Now will the government guarantee me a job?

Dan Miller —  November 5, 2012 — 19 Comments

In the second Presidential debate on October 16th, the first question from the audience came from a 21-yr-old college student named Jeremy, who asked both candidates:

“What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?”

Unfortunately, both candidates gave political answers to this young man, playing into the idea that this student’s WMP - quote securitysuccess is somehow dependent on government policies or who is in the White House.  Governor Romney promised he would continue the student loan policies – which have led to insurmountable debt for graduates and a 25 percent spike in tuition.  He said he would make it easier to go to college – a system that is turning out thousands of graduates who have few marketable skills.  Governor Romney even mentioned that half of last year’s graduates are unemployed or severely underemployed.  Adding more to this number is not reassuring – it should be terrifying.

President Obama promised Jeremy that he would increase manufacturing and factory jobs.  However, as a life coach I don’t encounter many college graduates who identify working in a factory as their dream destination.   Most want to avoid the life of their parents and follow paths that embrace their passions.  They want to be part of a worthy cause and do something to change the world.

Yes, politicians get elected by telling us what they are going to “give” us but Jeremy needs to be reminded that “circumstances” will never assure him any kind of success.  The economy can be robust and unemployment at zero and it will have little to do with his success.  This is very much an inner game – not determined by external factors.

The real question is – Jeremy, why would someone want to hire you?  What have you done to bring value to the table for my company?  What are your three strongest personal characteristics?  What projects have you headed up in the last two years? What makes you remarkable?

Here’s what I would tell Jeremy:

  1. Understand the need for “wisdom” as an addition to knowledge and information.  You may have knowledge and degrees, but know that wisdom is the meaningful application of that knowledge.
  2. Understand the changing models of work – thousands are finding legitimate work models and extraordinary income as consultants, contingency workers, independent contractors, free-lancers and entrepreneurs.   The old days of thinking the 8-5 job, with 2 weeks’ vacation and medical benefits is the only viable option are over.
  3. Make your life international – meet new friends.  Seek to understand those with different cultural experiences, different customs and different faiths.
  4. Understand the power of relationships – the African concept of Ubuntu, where “they” become “we.”  We cannot be fully human alone.  Look for opportunities to connect and help others succeed.
  5. Serve those around you – don’t wait till you graduate.  If you want more money just figure out how to serve more people.
  6. Have a pleasing personality – be generous with your resources, keep your word, smile easily, listen well and honor the uniqueness of each person you meet.
  7. Know your gifts and talents – what makes you remarkable.  Don’t rely on degrees alone to open doors of opportunity.

Yes, Jeremy, follow these 7 steps and I can reassure you and your parents – with confidence – that you will be well able to sufficiently support yourself after you graduate.  Follow those 7 steps and you can be assured you will be able to follow your passion, create extraordinary income and make the world a better place.

Hoping the economy gets better will have little impact on assuring your success.   Making yourself better will guarantee your success. 

The unemployment figures, the economy, or frankly – who is in the White House – are all small factors compared to being a person people know, love and trust.  With that I’ll be one of many organizations wanting you on our team.

  • Gretchen

    I’m reading When Wisdom Meets Passion now. It’s an interesting perspective on the generational differences in attitudes about work (Millennials versus Boomers). I like Dan’s ideas.

  • Jeremy Jones

    great post. I found it interesting how many people seemed to think it was the Government or president who was responsible for getting him that job.

    My thought was talk about how you can make it easier for the business owner and reduce their costs so you can hire him….but not the president offering him a job, unless it’s a government job, but the president wouldn’t have much control over that either….really interesting.

  • Kathy Brunner

    Nobody can guarantee anyone a job. Your attitude, skills, willingness to be flexible, creativity and resilience make you a great candidate but in the long run, there is never a guarantee for anything in life. Just as there is no guarantee the medicine will work, your team will win the game or your marriage and children will be perfect. I would tell Jeremy plan for how you can support yourself no matter what the circumstance and if you don’t know how…start talking with, associating with, and asking for mentors from those who do. Jeremy needs to develop strategies versus developing expectations and just getting a degree is certainly not the only strategy to take.

  • Bryan Hart

    A stab in the political heart a day before the election. Awesome :)
    The real question for tomorrow is…Mr. President: can you give me a good reason for me to hire you for 4 years?
    Great point “against” both sides on that debate by the way. I groaned at the student debt side, and I laughed at the factory job thing. In some weird way I feel like they both guaranteed future opportunities for life-long indentured servanthood.

  • Jared Latigo

    LOVE THIS! Very insightful Dan, as always. I find, like you, that the people who don’t understand my love and passion for finding a new way to work are the ones that are stuck in the old mindset. Excellent excellent assessment here. Thanks for sharing!

  • Archie

    “Hoping the economy gets better will have little impact on assuring your success. Making yourself better will guarantee your success.”

    I am so glad I know you bro. Thanks for all you do to make this world a MUCH better place.


  • Ryan Brown

    Thanks Dan. I always find truth and encouragement in your posts.

  • John Wolf

    Things are not easy right know for many. I am in the same boat with lots of SL debt with not the best marketable skills to pay them back. I have considered going back to school but I make too much to qualify for much aide and I can’t afford the out of pocket costs. What am I going to do? Just continue to apply for a supervisor or better paying position in the manufacturing industry of which I have some great experience.

    In the book “Hired to Fired” (which Ramsey endorses) on pg 36 the author speaks of the ideal and the reality. Economic conditions may not be good for many to find their ideal job which is unfortunate.

    • 48DaysDan

      John – just develop your personal skills and don’t worry about your academic degrees. That will open doors degrees never will.

      • Bob

        Abraham Lincoln, according to tradition, had a couple of candles to light his efforts and a couple of books to read in the log cabin… We have brick-and-mortar libraries jam-packed with knowledge, supplemented by the internet. We also have the most leisure time (read time available after foraging for food and avoiding enemies) in history. To Paraphrase brother Dave Ramsey; Leave the cave, kill something, and drag it back!… I needed to hear this too..

  • Laura Headley

    Working in small towns across the country, I see these things in common- when the primary employers are government service and education, but there is very little growth in the private sector, those towns are dying. People (usually employed by the school district or a government agency) that their kids grow up, leave, and don’t return b/c there are no opportunities. It is much more of an epidemic than people realize.

    • 48DaysDan

      Laura – it sure is a problem. Government is an artificial work environment. It certainly doesn’t have to operate like a business. If it’s non-efficient they just ask for more money. Not like the real world at all.

    • Melinda McGuire

      You are absolutely right! And, for those of us who want to start businesses in small towns, the number of empty store fronts on Main Street is scary! Trying to see it as an opporunity, but struggling…

  • Nathan Magnuson

    Miller 2016!

    • 48DaysDan

      Ha – I’d offend 98% of the people. I don’t know how to promise people things that I know aren’t gonna happen!

  • Greg L. Gilbert

    I would assure Jeremy of one thing. As long as it is more important for his parents to be assured than him, I would not consider him a candidate for any position.

    • 48DaysDan

      Greg – ha, what an important observation.

  • Jane K.

    Great insight, Dan, and interesting comments – each person has their own application of your comments and the views of the (then) candidates. As a viewer of this debate and a professional involved in education and career development, I too was disappointed with the answers offered for this question. I understand the inclusion of the “parents” concern, if they are paying for the education – they have the right to ask. The replies of the candidates however, revealed the lack of understanding regarding this issue, which is complicated at best, but both looked to the government’s role, without offering a real answer. The comments revealed that each individual is responsible today for their own education and occupational goals – their dreams and the work, accurately describes the career environment now. Unfortunately, students are still encouraged (for the most part, depending on the support services of their college), to choose a major, then figure out after the degree, how they will use it – much like 40 years ago. How short sighted with what we know today – and a waste!

    • 48DaysDan

      Jane – you are so right. Getting “knowledge” without a comparable amount of personal develop leaves these kids pointing fingers at who’s to blame for their subsequent lack of success.