should stick with what you love and find any job connected with your passion. Don’t be afraid to start your own business even though you may need to start out with a temporary job supplementing your income. Look for weaknesses in your selected industry where things could be done better. Find a mentor to help you with your vision of contributing to the workforce and get it down on paper. Talk to people who may be interested to invest in your idea. Go to your parents, your relatives, and people in the business to pitch your ideas. You are the next generation of workforce. Take a part of who you are play some of it safe, but take another part and get risky. If something is uncomfortable (not illegal) it means you are growing. Again, a mentor will help you get through that. Keep talking and be responsible to keep those in the “need to know” aware of your ideas and plans so they can help you understand your needs. Pick your heads up, stop finger crawling for a few hours and talk to people.
In that same McKinsey study mentioned earlier, over half of those students said they regretted the major they had chosen and wish they selected another one. It’s not uncommon to feel that way if the passion is missing. Stay invested in your dreams, ideology and goals. Identify with who you are, what makes you who you are. We are in fact, all VERY different. How we think and how we act upon our thoughts is what makes us individually who we are.
People are making it work in any way that they can nowadays, and in a sense, aren’t we all a rolling stone? The business landscape is like the music industry that I spoke on earlier, and the ones who are thriving are those that are able to adapt to the evolution happening in our lives. Creativity is being embraced more than ever so take your fresh, invigorating minds and push through the noise and decide where you want to invest your time. Plant your feet, get your financial needs identified, and get to work building out your future. It’s a new age and while many say it is the toughest one yet for our new graduates, I say ignore the naysayers and embrace what makes you come alive. You will find a way to make money doing what you love.
*Also check out the Merrimack College Commencement Address from actor Charlie Day. It is absolutely hilarious, but also gives a sincere message to all the rolling stones out there.