Most business leaders, when asked to advise new graduates, are encouraging, telling them that though things might be rough now, they'll pick up in time. Not AIG's outspoken CEO, Robert Benmosche.
He doesn't have much in the way of sympathy for graduates entering a difficult job market, telling Bloomberg's Betty Liu today that "you have to accept the hand that's been dealt you in life. Don't cry about it. Deal with it."
He added that he intends to give graduates some tough but needed advice when he gives the commencement speech at Alfred University, his alma mater, later this week:
"They want me to talk to the students and give them a sense of encouragement, especially with the high unemployment, my advice will be, whatever opportunity comes your way, take it. Take it and treat it as if it's the only one that's coming your way, because that actually may be the truth."
Harsh advice. But it's not without some truth. The job market for recent graduates is pretty grim, outside of a few fields like health care, computer science and engineering. Nearly half of students can't find a job in their chosen fields, and six times more are working in retail or hospitality than would like to be.
Though it's not exactly what you want to hear during what's supposed to be a celebration, this is something that new graduates need to keep in mind. With so many people unable to get a job in the area they want right away, the only way in might be through the back door, or by working up through a different job function or organization.
That requires the sense of urgency and realism that Benmosche describes.
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