Recent Grads in Connecticut struggle to find work

Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Sarah Grady, A recent college grad is underemployed from Pavement Pieces on Vimeo.

by Alyana Alfaro and Jordyn Taylor
Pavement Pieces staff

HARTFORD, Conn. – When Sean McCartin graduated from Norwich University in 2009, he never thought he would find himself checking IDs at the door of a western-themed bar.

Now, as a bouncer at the Rocking Horse Saloon in downtown Hartford, McCartin, 25, says he is dissatisfied, and eager to see changes in the current U.S. job market.

“With a college degree, I have been out of college for two, three years now, and trying to get a job working for the state as a corrections officer,” McCartin said. “I am in the process right now, but it has been three years.”

McCartin also makes money doing under the table work in construction—something he’s not particularly proud of.

Like McCartin, many of Connecticut’s young voters are wondering how the country’s upcoming election might impact their current job situations. Many of those struggling with un- and underemployment in Connecticut are looking to presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his promises of increased job growth.

“I’m worried about who is creating more jobs,” McCartin said. “America is capitalism—we are a business and I am looking for the guy who is going to be a better businessman in the long run.”

Alison O’Connell, 23, of Ridgefield, Conn., shared McCartin’s sentiments. Though she graduated from Boston College with a Biology degree in May 2011, O’Connell is still unable to find a job in medical research. Instead, she is working part time as a nanny.

“Obama has offered no clear solution in the past four years and during his presidency the job market has only gotten worse,” O’Connell said. “From watching the presidential debates, it doesn’t seem like he can clearly articulate what he would do differently in his next term. Even though Romney doesn’t have all the answers, I’d say change in leadership seems necessary.”

According to a “two year out” survey conducted by the Trinity College Career Development Center in Hartford, unemployment rates for the school’s 2009 graduates are around 8 percent—close to the US national average.

But Breton Boudreaux, 31, assistant director of the CDC, suggests that politics may not be entirely to blame for his students’ current struggles with employment.

“I think career development has changed as a whole. In the 80s, you came to college, you found your job, you worked at that job, you retired and got a gold watch—that was it.,” Boudreaux said. “Students that are working now are going to have seven to 12 jobs throughout their career. [It’s] no longer as linear as it used to be.”

Still, as O’Connell continues her search for hospital work, she believes that Romney’s election could profoundly affect her job situation.

“If Romney wins the election I’d imagine there would be more activity in the market generally,” O’Connell said. “Big corporations that could potentially be hiring now, aren’t because they feel it’s a time of risk. Obama’s policies are generally anti-industry. If Romney is elected, there will be more money in the marketplace. Companies will more likely feel comfortable spending money by taking on projects of expansion and hiring, which they’ve been holding off on recently.”

For some young voters, however, the job search is not the most important issue affecting their vote.

Ben Aronowitz, 21, a senior at the University of Hartford, said that social issues are the biggest factor affecting his decision this election, despite having no job prospects for after his upcoming May graduation.

“I have very different opinions than Mitt Romney and the whole Republican party on some social issues,” Aronowitz said. “My mom is a feminist and raised me to have and share some of those beliefs. As her son, I think I would be disowned if I voted for Mitt Romney.”

Still, for O’Connell, whose university degree is sitting unused, Romney’s election will have enough positive economic effects to outweigh pressing concerns over social issues.

“I am definitely in a different place than I was last election, so I would say yes, this has affected my decision on who to vote for. The economy and job market is stagnant right now,” she said. “Psychologically, change is good.”