One of the problems we have in our country is the assumption that people (especially young people) have extra money just lying around. I ran into it most recently when I was talking about how much trouble I was having finding work. I graduated seven years ago with a degree in engineering. If you have 2-3 years of experience, you’re golden and there are lots of jobs, but if you haven’t gotten that experience yet, getting your foot in the door is somewhere between difficult and impossible… at least without having someone to personally let you in by giving you a job with a hearty recommendation.
It does not matter how much you know if you can’t get a government license to be able to practice your craft. I can’t even become an engineer-in-training (i.e. one of the first steps toward becoming an engineer) without approval from an existing engineer in my state – a most absurd restriction. This is nothing but a barrier to entry to keep intelligent working class people out of professional positions.
And when I talk about how lack of experience is holding me back, it is met with ignorant gibberish. I usually describe what I have been asked and told to do on multiple occasions: Relocate at my own expense to live near a company, then live at my own expense – paying for rent and food and transportation costs out of pocket – while working full time at a company doing a job for six months to two years to get some basic experience… all without ever getting a paycheck. When I said “I need at least enough money to live from a job”, I get non-sense feedback about how “You have to be willing to make sacrifices” and “That’s not my problem”.
I’m not suggesting I need fancy dinners or a nice house – I’m saying that if I’m paid nothing at all, I literally cannot work. The grocery store doesn’t accept “experience”, and no landlord is going to rent to me without a deposit (much less rent). On top of that, I still have student loans accruing interest while I’m looking for work. When I point out how ridiculous it is to expect people to work without pay, the immediate response I get from the industry is “Other people do it, it’s too bad you can’t”.
Add to it the ridiculous fact that I went to college to be more employable, and the whole situation makes even less sense. What good is an engineering degree if it doesn’t mean that you can get engineering jobs?
I always want to ask “How many years did you work before you got your first paycheck?” It is ridiculous and unreasonable to expect anyone to work for the benefit of somebody else without getting paid. In the “good old days”, if you were working, you got a paycheck.
Part of the problem with America is that nobody wants to pay for anything anymore, and that is most true of the people who have the most money. Labor, more than anything else, is being deemed worthless and paid accordingly. So where do I end up? I end up as a laborer in a warehouse, or waving a sign, while holding an engineering degree, because nobody is willing to hire me and I can’t ever get together enough money to “make the sacrifice” I need to make to be a professional.
I have no sympathy for companies that want to cry about “not having any engineers”, because they won’t pay for the ones they’ve got. I’m not the only engineering graduate who can’t find a job. What these companies really mean is that they aren’t willing to invest in the human capital (the engineer) and pay them enough to keep them on board once they’ve completed their basic training.