Letter to the editor

Graduating seniors should rethink career-related entitlement. 

Somehow, February ran away from us, midterm season is here and the mild Los Angeles winter has broken into spring. Not far ahead, graduation stares the class of 2012 in the face.

Those of us planning to enter the workforce need to face the facts: We think we are worth more than we are.

The so-called millennial generation did not devise this idea itself. As we grew older, parents, coaches and friends told us we could do anything we wanted as long as we worked hard for it. At USC, we fraternize with distinguished professors and inspiring speakers who set our expectations high. Mentors help Trojans garble up internships and research positions. In many seniors’ minds, the next logical step in our achievement plans is to secure exciting jobs in our chosen fields, jobs that challenge us to take what we learned here — not to mention the $200,000 price tag — and apply it.

In reality, almost half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 took a job “just to pay the bills,” according to Pew Research Center’s 2011 study. Last year, young adults’ unemployment rate rose to 16.3 percent, almost double the national average and the highest since 1949.

Despite these facts, 91.7 percent of American grads expect to have a position within three to six months, according to an April 2011 study by I Love Rewards, a Cambridge-based research firm. The USC Career Center and Admissions Office could not confirm how many alumni have been employed within this time frame.

Even among employed alumni, some USC graduates have been surprised to find their work mundane and the totem pole staggering from the bottom.

Hearing similar statements from our generation as we enter the workforce, many business writers and psychologists have labeled us “entitled.”

I admit they have a point. Many of us demand that our potential be realized immediately when we should bust our butts to prove ourselves, even if that means doing menial work exceptionally well.

However, the class of 2012 should not abandon its entitlement completely. Instead, we should harness that entitlement to think big about our futures and apply to the best positions possible.

At the same time, we should deflate our egos and realize we might not secure these dream jobs.

When we do accept a position, whether exceptional or acceptable, we should do so with humility. Only then will others help us climb the ladder, though the ascent could take longer than we imagined.


Diana Smith

Senior, communication 

3 replies
  1. Lindsey Smith
    Lindsey Smith says:

    I think Diana makes a great point in this well-written piece. Those who deny the truth in her argument may simply be too proud to admit to their flaws and only further prove her point. The graduates who will be the best-qualified for job positions come this May, will be those who are not only able to harness their strengths and exude confidence, but who are also able to admit to their weaknesses or imperfections and demonstrate a concentrated effort to improve upon them. Modesty is a great virtue, and although schools like USC imbue us with a certain air of entitlement, I think that most employers would take a well-qualified applicant who presents him or herself with humility over a hubris-filled braggart who refuses to accept a starting salary under 35 K a year.

    In case you’re still not convinced, read this NYU’s student’s cover letter that turned him into the “laughing-stock of Wall Street”:

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