Ask college seniors their thoughts as they graduate this month and it's the one word that comes up again and again.
They're scared for the future, scared for the present. Scared they won't be able to find the right job, scared they won't be able to find any job at all because of the recession. We talked to some graduating seniors about their feelings for the future. Here are some of their thoughts.
KIMBERLY KUSSMAUL, Goucher College, European studies major:
"I have a summer job in a camp in Germany for kids of the American military, then a Fulbright and teaching assistantship in Berlin, to teach English in a German high school. My long-range career plans? Don't ask. Probably something to do with history or political theory or international education.
"I feel this next year is my chance to get my feet wet in teaching and see if it's what I want to do. With these uncertain economic times, it's scary. I have nightmares. . .
"I got my job and scholarship through perseverance. I spent most of the fall writing letters. It helps knowing I have something for next year, so I can look around.
These are strange times. For 15 minutes you're on top of the world, so excited. Fifteen minutes later you're down in the pits, so scared. You've been going to school for all these years and all
of a sudden that chapter is ended."
BETSEY USHER, College of Notre Dame, political science major:
"I've sent out about a zillion resumes to companies, congressmen, non-profit corporations. I would like to go into PR or corporate relations or government work. I'm pretty open but so far I haven't gotten any job offers at all. I'm willing to go just about anywhere.
"Yes, it is disheartening. I was president of the student government here for two years and instituted a lot of changes and I thought all that experience would help me get a job right away. It really hasn't.
"We went to college to get a degree that's supposed to promise a brighter future. But I look at kids who started work out of high school, and they're ahead of me.
"I think the recession has the biggest impact on my lack of success. I like to think that if the economy were better I'd have lots of offers. It's hard times. Sometimes I do wish I were four years younger. I'm so envious of the people coming up in stu
dent government. I keep telling them to appreciate their youth."
KATHLEEN McCABE, Johns Hopkins University, international relations major with concentration in languages:
" WHAT I really want to do is become a journalist. But the economy is definitely figuring into my game plan right now. So I decided to go to Taiwan in the fall to teach English and try to get a job on an English language paper there. This summer I will try to earn some money fact-checking at a magazine and waitressing at night.
"One of the things that frightens me about graduating is I don't even know what I think about the world. I don't even know if I'm a Democrat or Republican. I don't know whether to use paper or Styrofoam. That's one of the reasons I'm going abroad. Hopefully it will give me a chance to think about some things."
SHAVONDA WILSON, Loyola College, finance major:
"I feel nervous about the future, very nervous. . . . All I'm going to do this summer is travel. I'm evading the whole thing. I'm going to Cancun, then a cruise in the Caribbean, then I'm thinking of going to Belgium. I feel like I'm being such a wuss, but I've saved some money and this is all I feel ready for right now. And from this point on, once you get a job you only get two weeks a year to call your own.
"I plan on going into investment banking. When I get back I think I have a job waiting at Legg Mason, at least part-time, and that's kind of my ace in the hole. This recession has definitely been tough. I sent my resume out to 70 companies and a lot of companies don't want to say no, they just keep you hanging on.
"It's like, why me? Why now? I definitely wish I were graduating college in another time. My best friend has a 3.8 grade point average from Columbia and all she could get was an offer for a summer job. I'm not the 4.0 student. What are people like myself supposed to do -- sit around and be unemployed?"
JOSEPH COLLINS, Towson State University, history and secondary education major:
"I don't have a job lined up yet, I'm looking. I've applied to several counties [in Maryland]; most don't know their budgets until the middle of June.
"It's as bleak as you want it to be. There are jobs in Western Maryland or the Eastern Shore, but not many people want to go there. I'd like to stay in the metropolitan area, but beggars can't be choosers.
"This summer I'll wait tables and tend bar.
"The way I'm looking at it, there's jobs and if I try and apply myself I can get one. So the recession isn't gloom and doom for me -- but it's made it hard. Coming out of college you get nervous about anything anyway."
TIM TOSTEN, University of Maryland at Baltimore County, political science major:
"I will be going to graduate school at the University of Baltimore and want to work in Maryland state government. I worked in a program as a governor's intern, and that clinched my decision. Even though you're not going to be making that much money, you get the feeling that you're able to get programs and projects done that help others. You feel like you've accomplished something.
"I'm deferring the real world for about two years. . . . This recession is a little scary and that played a part in my deciding to go to grad school. It would be really hard for me to get a job in state government right now.
"I see people around me and I see some of them are scared. . . . For a lot it hasn't hit them yet. They'll take the summer off and then go look for a job."