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Friday, December 8, 2023


Banking on broken dreams

Among those devastated by the Great Recession, students have had to pay a heavy price, as evidenced by the growing number of unemployed graduates. According to an April 22 report in The Huffington Post, nearly half of 2012’s undergraduates faced joblessness after getting their diplomas.

Many undergraduates who did find paychecks were underemployed, grinding coffee beans or bagging groceries. If last year proved anything, it’s that former students are drowning in the job pool, trading prospects of furnished apartments for childhood bedrooms. To many graduates, it’s a future darker than unemployment itself. It’s a future they would do just about anything to avoid.

In that light, banking doesn’t look like such a bad idea. Every year, at university job fairs across the country, big-money corporations play a heavy hand in enticing qualified students. Harvard economist Richard Freeman conceded that virtually any employment, even if undesirable, is better than no job at all.

“If you’re not sure what you’re going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college,” Freeman said.

Texas performs favorably in landing graduates into feasible positions nationwide. Among the more active employers are fiscal agencies, the money movers. What they have — and will continue to offer — are the headstones of upward mobility: job security, vacation time and benefits. The need for a broadcaster or a bricklayer may ebb and flow, but capitalists will always need handlers for their currency. Entry-level financing jobs aren’t just attainable, they’re reliable in the face of a wavering job market. It’s easy money.

It’s also a compromise. The late Marina Keegan hit the nail on the head in her description of disenchantment in a Nov. 9, 2011 article for The New York Times.

“Standing outside a freshman dorm, I couldn’t find a single student aspiring to be a banker — but at commencement this May, there’s a 50 percent chance I’ll be sitting next to one,” Keegan said.

It’s one thing for an individual to strive for something unattainable, but it’s another to settle on the first offer that comes along. There’s no game show to determine which consultant intern is in love with their job; it’s a quiz that hasn’t been taken. Yet, in the face of a wavering economy, with any number of job applications in recycling bins across the country, it isn’t inconceivable for there to be more than one.

There is no trickery here. Incompatible employment isn’t a new issue, or even a perilous one. It’s just that coming of age in an era where politicos approach the fiscal calendar with Easy Bake timers, the temporary routes offered harbor permanent implications. A temporary job has become less of a qualifier.

A lot of these careers are being picked up by dedicated, over-qualified prospects, some of whom have wanted nothing more than to land in a desk while others have been cheated. You can’t help but wonder if there’s any justice in following them.

Bryan Washington is an English sophomore and can be reached at [email protected].

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