Meditations on the Recent College Graduate at Your House

Oh, yes!  All your years as a mother — all the cunning you’ve developed, the subtle hints, the sneaky machinations — have led to this moment.  One of your children has graduated from college.

And it’s time for him to get a job.  What can you, his mother, do to speed up this process?  Let me count the ways.

1) Focus on the positive and be generous.  E.g., “Hey, honey!  Why don’t you take the weekend off?  Then you can hit the ground running on Monday.”

2) You know the life you want?  Well, you have to envision it out loud.  Raised voices or shouting may be necessary, at times.  For instance, “You know, this fall — after you’ve been working fulltime for a few months — you’ll probably want to get your own credit card.”

3) Keep on envisioning that ideal life.  Keep on shouting.  For example, statements such as, “We know how you hate sponging off your parents and not being independent” can be quite effective, even when evidence to the contrary is all around you and may, in fact, be lying on the couch where it is watching Sopranos re-runs on TV.

4)  Don’t make obvious comparisons (too pushy!), but don’t shy away from frequent mentions about what other kids of a similar age and educational level are doing — particularly when they’re already gainfully employed.  “I know Jeff’s parents must be so proud that he’s got a great job.  Yes, Jeff, the one you always thought was such a big loser in high school.  He seems to have turned out quite well.  Did I mention how proud his parents must be?”

5) References to how much you and your spouse have spent on college tuition and living expenses over the past four years are unseemly for at least the first few weeks of job-hunting.  After that, all’s fair in love, war and parental anxieties.

6) Hide any subversive reading material that highlights recent sociological info showing that this generation of kids — the Millennials — are now called Emerging Adults and won’t be financially or emotionally independent till they’re 30.  Any kind of dangerous filth like that needs to be shredded as soon as possible.

7) If you’re religious, pray for the economy to get better.

(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)

2 comments… add one
  • professionalism Link

    This is more mythical and nonsensical stuff that portrays all recent college graduates as unmotivated leeches who sit about hoping the magic job will land in their lab.

    As a recent college graduate, who put myself through college, most students went to school with dreams of working in a dynamic fast paced environment that would put what they learned to good use.

    The reality is that most employers now view college degrees as common place and now prefer potential hires to have years of specialized work experience and or graduate levels of education. This leaves many recent undergraduates between a rock and a hard place, because employers simply over look them unless they fit into some “quota” category, have connections (via daddy), or have decided to continue their studies beyond the undergraduate level.

    Employers today have unrealistic goals for college students. Because those from the baby boomer generation are starting to retire in mass or leave for other industries employers need “bodies” to compensate for the attrition rates. But they only want “bodies” who have the same experience and knowledge as those who recently retired. This is a catch 22, because many employers want energetic and young 20somethings that have either PHDs or years of managerial experience under their belts. As unrealistic as this sounds, this is the reality most young graduates often face.

    Now why do so many recent college graduates seem unmotivated?

    It is not because we are unmotivated but it is because we are disillusioned. While young people today are more realistic and informed than ever before, most of use understand that we will have to work our way up, and or initially take jobs we do not like, but the attitudes of employers and their list of “qualifications” have also made us feel as if the job market has a bias against young people. On one hand we are told that employers, especially state and federal ones, are having a hard time attracting young blood. But the reality is that we are often turned away from such jobs due to unrealistic vacancy announcements (X amount of experience, X education, and between ages X and Y), or being turned down for interviews as not having “enough experience.”
    Such actions are not only discouraging but also perplexing, for how can one gain experience is no one is willing to hire?

    Believe me the dream of most college graduates is to get as far away from their parent’s house, income, and influence as they can. And often tensions between recent graduates and parents arise when parents come their children with whole line of “could of, should have, and would haves.” This is further compounded by constant nagging and attempts to force us into fields and jobs that we have A.) already tired and do not like. B.) Have no desire or interest in or C.) (which most often occurs) are pushed into a job/field because it is what our parent’s want.

  • recent grad Link

    Unless I missed a point, or you’re being sarcastic, this is one of the worst articles I have come across. I would not want to be your child just for the pure fact that you will badger on your child as if they choose to come back. Most grads, who worked hard to finish, have a mindset to do something productive.

    Nagging and complaining instead of encouraging doesnt help the situation.
    I agree with professionalism with his/her reasoning. It’s been hard to find a job even with internship experience under your belt, and this is coming from my own experience as well.
    Thumbs down on this word of advice. So bitter.

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