How to Help a College Grad Get a Job: Hire Them!

Published on by Victoria Pynchon.

This is not rocket science, ladies and gentlemen but it will require everyone in Gen-X and Boomerville to give up the idea that you are entitled to the labor of a college graduate free of charge.

We call that an "internship" when it's really wage theft. It's also tax theft, social security theft, medicare theft, and, state disability theft. 

As if theft weren't enough to redden your cheeks with shame, unpaid internships (and non-living-wage jobs) increase the chance that this generation of college graduates will default on their student loans - loans that we, the taxpayers, guaranteed. We're also burdening government safety net programs - food stamps, section 8 housing, Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

If harm to the government is not your concern because you'd just as soon shrink it to the size of a bathtub and drown it there, think about the harm to the heart of American business which is dependent upon the creation of consumers with disposable income.

What about income inequity? Does that bother you? It should because it's disastrous for any economy but particularly, as I just mentioned, an economy premised on consumer spending. When you "hire" an intern or pay a college grad minimum wage, the people to whom you're providing business and career "on the job" training are the people who can afford to work for free or for so little money they can't afford rent in your City and maybe not even the next suburb over.

The people who can afford to take your unpaid or wage-slave employment are being subsidized by parents in the top 20%. You're further enriching them at the expense of young people who have to go it on their own - a little like you did back in the day except that you didn't have tens of thousands of dollars of educational debt to repay.

And if your "interns" are doing clerical work (don't deny it) you're depriving "grown-ups" of work they need. Most of those grown-ups are women who continue to constitute the vast majority of clerical workers.

Fifty, clerical and unemployed.

Forget about it! You will never work again! But take heart. If you believe in yourself, seize the moment, go for it and be your authentic self, the inspirational speaker who sold you this "law of attraction" snake oil has a couple of low or non-paid positions he'd be happy to let you fill.

For the experience.

How's this for an idea? Let's take a least half the money generated by the self-help industry and hire at least one college grad at a living wage. The living wage in Los Angeles, California is $11.37. That's $454.80 a week or $1,819.00 a month.

"As of April, 2014, average apartment rent within 10 miles of Los Angeles, CA is $1693. One bedroom apartments in Los Angeles rent for $1465 a month on average and two bedroom apartments rent [for an] average [of] $1892."

So, if a college grad can find a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles that will accept her and at least two roommates as tenants, maybe, maybe, they might be able to afford diets of rice, beans and vegetables foraged from community gardens. Forget the electricity and gas bill, let alone clothing and health care. And remember, these low-paid workers pay both State and Federal taxes, as well as contribute to medicare, social security and state disability funds.

Make that four roommates to a one bedroom apartment.

If you're in the top one or two percent as many of my friends are, instead of buying your own new college grad an extravagant graduation present or throwing a big party, funnel that money into a cause that will increase the likelihood that all of Gen-Y will be able to climb the ladder of upward mobility that is the promise of a college education.

I favor progressive candidates that value labor more than they value capital because capital, after all, is worthless without labor to create, ship, deliver and sell it.

I, by the way, pay my Gen-Y assistants $15/hour, which eats a deep hole into my profitability. If I can't pay them a real living wage, however, I shouldn't be in business. I couldn't live with the shame.

Think about it. We don't expect to get anything but labor free of charge. We don't tell landlords or the purveyors of the business goods we need that they'll just have to suck up the entirety of their profit because small business people can't survive if they have to pay for rent or goods. No, we reserve those kinds of arguments for people.

Face it. We value money more than people.  

If you're the exception to this rule, you'll be paying your people a living wage and tightening your own belt to do so. Right? 

Published on by Victoria Pynchon.