Always have a plan

Maybe I’m just a sour, old 2012 graduate, but something about their optimism irks me.

A few weeks ago I was sitting on the A bus, riding from the stadium back to the corner of Indiana Avenue and Third Street. I watched three young go-hards step on and sit in the front. It was just them and me on the bus, so I couldn’t help but overhear their awkward conversation.

There were two pretty girls and a nerdy-looking, acne-ridden fellow who I’m sure back at home would never have talked to them out of unnerving fear of rejection. But this is college, and everyone gets a new start to be cool, right?

I’d say give the kid a month or two after the opiate-esque euphoria of Welcome Week fades and he’ll remember his shame. Like we all did.

They were here for a camp of some sort, or orientation, and discussed what their intended majors were and what classes they were excited for.

From a distance, I thought about letting them know whatever plans they had for their time here at IU would undoubtedly change substantially by the time they graduate. I know mine did.

I wanted to ruin their day by telling them how difficult life will soon become and how they were idiots to think they were actual adults, but I didn’t. I kept it to myself because I’m not much better.

I just sat there and listened to them giggle about “getting baked” at Baked! of Bloomington. Which is a tell-tale sign they have never smoked weed before.

What annoyed me the most about the situation wasn’t their innocent laughter and impending happiness of that first Keystone Light in a dorm room far away from Mom and Dad. It was hearing them talk about how by the time they get out of college, they will have a better job market to work with — dodging the draft of unemployment through deferment like it’s 1969.

I chuckled to myself then and still do now because that’s what everyone told me when I started my education at IU at the beginning of the Great Recession, and that is simply not the case for the class of 2012.

If you’re my age, you’re likely to be employed but possibly unpaid or underemployed. The Economic Policy Institute puts unemployment of new college grads at 9.4 percent and underemployment of the same group of people at 19.1 percent.

Interning has replaced the entry-level position for many industries, which means if you want to get a job first you must slave away for a few months for free.

If you wanted to move to a big city after graduation, let’s hope it has a good homeless shelter. Between paying off student loans, credit card debt and stuffing your face with cheap vendor food, you’ll be lucky if you can afford to pay rent without having a second job.

Not to say a college degree isn’t worth it anymore, because the unemployment rate of those with just a high school degree is more than three times as high, at 31.1 percent.

The point I’m trying to make is do not waste your time here in Bloomington, and moderate your schwaste. There are plenty of opportunities here to make you a more employable person, but it means taking on the responsibility of an extracurricular instead of day drinking every Saturday — that’s what Thursday’s for.

Find an internship in town or get experience where you can. The IDS is a good place for journalism majors, and it baffles me how many of them don’t try it out.

It could be worse; we don’t have nearly the unemployment problems like they have in Spain, where one in five people under 30 are still looking for their first job.

But if I could give any unsolicited advice as a guy who was born, raised and about to leave the same 3-mile radius he’s lived in for the last 22 years here in Bloomington, it’s that you must think ahead, farther than one semester at a time.

Always have a back-up plan, and for the love of science, God or what-have-you in between, be nice to each other.

I don’t know why I have to tell you this, but somewhere between kindergarten and middle school we seem to forget the difference it can make and the connections you will have for it.

If someone had told me that back when I was a freshman, I might be employable right now.


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