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For now, many college students appear to have accepted that it won’t be easy to get a good job.
“If you go down to people 22 or 23 years old now, they don’t feel quite as disillusioned,” said Richard Freeman, the economist. “They understood. The signal was coming out from society. It’s amazing to me at least, how easily people adjust to whatever the current situation is.”
The scales fell from Jamie Millard’s eyes 10 months into her professional life.
She’d been working an unpaid internship since graduating from college in 2009, and she needed money. So she was thrilled to be sitting in an office listening to a man describe her dream job, and then offer it to her. She would be raising money for a small publishing firm, a good one.
“Oh my gosh, this is going to be perfect,” she thought.
But the guy saved the worst news for last. The job would be unpaid for six months, he explained, and if she performed well she could apply for the paid position then.
Millard had been smiling, and the grin froze on her face. She said she fought back tears.
“I wasn’t strong enough to say, ‘What!’ ” she said.
She turned down the offer by e-mail and gained a new conception of job and career.
She was an English major at the University of Minnesota, but learned how to build websites and launched an online literary magazine, Paper Darts. Now she is co-CEO of BePollen, a networking organization.
She says she banks more on the intangible value of a big network and a rich extracurricular life than on any one particular job. She senses that her lean years have given her lower expectations than older workers — even those just 10 years older.
“Who knows what’s going to happen? I feel like my job could be stripped away from me at any moment, so I have to be very thoughtful,” she said. “I think that’s a new type of thing.”
Adam Belz • 612-673-4405