Friday, September 25, 2009

Economic Predictions, New Graduates, and my eBook

Ugh. It does not look good. This is currently the start of my sixth year of higher education. I have been around to see many of my friends graduate and immediately start a new job. They make tons of money, buy new cars, get mortgages, have nice new clothes, pay off student loans, take vacations, and seem to go on summer break indefinitely. That was until this past year.

I have tried to find the following statistic in print but I have not. This is heard from word of mouth from a man who's daughter I believe went to Duke business school, which I heard from another person is #1 in the country. In the past the highest unemployment for a graduating class was 8%, 2009 (it could have been 2008) had 58%. The smart economists interviewed by Fortune are not enthusiastic either. Well, I should rephrase that. They are not enthusiastic about the world economy until like 2012 or so when we figure out more stuff and make better rules concerning debt.

When do we climb out of this? Six years, maybe just until 2012 according to a guy that won a Nobel Prize. My parents told me the other night that Wisconsin was not expected to climb out of recession for another six years and that might be a little exaggerated but the hotel industry in wisconsin is at least not planning to get back to 2007 levels for the next six years.

The total rate in the US for people unemployed and underemployed is 16.8%. The article by Peter Ferrara that let me in on that also said that we need incentives (think government incentives like lower taxes) for job-creating investments. How does this apply to recent graduates? Well, when I first read new jobs or job creating I thought of companies expanding but that is a traditional shallow view of the word "new". What about jobs that never existed before? Apple was one of the first companies to embrace Facebook and send my messages about student discounts and specials offers and new products. I do not know but I would guess that Apple employs several people who deal in social media marketing. People that get paid to promote and keep Apple enthusiasts interested by tweeting, blogging, or sending out Facebook messages to the fan club.

The fact is that new graduates are uniquely suited for these new jobs. For example, in engineering (my area of most experience) more people than ever are learning how to use finite element software. While any mathematical prediction has to be taken with a grain of salt due to the many assumptions the benefits are significant. Several different simulations can be completed in one day by one person whereas physical testing most likely requires several people and several days.

So my hope, and other new graduates, is that the skills we have learned that our predecessors did not will enable us to have a comfortable future. We are in a hard transition. Baby boomers planned on retiring and are having trouble adapting to the reality that many can not afford to retire. They are also having trouble adapting to the new version of Microsoft Office released every two years. Us in Generation Y are having a hard time getting a job because someone in India or China can do the same work as us for half the price or less. Generation X has had a good life, but it looks like things might not always be so easy. It turns out that plasma screens don't pay for themselves when companies give out blanket 20% pay cuts.

The future is scary because things will change. The world is going to be very different. We (people) don't like change. We want things to be comfortable and easy. I read all sorts of blogs occasionally. Notable marketing blogs are: Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, and Duct Tape Marketing. What strikes me about reading some of these blogs is that these people make probably hundreds of thousands of dollars and a lot of what they say I already know. Most people my age already know. They talk about the internet and how to connect to friends. The part where they take a new step is how to use that relationship to sell something. Since no one my age is really selling anything we just use the internet to find what we want. Business people are trying to grapple with this new thing called the internet because no one really understands us yet.

So I'm writing an eBook. My sister is coauthoring it with me because we are sufficiently different to make it complete. The book is going to be about Generation Y, from the perspective of Generation Y. It's about what we want and how we think. It will be free too don't worry. I want to try and explain us better to previous generations. Most of it is pretty obvious I think but it has not really been said in print enough to get the point across. Expect it to be available sometime in October.

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