Really, New York Times?

With all of the ho-hum, white noise articles passed around on the web these days, I was actually starting to feel a bit numb lately but, whew, thanks to a New York Times piece on the “humbling” new grad market, I finally found my pulse again.

Yes, it’s a tough market for grads. I’m a career author. I get it. And, believe me, I feel sorry for Kyle, “a 2009 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh who has spent the last two years waiting tables, delivering beer, working at a book store and entering data.” When I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, I couldn’t find a job either. Actually, the restaurant where I also delivered beer during the summer wouldn’t even hire me back.

Not a proud moment.

So I contacted employers, I interviewed, I got rejected, I contacted more employers… and the cycle continued until, finally, I got the call I was waiting for. There was an opening at a marketing firm IF I wanted to use my shiny new communications degree to – wait for it – drive their delivery van at $8 / hour. With $39,000 in student loans and $10,000 in credit card bills, I (literally) couldn’t afford to have an ego at this point, so I was planning to apply – secretly giving myself six months to wow my new employer and land a spot creating the jobs I’d be hefting around town.

Turns out, I didn’t have to drive the van as I found a job at another firm that hired me to – wait for it – answer the phones. It took exactly two weeks and three days before they put me on a client account – and I never looked back. I was with the agency through six years, three promotions and, when I left, it was to work for a client who offered me double my then-salary.

C’mon Kyle. Finding a job isn’t “more about luck than anything else.” It’s about hustle. And since I hate to single you out, being a fellow Panther and all, let me pick on Alex from Seattle, who commented on the article writing, “People say I’m lucky to have a job, which is true. The problem is that in 10 years, I’ll still have this job.”

Huh? (Kyle – please serve Alex a beer so he can wash down his misery – thanks.)

Again, it’s not about luck. Grads: You’re not “lucky” to find a job anymore than you’re “lucky” to keep it. Either way, you have to earn it. Now…to combat this “rather bleak” graduation season, I’d like to introduce you to a few 20-somethings who have found success precisely because they didn’t view it as being reserved for others.

Dan Schawbel who is building his own personal branding empire through good, old-fashioned confidence and sweat equity.

Nicole Crimaldi who used her blog as a platform to make contacts outside an unfulfilling corporate gig. What started out as a “passion project” (in her words), led to a new job working for someone who found her online.

Matt Cheuvront who was laid off from his “real” job, but used the opportunity to launch a graphic design business where he’s now doing “work that doesn’t feel like work.”

Scott Gerber who almost lost his entire savings on a failed start-up, but dusted himself off, started again and now runs the Young Entrepreneur’s Council, helping other new business owners avoid the same mistakes.

With all due respect to the gravity of our national economic condition, THESE are the grads we should be talking about. Rather than sitting back and waiting for success to arrive with a big red bow on it, they’re the ones out there knocking on doors and, if that doesn’t work, kicking them down. (Case in point: When I declined to write an article on Gerber’s Council launch for HuffPo, he blew past the channels and wrote it himself.)

That’s what I’m talking about, people.

So – Class of 2011 – don’t listen to the “Chicken Littles” out there. The sky is not falling. Actually, the truth is the sky absolutely, positively, unequivocally will not come to you.

You have to go to it.

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