Purpose versus desperation
A full 160 years ago the great American philosopher Henry David Thoreau published the line “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” As a society we have progressed beyond anything he could have imagined in 1854, yet his quote remains remarkably relevant even today. With a standard of living in the US that would have amazed our forebears, why do so many still live in quiet desperation?
Despite massive improvements in productivity, in availability of resources and in access to both basic and luxury goods that one might imagine lead to higher satisfaction, most in society are dissatisfied and unengaged. In a recent Right Management survey, only 19% of workers were satisfied with their jobs.
For college students, the source of their discomfort can be traced directly to the disconnect between their expectations for and the reality of the job market. While most eventually become employed, many are compelled to accept jobs for which they are either unprepared or over qualified. Either of those outcomes will almost certainly lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.
To help solve this problem, students must become better job seekers. Not because they need to find their first job but because once off campus, they must be prepared to find relevant and meaningful work throughout their careers.