This past weekend Paramount Pictures released ‘The Big Short’ based on the 2010 Michael Lewis book of the same title about the build up of the housing and credit bubble in the first years of the new millennium.
There were many casualties of the worst financial crisis since the great depression. I thought it might be worthwhile, as moviegoers line up for tickets, to revisit that time and the impact on those who graduated from college in 2009.
It took a few months for the ripples of economic crisis to reach college campuses. But in the fall of 2008 corporate recruiters began to cancel on-campus interviews and career fairs shrunk to a quarter of their previous year’s participation.
Students who had entered college in the fall of 2005 faced optimistic prospects as the economy was booming and entry level jobs were plentiful. But the global economy began to turn in the spring of junior year, with many heading off to summer internships in anticipation of transitioning to full time work at graduation.
By final exams in 2008, things were looking bleak. Here is an excerpt of a blog I wrote on December 11th.
“When the semester began in August, not even the experts could have predicted the level of change we would experience this fall. While each academic year provides opportunities to embrace challenge and celebrate success, these past four months have created historical moments with the potential to redefine our place in the world.
As you are writing your final papers and studying for exams, let’s take a minute to review what we have learned.
First, we are in an age of globalization. If you have been hiding under the covers for the past ten years, the economic downturn brought the reality of the global banking community to the forefront. In a few short months we have learned more than we may have wanted to know about real estate, mortgages, investment banking, insurance and the auto industry. And we now have a better sense of how our domestic economy depends on the health of these industries. For many of us, the impact of the downturn in the economy has hit close to home with friends and family out of work.
Change can be difficult. If you are a freshman this year, your transition from high school to college is a fresh memory. There was the excitement of a new place mixed with missing friends and family. With every new opportunity to change there is a sentimental longing for the past. For seniors, there is the anticipation of the next step: graduate school, professional school, a new job or and entrepreneurial start up. It is a time of hope mixed with uncertainty.
You are a part of a historic moment in time. Become an active participant. If opportunities in a career field are limited, look toward the new careers emerging as a result of change. All you have learned this semester in your classes, organizations and internships have provided you with a solid foundation to adjust and adapt. This is your strength.”
If the rumors are true, the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this week, bringing an end to the economic downturn that began in the spring of 2008.
I think it’s important not to forget the lessons learned in 2008 and 2009. Check your social network and schedule a sit down with a 2009 graduate. Get a first person account of how to recalibrate a career path to eventually arrive at success.