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Fork in the road

BY MICHAEL DALE-STEIN | NOVEMBER 30, 2009 7:20 AM

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I’m a senior, unfortunately.

In one semester, I will exit a realm that supports me wearing sweats to class all week and move to a world of half-Windsors and pleats.

Here’s the dire news facing us 20-somethings: The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports class of 2010 college graduates will expectantly face a 7 percent drop in hiring compared with 2009 grads. In addition, 40 percent of surveyed employers anticipate cutbacks, while just 17 percent seek to increase hiring.

I know what you’re thinking: “Quit being pessimistic, a single-digit hiring slump won’t affect me.”

Alas, my cohorts, further pruning of an already-spread-thin post-college market — which incurred a decrease over 21 percent last year — should seriously depress those wishing to get salaries. And hoping to localize the job hunt is chancy: Midwest markets expect to take on 3.2 percent fewer college grads. The best bet is to trek Northeast, the lone region predicting an increase. Great, so I might find a job in New England, only to face merciless living costs and claim bankruptcy six months later.

But enough whining; what are additional options for UI students?

Internships: an option skirting the line between education and occupation. The same research group that discouraged the class of 2010’s plans reports interns fare better in the lacking market. Although the threat of an unpaid internship may dampen one’s interest, the option presents itself as a vital alternative to grad school. But still, only 23 percent who applied for internships from the class of 2009 obtained one soon after graduating.

Comparatively, 19 percent of those applying for jobs in the same time period attained them.

Although there isn’t much discrepancy between intern and career searching, adequate viability exists to investigate interning.

The overarching option to circumnavigate employment woes is more school. If you’d rather live the life of Sisyphus — ceaselessly rolling a boulder up a hill — than toil to find an unattainable job, graduate school seems compelling. But before dropping Christmas money on Kaplan courses and lining up for every test ending in AT, realize one thing: Everybody nearing 120 credits has the exact same contingency plan.

In fact, UI College of Law applications are spilling over in excess. As of November, the UI’s law school has received approximately 230 applications — heaving in comparison with the 122 submissions at this time last year. UI officials report the trend may not translate nationwide because some law schools’ applications are increasing as others remain stagnant. Admissions officials ascribe the roughly two-to-one augment as consequential to recruitment and the recovering credit market.

But students of the millennial cohort aren’t palpably affected by recruitment tactics. And typically, the common undergrad takes action — sometimes arbitrarily — before mulling contingent factors (such as fiscal capability to attend graduate school).

Despite market reports and speculation, I think we are all inherently crippled with fear. Fear of failure, fear of living with our parents the next decade, and fear of impeding our post-college dreams to work as retail journeymen or pizza-delivery connoisseurs. And as a result of trepidation, multitudinous college graduates seek to nuzzle the comforting bosom of what they are experts in: school.

Wherever life takes us seniors next summer — further schooling, employment, or interning — we should expect and embrace the unexpected. And by accepting whatever is available, we are, in fact, acknowledging the realities of modern adulthood.


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