College Student Debt In This Economy Stunted My Career

by Andrew
(Seattle, Washington)

Is your career future hanging by a thread today?

Is your career future hanging by a thread today?

College student debt and starting my career have made for a lethal mix. The Great Recession has had something wicked to do with it...

I hope all of us graduates have come to learn some good lessons about better management of our finances and a new work ethic, or we're going to be paupers for the rest of our days. Here's what I mean.

When you look at what our society has been going through in the last 5 years or so since the real estate bubble busted, you see that employers have been trying to do more work with fewer employees. That's the typical downsize situation, right?

But more important than that is that they've laid off a bunch of people that they've also simply chosen not to rehire. Why?

I think that employers have chosen to stay smaller in size. But that's because they really don't have much of an alternative. The economy is not really growing strong or fast.

Only the government sector is hiring strong. That's where money is going right now. But with fewer tax payers employed, I can't see how those government jobs are going to stay with us long-term either.

Any way, private employers have gotten used to being smaller than they were a few years ago and they're not growing, so they're not hiring the mass of unemployed people out there right now. And a lot of those people are graduates like me.

With so many people thrown out of work and not finding replacement work, those who still have 40 hours of work available to them per week are hanging on for dear life to those jobs, no matter how miserable they might be in them. And all of us have become slightly more cost-conscious in all aspects of our lives.

Still I think that perhaps those who have learned the most about how bad it is to have a huge debt burden on our shoulders when just starting out in our careers are the people fresh out of school like me.

We're the job seekers who have been on the worst side of the bridge getting washed out from under us.
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Fewer entry level opportunities and also an increasing number of job seekers have forced us to concentrate on every aspect of our career to determine how best to compete for what are incredibly difficult jobs to get.

If I had to sum up the most important lesson that I've learned, it is that I've been too lazy all my life to really think seriously about what it really takes to be an independent adult.

Now that I'm competing with 30 and 40 year-olds for a job that I thought when I was in high school that I'd be entitled to have because I was young and just starting out, now I feel like I never understood that I'd need far more than a college degree to start a successful career.

These guys have experience. And they want my job?

Now that I think I might have to default on my loans because I can't make the monthly payments and the interest keeps piling up but I know that I'll never be able to get rid of these loans via bankruptcy, I feel trapped.

Now that I'm not getting any experience in my area of interest and I think that I'm becoming less and less marketable because of an on-going lack of experience, now I think my career is stunted for good.

If I didn't have my parents, I don't know what I'd do. At least I get along with them and they are still willing to let me live with them, even though they're not too happy about it.

But I'm ashamed of my big failure and I really don't know what to do any more.

My mom tells me that she is worried to see me staring all day at a computer screen or just going out with friends. And at least my dad is not unemployed. But I fear what my home would be like if he lost his job and I continued without being able to find a job myself.

I feel so stuck.

----- Arturo's Reply to Andrew -----

Andrew, you're a very bright young man. You've managed to summarize very effectively a very serious situation facing many of your peers, yet unlike many of them, you're owning up to what you should.

I'm glad to know that you still have your parents' support. Be grateful and make the most of it. Consider indeed what your situation would be like if you became a burden to them, were your father to lose his job, as you said.

You said that you're competing with 30 and 40 year-olds for jobs that you thought you'd be entitled to once you finished college. This is not unusual. In fact, this is common place in many parts of the world where economic growth stagnates.

It is one of the main reasons why very often families combine resources to initiate entrepreneurial ventures rather than have father and son in a small town compete for 1 of the very few available jobs at a local factory, for example.

You're seeing this same dynamic play out in a grander scale at a national level in what is the worst economy since the Great Depression.

I believe that this well-tried and proven method of breaking through economic malaise that I've just mentioned – entrepreneurship – is a remedy that may work for you, especially given your age and your parents' support of you.

Clearly you have skills that are marketable. You write well and you have a good heard on your shoulders. What you seem to lack on first impression is a vision of your future.

You said repeatedly that you feel stunted or stuck. However, you also speak of laziness, burning time in front of a computer or with friends.

Time is the one resource that we all receive an equal allocation of every day that we're alive: 24 hours. What are you doing with each allocation to fulfill the mission that you have in life to accomplish? And how are you using it thus to bring into reality a vision for your life?

These 2 questions transcend the typical topic of career. It gets down to the essentials of your existence. What are you here on earth to accomplish?

Answer me that one question and you will be in the most optimal position to begin taking on the world and removing the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that now hold you back, including debt that you feel you cannot repay right now.

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