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College Seniors Leaving Jobs to Search for Employment

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

In an e-mail to fellow student workers in a university office, my colleague penned a letter which was at once both sad and terrifically ironic.

"I'm having a much harder time finding a full-time job after graduation than I anticipated," my friend, a senior majoring in print journalism, wrote.

"Unfortunately, I am going to have to cut back on my hours ... in order to dedicate more time to the job search," she said, asking if anyone could pick up her Friday shift for the rest of the semester.

The mood among campus seniors hinges on whether one has plans for after graduation. With final exams approaching and graduation ceremonies only a few weeks away, a sense of anxiety is increasingly apparent -- and it's not just the print journalism majors who are struggling.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 13.9 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 24 were unemployed last month, well over the national average of 9 percent. Adults ages 25-34 face similar odds, with 10 percent unemployed.

The New York Times today rightly points out that even though older Americans have lower unemployment rates, they face longer periods of unemployment and are paid substantially less in new jobs.

But breaking into the job market is proving to be an especially difficult task in the current economic climate. Many college seniors have already completed one or more unpaid internships, and the idea of beginning another -- a common piece of advice -- is both unappealing and often financially impossible.

My friend's on-campus job is her third part-time position this semester, in addition to a full class schedule. With her apartment lease ending, she's searching for a new apartment, in which city she knows not, and faces dauntingly high security deposits upon reaching a decision.

Perhaps sleeping on the parents' couch in the interim isn't such a bad idea. But for graduates of an elite institution, the prospect of temporary unemployment despite a hard-earned four-year degree is only now fathomable in the incredulous minds of students.

And so, some seniors are cutting hours at their campus jobs ... to spend more time searching for employment.

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