In 2006, I was a bright-eyed freshman at Howard University in Washington, D.C. I was an aspiring journalist, both hopeful and excited about the future. I knew that upon graduation, I would have the tools I needed to land that first writing or production assistant job. I was more than happy to share a one-bedroom, overly priced apartment with roommates, if that meant that I could get my foot in the door of my dream industry. I was ecstatic to grind my way to the top and pay my dues with a tougher-than-nails editor, who pushed me as hard as my toughest professor.
In May, it will have been two years since I have graduated with my bachelor of arts degree in journalism with a concentration in broadcast news, and I am not sharing a one-bedroom overly priced apartment or grinding my way to the top as a desk assistant. Instead, I am back home in a Barbie doll-filled room in my mother's house. I am working two jobs: one in retail, the other a temporary position at a bank -- neither of them journalistic in nature.
For two years, I have been looking for a job in journalism, public relations or communications. The folder labeled "Rejection" in my Yahoo account is filled with emails, all of them with the phrase, "we have decided to go with another candidate who better fits our needs." Their needs all include at least two to three years of experience. But, as a recent graduate, who has that experience? Not me! How can a person gain experience without a job, when you cannot get a job without experience? An internship is, surprisingly, not the answer. For many internships -- and by many, I mean 95 percent you need to be a full-time student.
I did everything I was told to do: attended a good university, wrote for the school's newspaper and had at least one internship. Yet I have not been able to find gainful employment utilizing my degree. Instead, my loans paid for a great education that has only afforded me the opportunity to fold clothes, sell makeup and earn minimum wage.
Recently, I made the decision to become a certified paralegal. When trying to get financial assistance, I was told that because I had graduated from a prestigious university, I should be a marketable candidate and, therefore, did not qualify for assistance. Every time I feel like I am getting ahead, I get knocked back down. Yes, I will always fight for my dreams, but it is getting harder and harder to get back up.
I am only one of thousands of recent graduates who have not been able to find employment after walking across that graduation stage. I am not the only one who is frustrated because the future I envisioned is not within my grasp. I am not the only one settling for a job that I dislike to make ends meet. I am not the only one who is finding it harder to hold onto the dreams that kept me motivated through college.
What's worse is that our inability to get hired is not our fault. And there is a high possibility that when the economy bounces back, we still will not be hirable because we will no longer be the bright young new work force, nor will we have the experience of the older, wiser people in our field.
What is it going to take for me and my colleagues to get our feet in the door? What is it going to take for us to get employed?
Tracy King, of Amherst, graduated from college two years ago and is still looking for a job in her field.