Go Ahead And Say It! Not an ideal situation. By. Far.

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Jennifer Agor, Assistant Director, Duke Career Center
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THIS SUCKS—It's ok, you're allowed to say it. Even if people out there are losing their jobs, homeschooling their kids while trying to work from home, worrying about their business, their retirement, their health. No matter how bad anyone else has got it, IT STILL SUCKS.

With the extra “free time” I have now working from home, I’ve been reading articles about new graduates’ prospects for jobs and what this means for your future. The outlook varies, but if this pandemic continues for a while, it will have a pretty major effect on your life for the immediate future for sure, and probably a few years down the line (as on everyone’s). However, what has struck me most is the comments on all of these articles—that students don’t have the right to complain, you should just suck it up and learn to adapt, that adults have it way harder than you do and of course, the political rantings from every point of view.

The most recent of these articles was from the NY Times, and this comment was attached.  It’s from Michael, in Asheville, NC:

Class of 2010 here, I feel for these folks and know their situation all too well. Nearly all of my peers and myself had to settle for high school jobs with our bachelor’s degrees. Yes, graduating when I did had deep financial and professional consequences for me…
My advise for the class of 2020…You’re about to become more resourceful than those who graduated before you and even those who graduate in 2-3 years who won’t feel this as hard as you will. If you have to give up on your career path, remember that your degree is worth so much more than the area you focused on. The principals of a college education, such as critical theory, scientific method, aesthetics, etc will take you far wherever you land. From my experience the 2009 and 2010 graduates still hurt financially but most of us have found innovative ways to survive…and have found ways to thrive in adjacent careers through our creativity and compassion. Good luck, you’re not alone.

Finally, someone saying something positive. Political commentary aside (in the full quote), you WILL get through this. People have survived bad job markets. People everywhere are doing things that were not part of their original plan.  And guess what? They’re still thriving. 

person walking on beach at sunrise with balloons

What’s the saying? Necessity is the mother of invention? Duke students have some of the most creative brains, along with the skills to put an idea into action. I imagine many of you moving forward and creating, innovating to an amazing degree because of this in ways you never even conceived of before. Our Public and Global Health students are graduating into a world just waiting for their input, even if you have to give it in ways that you weren’t anticipating. Our Economics students will be learning about the worst days in stock market history while they happen—and this will help you prepare for the future, when undoubtedly, another recession hits. And reality is, you may have to pivot and do something completely different than you planned, perhaps even something you thought was beneath you. 

Yes, it is going to suck for a while.  And yes, you have every right to be mad, complain, cry, be disappointed…but then use that passion to figure out your way forward.  Take this situation and find the silver lining.

Because this is not a time to throw stones at others’ situations, or scorn them for disappointments less than our own. This is a time to come together and pull everyone up, not beat them down. Take this time to become a better human being. Shed your resentments or elitism or entitlement or self-doubt. And you will learn adaptability. Humility. Innovation. Hope. Hopefully, compassion, empathy and philanthropy as well. Dukies have long been known as forward thinkers and innovators. Let’s lead the way in being better people and help to make this situation bearable. Change your mindset. Open your mind. Have a positive attitude. Because it doesn’t HAVE to suck completely. 

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