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Davis, California

Friday, May 24, 2024

Column: Fries, anyone?

Your few years of study will come to an end here. You’re all set to get that freshly-minted degree of yours. You’re all set to enter the world and jump-start your career as a yuppie (young urban professional). That’s the game plan for many of you, isn’t it? So, did you want fries with that?

Yeah, you’ll probably want those fries soon. Hate to say it (and it’s been said before), but getting that dream job and living on your own is just wishful thinking for many. Things look awfully grim with daunting unemployment rates.  An article in Time noted that unemployment rates for people under the age of 25 are as high as 54 percent. Now, that’s encouraging.

What’s one to do? Move back in with mom and pop? Many do. The same article highlighted a survey by a consulting firm, Twenty Something Inc., which found some 85 percent of graduates go back to holing up with their parents. Many of them had difficulty finding work, I imagine.

What gives? They’ve got the degree! They’re qualified! That’s only half the equation, buddy. You may have the necessary tools in your toolbox, but that doesn’t make you a pro. The missing puzzle pieces are experience and passion; some quirkiness doesn’t hurt either.

I’ve been on that boat before. Just sitting idle and twiddling my thumbs, thinking my life and career would take off for greener pastures after nabbing a degree. Luckily, I came to the realization that this isn’t going to do me much good, unless all I wanted to do was work as a drone in the retail sector or in food service, waving my degree and proclaiming, “I did it! I’m different!” Now I’ve got an internship lined up for the summer and an interview soon. It would seem as though I am on track, and hopefully I am.

Recently, I had the chance to take a tour and attend a Q&A session at the offices of IGN, a video game news and media website. During the Q&A session with the editors and staff, I heard more of the same when it came to hiring. Experience, experience, more experience and passion are what people look for.

Greg Miller, an editor, recollected how he, with a fresh degree in journalism, had applied about 12 times at IGN to no avail. And, it was all because he had nothing to show for himself – zip. So, he began writing, made himself a nice paper trail, and later found himself being hired the day after he applied at IGN for the last time.

When asked if he’s ever thought about trying to start a family and whether or not his salary as a writer worries him, Miller chuckled. He said that he wishes to never get older and that he doesn’t plan on having children, but he does know people who do have children and do this particular line of work. He said not to worry about the money too much so long as this is the career you enjoy.

Jennie Fissel, IGN’s “talent wrangler,” described how just about everyone looks the same on paper when sifting through hundreds of resumes. Fissel detailed how they’d recently hired an employee for their design division because her resume had an awesome logo on it. “We just had to have her,” said a coworker of Fissel’s. Of course, your mileage may vary in being able to look unique and fresh on your resume depending on your field of interest.

Don’t go thinking you’ve got it made in the shade because you’ve got a fancy degree coming your way. You’ve gone the distance to get it; I’m sure you can go a littler further to put it into practice. Do something! Don’t press your luck too far and settle for the fries. 

LARRY HINH believes in people! Believe in him at lthinh@ucdavis.edu. Need ideas where to get started? I know the perfect Wednesday columnist for you to talk to.


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