Financial advice: Plan ahead for the college years; Internships position you for employment

June 10, 2013 

Unemployment continues to be at record levels. The fact that so many individuals are without a steady paycheck or at an income level less than in years past are a major contributor to the economy’s slow and often stalled growth. There are signs of recovery but until we are able to get people back to work our economy will continue to struggle.

At this time of year, young men and women are graduating from high school; one of them is my youngest child. Many will be continuing their education at the college level in the hope of landing a job after college. Yet, the news is filled with stories of the higher than average unemployment rate and college loan debt for recent college graduates. Now more than ever, these young people need to evaluate the course of study they will pursue and take steps during the college years to gain entry into that field. So in this column, I would like to share some practical advice for new graduates heading off to college.

Internships are a good thing, but don’t expect to get paid.

Today while watching the news, a young man was interviewed about the book he wrote. In this book he decried the fact that college students work internships and are not paid for the work they do. He went on to say that they really learn very little. Well, I normally make every effort in my columns to avoid any controversy, but REALLY!

Let’s look at this from an employer’s perspective. Assuming all other factors the same, would you be more likely to hire an individual straight out of college with no practical experience in your field or would you be more likely to hire the individual who has pursued at least rudimentary training in the basic duties and did so at their own cost? I think the answer is self-evident. Second, why should the employer pay to “teach” someone how to do the job? Isn’t it enough that they offer to share their knowledge and experience that they earned over years and even decades?

Just to be clear, in many fields of employment, practical skills and hands-on training in a real work environment are an important part of the hiring decision.

Meaningful management positions involve more than “book” knowledge.

Many of the individuals today who are in the position to hire and manage others obtained that position by making sacrifices. They made mistakes and suffered the consequences of their errors. They succeeded and they failed, as my dad would say, “They paid their dues.” In today’s economy, a degree is not enough to guarantee employment and certainly not a position where you are in charge of others. Management today is about leading others, not commanding.

Respect for a person does not come with a job title; It is earned.

We always seem to find a label for each generation. Unfortunately, the current young group is often characterized as “The Me Generation.” I have heard how young people today grew up when “everyone gets a medal” or “we don’t keep score at the games” and that they have been coddled by “helicopter parents” and cannot fend for themselves.

Well, now is the time to prove them all wrong. To put on your big boy and big girl pants, put your nose to the grindstone, your shoulder to the wheel. It is time to buckle down. The next four years of your life should be fun and an experience, but it is also time to look at yourself and what you want for your future. No one is going to hand it to you; you have the chance to EARN a bright and rewarding life.

Congratulations on completing high school. May it be but a small level of success in a lifetime of success!

Bob Condron, ChFC, MSFS if a Fort Mill-based financial advisor. You can reach him at 548-8875 or bcondron@bridgefp.com. For more, go to BridgeFP.com.

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