by Max Reyes, San Fernando Valley Young Democrats Editorial Director
One can tell that through its incredibly slow housing market, looming $19 billion budget deficit, and high unemployment rate, the California economy is in despair. Of particular concern is unemployment for individuals in our generation.
According to a recently published New York Times article, 14 percent of 18 to 29 year olds are unemployed and seeking work; and "23 percent are not even seeking a job, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total, 37 percent, is the highest in more than three decades and a rate reminiscent of the [Great Depression].”
Even for college-educated young adults, unemployment is an issue. According to the same article, a “record level” of almost 17 percent are jobless, granted many may be off to graduate school and not seeking work. The unemployment rate for this group is “5.5 percent, [which is] nearly double what it was on the eve of the Great Recession, in 2007, and the highest level — by almost two percentage points — since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started to keep records in 1994 for those with at least four years of college.”
I know that these statistics are discouraging, but for those of you out there that are jobless please know that you’re not alone. Believe me I know what it’s like to look for a job. When I graduated from college in May 2008, I started off as an intern the following month in the CA State Capitol Building. I didn’t get a permanent job until January 2009, but I did campaign work through much of the fall.
Although I had a difficult time getting a job, the contacts I’ve made through the process have proven to be invaluable. While I was still a college student, a professor said that the best way to get a job somewhere is to make at least three contacts in the field you are interested in pursuing and grab lunch with them. He explained that the purpose was to learn more about their job and what they do. At the end of the meeting, he suggested to ask for other contacts that he or she can refer you to so that you can continue to expand your network in the field.
I followed my professor’s advice and contacted a former professor who was well connected in Sacramento. He referred me to three individuals, who I set up coffees or lunches with while I was interning. They each connected me to three or four others and I repeated the process with each contact I made. By the end of the summer, you can imagine that my network expanded beyond what I could ever have imagined. Essentially, this led me to my campaign job and my first permanent job in the Capitol Building. Not only did I gain an extensive network, but I also made a lot of great friends and mentors who support me up until this day (I’m sure for a long time to come).
Aside from networking, there are other resources out there that help the unemployed. For instance, there are ways to receive low-cost automobile insurance and food assistance to hold you over until you get a job. Great resources are your State Legislators. They are equipped with information to help you through this difficult time. To find out who your local Assemblymember or State Senator is visit: www.assembly.ca.gov. I would also encourage you to contact your local Chambers of Commerce to find out if they have job fairs coming up or any programs to help those who are looking for work. Lastly, get on pertinent e-mail listservs that forward its subscribers employment opportunities.