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2009 College Grads: We're the Lucky Ones

Joshua Sharp

Posted: Mar 9th 2009 10:26AM

Filed under: USC, The Economy, Recession on Campus

Bright Hall explores the far-reaching effects of the financial crisis on the youth and campuses of America. Click here for the full series.

Popular opinion suggests that the collegiate Class of 2009 picked the wrong year to enter the job market. My classmates and I joke that we are the luckiest graduates in recent history, happening to chance upon the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

But optimism has its benefits, and there are a few rays of hope which have been mostly overlooked in mainstream coverage of the economic crisis. (Full disclosure: As a graduating senior, it's hard for me to be objective on this.)

1. We have a unique skill set. Our understanding of emerging technologies and new media networks is a terrific advantage compounded by a lack of reliance on traditional industry formulas. From public relations to online publishing, many companies are looking for innovative new ways to attract attention, retain customers and improve revenue models.

One unemployed 55-year-old -- who, until recently, was a magazine editor with a six-figure salary -- is now taking an unpaid internship to learn Internet marketing techniques. Our generation has been raised in a high-tech environment, and our endless online activity may finally pay off.

2. We're cheap. Most college graduates expect little more than entry-level pay and an overwhelming workload, "commensurate upon experience" clauses notwithstanding. Conveniently enough, the companies which are firing high-salary employees typically end up with more work than the remaining staff can handle. Enter, cheap labor.

Some companies are resorting to unpaid internships to help manage the excess work. But for those employers choosing between an eager, inexpensive amateur and a budget-breaking veteran, I'm willing to bet this job market leans toward the cheap rookie with potential.

3. Searching is easier than ever. The job-hunt toolbox now includes a number of new resources driven by technologies which were previously unavailable or underdeveloped. We can search through comprehensive job sites (CareerBuilder,, a wide array of niche sites (MediaBistro,, or subscribe to a handful of semi-exclusive e-mail lists built on personal networking connections. New resume creation sites offer flexible multimedia capabilities, though these have yet to gain significant traction (VisualCV, ResumeBear).

Another idea is to create a custom website, which introduces both opportunities and risks (Six Rules for Personal Resume Web Sites). Excited by this platform's potential, I recently bought a domain to aid my own job search. The site hosts my resume along with a few writing samples and multimedia clips, but its actual impact on employment prospects, if any, is difficult to quantify.

* * *

Searching for a job in our current economic climate is certainly stressful, especially for college seniors looking at full-time positions. But with new tools, a fresh message and competitive value, we may be better equipped than most to traverse this rocky terrain.

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