Saturday, June 7, 2008

Students Hard Hit by Weakening Job Market

As money and credit gets scarce across America, some of the hardest hit in terms of employment are students looking for a summer job. While the official unemployment rate has only hit 5.5%, part of this consideration is that very few young people have been able to enter the "labor force." By this calculation, anyone looking for that first job and unable to secure employment isn't actually unemployed - they're kind of hanging in a non-classified group of discouraged or "under-employed" individuals.

Still, the best way to secure a good job after school is to study in an in-demand field such as medicine, engineering, or anything essentially scientific and technical. Computer information technology might not be quite the secure career as it used to be, but computer literacy and internet proficiency are still valuable skills that can be applied to almost any sector of the economy. Financial job outlook is bleak, and maybe this isn't the best time to get a real estate license or an investment banking degree. On the other hand, accounting is still a stable growth career niche, as is leadership and organizational management.

Jobs do exist for people without degrees, as well. Current high school and college students might be able to find work by lowering their income expectations and reducing their cost of living. A big step toward preparing for a lower cost of living in the long term is to avoid taking out any student loan debt unless you're quite sure that the major you've selected can support the required job and salary growth for you to pay it back. With Wall Street announcing major layoffs and salary cuts, this might not be the best time to start an ivy-league MBA program that leaves you $200,000 in debt. Then again, $200,000 is an average amount of student loan debt for a new doctor, and the job prospects means more of those students will be able to pay that back without filing bankruptcy or living like a pauper.

Its also great to do something you love, and these days I feel the best way you're going to accomplish that is by working for yourself. Think about the thing in life you most enjoy, now can you create a business model around it? If you love to make art, can you find the buyers yourself? If you love to write, can you publish, connect to readers, and sell ads on your own? The internet makes a lot of this possible - and many college graduates are moving to make it happen with their own businesses.

Innovation is the only cure to an economic downturn - and education is the key.

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