At this point in my life I’m totally going with the big hazy mess. I’m 20 years old, have an ocean full of possibilities, but no idea in which direction to sail.
The question that has been tormenting me for the past two years, probably similar to most other people my age is “what do I do after graduation?” For me, university has been the obvious choice, because getting a good education consequently must lead to a good job… right?
Well, no. Actually it doesn’t look like it. Unemployment rates for young people have soared dramatically following the 2008 financial crisis. Between 2008 and 2012 the number of unemployed young adults has mounted by more than two million in advanced economies, growing by almost a quarter in two thirds of advanced countries.
The statistics for unemployment in the European Union in September 2013 have been the opposite of consoling for its future workforce (when phrasing it nicely). Spain and Greece, with leading numbers, have shown rates of 56,5% and 57,3% of unemployment (needs to be verified). That is far more than half of the countries’ population! It is a miracle people haven’t started reserving spots in hostels for the homeless. I myself come from Germany which is presently showing one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the European Union with 5,2% which is approximately 90% less than in Greece, nevertheless frighteningly high. With unemployment rates as high as they are, young adults are becoming much less selective about work offers, taking jobs they are overqualified for or not in the work field they enjoy, just to avoid making the list of the unemployed.
So where does this leave me with my choice to study? Do I even want to study after seeing these alarming numbers? Or do I want to secure myself a job as quickly as possible? And if I decide to study after all, I have to ask myself the question whether to study something that will lead me towards a job that is always in demand, like a doctor or a teacher, not being selective about work enjoyment, but rather focusing on the security of it. Or do I go into social sciences after all, hoping to find a job in an area where you can be as optimistic about finding work as a vegetarian can be about finding lunch at a steakhouse.
It is becoming more and more apparent that in order to find a satisfying job, you must be excellent at what you do. And I think in order to be excellent at what you do, you must be passionate about it and get the best education possible. So, forgetting the numbers of unemployment, in my opinion going to a university and studying in a field that doesn’t bring a knot to your stomach when you think about being occupied with the subject for the rest of your life is still the path to take if you want to have a chance at finding a job that can support yourself, or maybe even a family in later life. Maybe this is a naive way to look at things, and maybe I will change my mind if unemployment ever hits me. But at the moment, the only way I see myself living in an auspicious future is by creating an auspicious present.
By Meike Fernbach
Picture 1: Tax Credits, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Picture 2: Clementine Gallot, licensed under CC BY 2.0