Thursday, July 08, 2010

Are We Supposed to Feel Sorry For This Chap?

by Daniel L. Bennett

 Aside from providing some interesting statistics that suggest that around 37 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed, with 23% not even looking for a job, The NY Times article entitled American Dream is Elusive for New Generation falls short of the expectations laid forth by the title. The article essentially tells the story of a young man, Scott Nicholson, who graduated from Colgate University with a BA in political science and history with no student debt. We're apparently supposed to feel sorry for this young man whose grandparents ponied up for the entire cost of his education and whose parents  make $175k a year and continue to pay for his rent, cell phone and insurance, because his expectations for his first entry level job out of college are too high. A college graduate who has lived at home, whose parents have paid his bills for 2 years, and has accumulated nearly zero work experience is probably less than desirable for potential employers.

We're told that Mr. Nicholson turned down a $40k a year job (not great money, but a job nonetheless) as an associate claims adjuster with an insurance company because he essentially felt that his academic preparation entitled him to a higher position.  Apparently, his college professors forgot to tell Nicholson that it is easier to find a job when you are employed than when you are unemployed. And, they forgot to inform him that you usually can't get promoted until you get your foot in the door and prove your worth. Thank goodness this fella doesn't have student loan debt to repay, or else he would be in real trouble. Perhaps this is part of the problem. If Nicholson had paid for some of his expenses in college (or after it), then maybe he would not have such a sense of entitlement and be willing to start at the bottom and try to work his way up. Apparently, the American Dream that anyone could make something of themselves by working hard has been modified that everyone is entitled to a good work required.

Now to be fair, we are told that Nicholson's performance in college was stellar, having made the Dean's List, but that doesn't translate into automatic real world success.  One still has to prove themselves in the workplace. Furthermore, Nicholson has shown some initiative in taking on odd jobs such as lawn care and putting up fences in his neighborhood. Perhaps this young man should take it upon himself to create his own job by expanding on the work that he is already doing. Persons operating their own lawn care or fence building companies can and do make very good money, along with the pleasure of being their own boss, setting their own schedule, and creating jobs for others. There is no better way to get real world business management experience than by starting and running your own business.

So come on Scotty, don't try to get sympathy because you haven't been able to find your ideal job, pick yourself up and make something of yourself through hard work. Being void of student debt and having a family that is supportive both emotionally and financially puts you in a position that is far better than many college grads who would love to get a job offer with a $40k salary attached.


Lydia said...

The article was really misleading - his performance actually was far from stellar - the Dean's Award is given to any student who earns above a 3.3 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) on a given semester. He didn't graduate with any honors (cum laude is awarded to all students with a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher). 45% of the 2008 graduating class did graduate with those honors or higher.

The entire article was incredibly embarrassing. Not all Colgate grads are lazy and entitled...

-'08 Colgate grad

Karen said...

His mother says he has a good work ethic and he claims that he worked hard in college but that doesn't jibe with what we've been told about him.

The classmates who did earn honors distinctions -- while working 20+ hours/week at a crappy jobs to supplement their loans -- are the ones with a good work ethic.

What did he do during summers at college? There was no mention of summer internships to get experience or make contacts. And I doubt that he would have refused a $40K job if he had ever done grunt work at his dad's company.

Now he's willing to do yard work for pocket money -- which is usually where 14-year olds start. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that he timed those jobs to days when the cleaning lady came so he didn't get in her way (instead of doing all the cleaning, shopping, and cooking for the household while he was there).

Scott is just so special: He couldn't take a job that isn't part of an elite management training program and has no interest in a military post that doesn't have the "sheen" of an elite program.

Reading the article was more painful than watching the foolish people on Judge Judy and I don't understand why anyone in the family would have agreed to be featured.

Overlook said...

Excellent commentary Daniel. If I had anything to add, I would. But I think you hit the nail on the head.