Recent college graduates seem to have been dealt the worst luck of any graduates in history. It’s true that finding a job out of college will be a big challenge for most and I don’t want to minimize the burden that recent graduates are facing. However, you are lucky in that you can learn something from what many older workers are experiencing. A few things I’ve learned from this recession:
Never rely on an employer to take care of you. Of course most graduates will need to work for someone else to gain experience and pay back loans. But after you’ve gained experience, you should be prepared to work for yourself if necessary. This may mean consulting, freelancing, or starting a small business. If you do ever lose your job, you will have some money.
Be conservative with your money. Don’t buy more house than you can afford, save as much as you can, and live simply so that a layoff won’t be as devastating. When you’re working hard you feel entitled to splurge, but cutting back on some of the luxuries might not be as bad as you think.
Don’t take your job for granted. In the past, workers could count on life-time employment at a company (barring any major mistakes). Now, employees must work every day to justify their relevance. Don’t every get complacent, no matter how long you’ve worked at a company. Keep up with industry trends, take continuing education classes, and diversify your skills.
It’s easy to forget past recessions when the economy is good, but another one will occur eventually and you should be prepared. The news stories about laid-off workers are depressing, but they can serve as cautionary tales for young people that haven’t made the mistakes of older generations.