Minimum wage is not something that college grads think about when they start their degrees. In fact, they think that once their college days are over, they can kiss those minimum wage jobs goodbye. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
How “Low” Can Jobs for Fresh Graduates Go? The Educated Minimum Wage Worker
How “Low” Can Jobs for Fresh Graduates Go? The Educated
Minimum Wage Worker
Courtesy of CNN.com
This graph represents the number of graduates with minimum wage jobs. In 2013, there were 260,000 grads with
minimum wage occupations. Though the trend in minimum wage work seems to be going down for people with
degree over the years, jobs for fresh graduates do not offer a lot of promise in 2014 either. That is about a quarter
of a million grads with minimum wage jobs.
Minimum wage is not something that college grads think about when they start their degrees. In fact, they think that
once their college days are over, they can kiss those minimum wage jobs goodbye. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
According to this CNN money article:
“The only jobs that we’re growing are low-wage jobs, and at the same time, wages across occupations,
especially in low-wage jobs, are declining,” said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, a staff attorney at the worker
advocacy group National Employment Law Project.
Some 58% of the jobs created during the recent economic recovery have been low-wage positions like
retail and food prep workers, according to a 2012 NELP report. These low-wage jobs had a median
hourly wage of $13.83 or less.
At the same time, median household income has also dropped by more than $4,000 since 2000,
according to the Census Bureau.”
That has led to quite a bit of protesting, all over the country, for a higher minimum wage.
Photo courtesy of CNN.com
I can understand why students would protest:
1. College degrees take years and tens of thousands of dollars
2. Working your butt off, paying $200 for a textbook and
successfully graduating should get you more than $7.25 an
3. Crushing debt means more money needed right out of the
Protesting over minimum wage has received national attention and has picked up momentum all over, even right here
in my hometown of Houston, TX.
Could Seattle become the best place for jobs
for fresh graduates?
Seattle is very close to going more than double the federal
minimum wage of $7.25. Planning is in the works to raise their
minimum wage to $15 an hour. Right now, Seattle’s minimum
wage is $9.32.
Could the United States be following the Chinese model of economic experimentation, when in 1978, China opened
up Special Economic Zones; cities that allowed free trade instead of a Communist system?
We are about to find out, as Seattle will be, according to Slate Magazine, “a gigantic laboratory for one of the most
ambitious, and quite possibly misbegotten, labor market experiments in recent memory.”
No one has ever hiked their minimum wage that high, that fast, in the United States. Basically, it is like taking a flying
leap off of an economic cliff. Will it fly?
Some argue that raising the minimum wage that high will jeopardize low-wage employment, and even jobs for fresh
graduates could dwindle.
“Any plan that makes hiring a worker more expensive than in France should be cause for concern. We
know that businesses in high-wage countries are especially eager to replace workers with software.
Fast-food restaurants in Europe, for instance, have been some of the earliest adopters of labor saving
technologies like digital kiosks where customers can order. Those innovations are already beginning to
make headway in the United States. But by passing a $15 minimum, Seattle would risk speeding the
process up within its city limits.” - Jordan Weissmann, Slate’s senior business and economics
Courtesy of Online Colleges.net
The current employment climate is geared towards grads with “applicable” skills. There are good chances of jobs for
fresh graduates in business administration, engineering, and computer science, to name a few.
Though we have advanced into the information age, liberal arts degrees are in less demand than ever, as having a
degree no longer guarantees high-paying jobs, if any.
Is this article meant to be a killjoy?
But we do have to recognize that the system is broken. When we have an abundance of college graduates, paying
more for college than their parents or grandparents but getting less of a return, then that is the symptom of a broken
I still think that getting a college degree is important.
However, I think that it is time that we recognized that earning a degree and getting a job is not the same as it used to
Jobs for Fresh Graduates Who Think Outside the Box
While you are looking for a traditional job, have you considered all of your options? If you are looking for a job, making
minimum wage or looking to make more money, then you MUST think outside the box.
First of all, we live in the information age. It is all about what and who you know that opens doors for you. NOT your
brawn or even how smart you are. If you are talented and intelligent, but stuck in the prison of industrial age thinking,
you are not going to get as far.
My College Level Jobs (internships)
I was hired as an intern to work with M.W. Kellogg during my college days back in 1994. They were merged into
Brown and Root to make Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR). I remember being there and there were a TON of layoffs and
wasn’t sure if I remember if it was due to merging the departments or just market conditions. For sure…. not a happy
environment to work in.
I got this job NOT through the college intern program, but I got it
by contacting the headhunter (campus recruiter) directly
OUTSIDE of the normal system.
I have driven by the giant Brown and Root facility as a child going
to elementary, middle, and high school for years. I always wanted
to work for a large firm and see what it was all about. I wasn’t
going to let a school system prevent my chances from getting a
position with them.
I was one of the few people who got a job there that did NOT have a parent working there.
It was my first time hearing the word. “Nepotism”
I had no clue it was a big thing… I was the
“minority”.. not cause I’m Chinese, or didn’t have
a 3.5+ GPA… but not having a parent that
worked there in the company.
I don’t blame the company for the dry, and
uninteresting work environment. It was more a
function of a huge split in age. There were the
30+ year experienced PE (professional engineers) then there were those with less than 10 years.
When I left, I later learned there were very few engineers that stayed that were under 40. Most of the found better
paying jobs or better work in general.
One of the killers of working at downtown facility was learning the word -> “ Intranet”
This was the biggest shocker.
Only being able to SURF the company internal websites and NOT having external access to the Internet. HUGE
bummer… and at that time there were no mobile devices with internet.
Let’s just say my days were really boring.
First Job Out of College (New Grad)
I joined the ranks of thousands and was lucky to get a job with Motorola Semiconductor in Austin Texas (in the same
city.. super hard to get a Mechanical Engineering Job in Austin as most were Electrical or Computer Engineering jobs
This was probably one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.
1. Good pay ($50,000 back in year – 2000)
2. In Austin (I graduated University of Texas at Austin in 2000)
3. Good mix of experienced and young coworkers
4. Ping Pong Table (I literally played probably 3-4 times a week with a cube mate)
5. The newer facility in town we went to for trainings had
Quake on a couple network machines to play for down
time. When people take smoke and stretch breaks, I would
go play ping pong and others would play video games.
6. Had internet access (not just intranet)
7. In the 1 year I was at the Oak Hill facility. I probably ate
there 5 times. The rest of the time I was so close to home I
just went home to make a sandwich and take a nap.
8. The hours were super flexible.
9. Got this giant Motorola pager (see image to the right) and I
thought I was super important.. hahaha. It was so big I
would constantly clip walls and desks as it was clipped to
the belt. I probably only used it 1 – 2 times a week for
reporting into the manager.
10. Got laid off after 1 year being there after the 9/11 twin towers incident. The whole department got dissolved
and eventually Motorola Semiconductor was sold FreeScale Semiconductor in 2004.
I got this Motorola job also outside of the Campus recruiting cycles. I had submitted my resume to over 50 different
companies outside of the campus computers … going DIRECTLY to the companies Human Resources departments.
Motorola sent me an email about having interviews. I answered and got hired after 2 interviews. One over the phone
and one on site with the other applicants.
From the Internship to the first New Grad job I got…. both of them were landed by taking massive action and just
going after what I wanted. I didn’t rely on the systems in place to take care of me or just “placed my bets” with them.
Both awesome experiences and one I would recommend anyone.
Go send your resume to over 100 places and be visible to any hiring company.
My Engineering career (I won’t go into detail as it covers over 12 years in the industry)
- one job through a friend
- one job through a headhunter I connected with
- another intern through a professor
If you are new grad or about to graduate… it’s time to put on your big boy/girl pants and GO GET IT.
I retired from Mechanical Engineering in 2012 (forced retirement) as they laid me off when I was 33. I decided to
never go back into the industry and have since went full time in my internet marketing and consulting business.
My peak income for Engineering was right under $100,000 in a year.
My peak income for internet marketing was right under $800,000 in a year.
If you are getting a job for the money…. there is a lot more out there for those that are hungry. If you want to apply
your degree.. do so.. Don’t do it cause you think that pays the best.. Feel it out. Be it in doing something you LOVE or
doing it for the money.
If it’s NEITHER…. figure 2-5 year gameplan to exit to what you want… money/passion or both
Plenty of Jobs for Fresh Graduates Working Online
One of the best ways to provide jobs for fresh graduates is to look for work online.
You should be well-organized, so that you weed out the wheat from the chaff.
Do a lot of research. In a few hours, you can get a lot of information about jobs for fresh graduates. There are
plenty of jobs out there, that you don’t have to drive to, or even get dressed up for. Figure out if your goal is to work
FOR someone or have people work FOR you.
Create Your Own Job, Your Own Economy
Having your own business is the dream of many college students. If it is yours, then consider building an online
business which combines basic marketing skills plus your area of expertise. Again, research is the key. Do a lot of
research, but do not fall into the trap of being in constant research mode. Take action, get your hands dirty and take
Of course, there are some risks, but looking for work online or becoming an entrepreneur can get you out of minimum
wage mode – if you know what you are doing.
Have you been stuck in a minimum wage job with a degree yourself? Are there any jobs for fresh graduates that
(I worked at Babbage’s for $5/hr in 1994 in college – now called Gamestop)
Comment Below On Your College Job Experience, Internship, New Grad Job.
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