The Bucks Stop Here - Graduation

The Parental Cut-off Point

Graduation Day! Hooray! The caps and gowns are donned and decorated. The speeches are made. The sheepskins handed out one by one or in unison. The term alumni becomes a part of your child's description. And the bucks stop here, right?

For anywhere from 17 to 22 to 28 years, as a good parent, you have to some degree found a goodly portion of your toil going as a contribution to the betterment of you child. The day has finally come where there is an endpoint. So does anything really end? I think that is pretty much up to you...at least it should be.

What did you tell your son or daughter before they reached graduation? Did you say, "I'm so proud of you making it to graduation. Now you can find a job, live at home and save up some cash so you will be well financed when you go out into the real world." Or did you say, "graduation means - hope you have a job cuz your gas card is dead, your amex is now in your name, your bank account isn't linked to mine anymore, because I love you!"

I don't suppose there is a standard thought that goes through any parent's mind. Having just experienced my second, and last child's college graduation, I had a few thoughts on what was going on around us.

We, my wife and I, drove to the graduation yesterday. We met our son and his friends at his apartment, which was amazingly clean and ready for company. My wife's brother and his wife drove in from even further away, which was a nice thing. We assembled at the Colosseum for the graduation of his class - probably about 1500 kids. Earlier in the day a Senator was the key note speaker - the afternoon graduation received words from a fellow student. Then we all got together for an adult beverage, some good food and hugs goodbye.

So what now?

Well, let's go back a while. Around 3 years back, I explained to my son he would need to start considering what he would be doing when he got out of school. I suggested if he wanted any spending money he should find a job, maybe an internship that included some kind of payment. He landed one of 15 nationally coming from CDW for his campus. He worked for them anytime he was on campus and earned a nice check every few weeks. He had met the CEO of a national petroleum distribution company in a class and asked if they every had interns...and received a summer internship for that summer. He also got to work for them over two Christmas breaks as well. Another corporate founder spoke in a class and he asked them for a summer internship in the credential market...and received it. Now it is time for graduation, time to start sending out those resumes.

His roommate worked as a bouncer at a bar. Some of his friends worked tending bar, putting out umbrellas and chairs at the beach, or just didn't work at all. I can promise you who has the better resume. Last week, the week before graduation, he had 5 interviews with 5 different companies from a software company, three petroleum distribution companies, to a pharmaceutical company, all with a solid good feeling that something will come back to him very soon. He has more lined up for the next week if he doesn't find anything this go round. His friends, many of them haven't even started looking. His roommate, already signed on with a company nearby. His roommate gave my son credit for encouraging him to be applying.

What's the hurry? Have you looked at the job market? There are tens of thousands of fresh graduates heading into the job market - right now. What are the odds of finding something if you wait? So he isn't waiting...why? The other discussion we had already had. As much as I love my kids and would help them in any way I could...the bucks stop here.

He has two months left on his apartment lease - which may work out if he gets a job there...if not, he can move back home and we will work together to get that paid. His roommate plans on living there anyway as it is close to his new job. If one of the three jobs he interviewed for comes through...he may just stay there for the next couple of months anyway. That could be great for him. But that would be his rent, not Daddy's.

Gas costs $4 a gallon today. Trucking back and forth for no apparent reason is no longer on my tab. Love to see you son, but it can wait if you don't have to come. That fancy phone you just bought and put on a special high dollar monthly plan...that would be YOUR monthly plan now. Oh, that gas card....it doesn't work anymore. That Amex that was in your name - sorry, it isn't also in my name anymore. Keep in mind, 6 months from now those student loans begin - 6 months from NOW.

Got that job yet? He did, as I said, put together a half dozen interviews for one week. It took a lot of work and a lot of trying. I'm proud of his efforts. Where did he look? His college provides a connection to a jobs board that is pretty nice. I was able to look at it and found that these aren't just first jobs with dubious employers but real jobs with all kinds of employers at all levels of employment. It was good enough I had to drop my resume to a few! Very interesting.

Oh you can just about find the same jobs but it takes a lot more work by going to Monster or any of the other dozens of job sites. But see if your school provides a specific jobs placement program to assist job seekers. It makes a school look a lot better if 99% of their graduates find work within 1 month of graduation! When the school puts together job fairs on campus, get your young one to attend - resume in hand - to interview - even for jobs they have no intention of taking. Two reasons - one is practice in anything improves results so interviewing for a job you don't intend to take will make you a better interviewer. Second, it is always possible that in the interview you may find out there are jobs with this company that actually float your boat to the extent you want to be a part of it.

Who do you know who owns, runs or is a manager at any business in any line of work? You see, managers, owners, businessmen in general, talk to each other. All of them are always looking for solid, good talent. If you know Mr. A and he is in a field that your son/daughter doesn't want any part of, but you are comfortable with Mr. A, ask him to keep a copy of your child on hand so if he heres of an opportunity he can pass it on to them. Check in with Mr. A once a month - no more. If Mr. A has a company that is just exactly what you kid wants to do - your KID makes the appointment and asks for an interview. That may make something happen all on its own.

Newspapers are not very good places to look for jobs of any merit anymore. All jobs are posted to the the internet now - for a lot of reasons, some of which are legal. Make sure your child's resume is in a modern format, provides all the information it should and is accurate - not full of bull. Make it real - and realistic. Don't exaggerate the obvious and do make sure any awards, extra curricular activities that don't involve drugs or drinking are included. Then plan on getting out around 2-300 copies - on the internet for each potential interview. It is point and click for you to send a resume - and it is point and click for the other millions of graduates doing the same thing. 2-300 is on the low side. Get them out and working for you - it costs almost nothing but a little time to shoot out these resumes.

Respond to the requests of potential employers. If they call - think bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Not responding because you really don't think you will like working there because someone said you wouldn't - is a stupid idea. Check it out thoroughly because, as I stated before - there may be another opportunity with the same company that is perfect for you.

Once that job comes - review the offer and make sure of everything. No assumptions are allowed. Don't put too much emphasis on how much someone is paying your kid on their first job - it is a first job. It is a lot easier to find a new job...when you have one already. And since the kid has a job....the bucks stop here!

Best of luck to all the new graduates.

The Inventurist.


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