Can college graduates create their own jobs

With the evidently increasing unemployement rate, there comes a time when you have to start thinking differently about what’s going on. Is it the recession or have the times changed?

Students that are about to finish college or the ones that have already graduated are faced with the situation that in most cases means they can’t find a real job no matter what. Although their parents might say: “It’s not how things were when we were young…”, it’s not a matter of political regime or recession. Everyone is freaking out (to put it mildly) about it, but it is because they are uninformed or because some things just aren’t taught in college; and it’s not their fault they don’t know.

So what does a modern young person have in her resume? She usually has a college degree, maybe some competitions and awards won along with that, and then a series of jobs that have nothing to do with each other, let alone with the degree. Sad? No. It’s just the picture of our time. I’ve read somewhere that an average person changes 3 careers and 10 jobs by the age of 40! Or something like that, I know some crazy numbers were in the game.

Hell, I know a 28 year old who has changed 14 jobs and I’m not takling about waiting tables at 14 different cafes.

Is entrepreneurship the answer? I know that entrepreneurship is looked at differently wherever you go in the world, but the general assumption is that either you are for it or you’re not. I don’t agree with that. We were all entrepreneurs not so long ago, when we traded things for living. Then industries came, the modern knowlegde worker (you) and it became something more or less abstract. You will say you need a lot of money or that competition is too strong, but none of it is an excuse. If you ask any successful entrepreneur, small or big, she will tell you there is nothing you can’t do if you have a good idea and if you learn a few things.

Entrepreneurship is not a renegade choice anymore. The old ways aren’t working anymore and no matter how much graduates would like to convince their parents that this is the way it is, they should stop making excuses for themselves and stop hiding behind their parents’ beliefs for their own sake.

What is a stable job anyway anymore? You can say entrepreneurship is risky, but I would ask you how is any job safe. You’ve heard it in the news, you’ve probably witnessed it among the people you know. When you loose your job, this is your current reality. Not a new job is sight and you need to do something about it. As a college graduate you don’t have that sense of urgency. While you’re waiting for a job that never seems to come, all you have is time. Entrepreneurship becomes a choice, maybe even a path. You have nothing to loose, do you?

Becoming an entrepreneur is not as challenging as it was before; the upfront cost are a lot lower. If nothing else, internet helps you set up a company for the price of a website. Besides, it can be used as a very effective tool for any business. College graduates are the ones who understand this the best, they are the early internet adopters. Because if they don’t, who does?

Anyone can spend time at home learning how to start their own business or how to create a website instead of meaningless web surfing and watching TV. For the most part you don’t need an office and your only way to get good cleints isn’t to work at some respectable firm for 10 years just to be able to say “you were there”. Plus, who knows what will happen with that firm that was considered successful the day you joined it; old business models are falling down rapidly as towers of cards and new types of businesses are pushing forward thousands of new niches as we speak.

On the other hand, if you need a shop, you can work your way up. Start from home or with an online shop. Sometimes you will need to load up with patience. You probably won’t have everything from the start, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

If you only look around, you will be able to find many people in their 20s who have set up their companies and who are successful at what they do. From being able to afford a normal life, to creating your own schedule and be under a lot less stress, to creating a seven figure business.

It all starts with you; what is your goal? From being able to afford your own place and move away from your parents to bringing your great idea to the market and turning something you’re passionate about into a business.

There are not so many great jobs that can be provided to you by others. If you studied foreign languages, unless you want to be an official translator in Bruxelles for the EU, you can start your own business; a travel agency, a translation firm… If you are a designer there is nothing stopping you from choosing what you like the most and building a business around that. If you studied film, photography, architectre, economy, you can always start something great on your own. You can do what you love, start it very lowcost and start earning money from it.

But a lot of graduates are still conserned about not knowing whether what they studied is what they actually want to do for a living. They discover a new passion along the way, but they don’t take it seriously because they are already studying something else, or they try new things later. Our parents have taught us that a college degree is a valuable asset just as their parents have taught them. But they have also taught us that it is our way of making a good living. Obviously, times have changed. (More on that in the next post.) Since a college degree doesn’t secure you a (safe) job anymore, what is written on your college diploma doesn’t set you for life. It only becomes your “educational accessory”. Passion always comes first, whatever it is. Even if you don’t look at it that way, you will see a lot of people building businesses around something that is not even related to what they have studied. Like college covers all ideas and all great businesses; especially if you look at the last 5-10 years of internet boom, you will know what I mean.

There is nothing about business you can’t teach yourself easily and you don’t need to be technical to do any of it. What pays off today is the willingness to teach yourself things you don’t know, but need, the patience to build something on your own and the passion to keep up with it.

Even though there are no jobs in sight, even though you might be waiting tables or delivering pizza not to have to move back home, while you’re waiting for the job that is in your area of expertise, but that you don’t really like because it doesn’t allow you to do what you love (or the way you want to do it), the responsibility is on you. It might not seem fair, but it is your resposibility.

You know your options if you are brave enough to look at them. Nothing will change for you if you are not the one changing it. It’s time to wake up.

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There is an article from the NY Times that I read yesterday and which has finally convinced me to write this post after thinking about it for a long long time. You can read it here.

photo courtesy TimsStrategy

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