AIG CEO Tells Struggling College Grads, 'Don't Cry About It'

Robert Benmosche, AIG CEOBy Max Nisen

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."

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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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Sophia Anne Walker

Looks like a slap in the face of fresh college graduates. Although this CEO offers no false hope or false sense of security. The only point he gave was: "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."

If only starting up a business is easy, then there would be more job opportunities for fresh grads.


August 19 2013 at 11:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Amazing! Reading the opinions written by the readers makes me wonder if I am still in the America that is the land of opportunity, also the land for opportunist, do any of you doubt me? turn your heads towards the White House where the elected one was one of the many that voted for "banks to loosen up lending guidelines so the average american could achieve the american dream" yet, and because a diploma could never equal experience, look what happen -over the curse of many years- to the american financial world.
AIG's CEO guilty? of what? of doing what every single one of us would do should we had been in his shoes?
The financial world could never function should the average citizen (like all of you) be responsible for our actions (all of us enjoyed the financial boomm, we all bought electronic gadgets we did not need -but wanted- and a big percentage of us we did on credit, and records do not lie, lines of credit were taken by the millions (US Citizens) and spent and spent and spent.
Why are all of you blaming (I know is the easiest and laziest thing to do, heavens forbid any of you had to use your brain) the people on top, when getting there is the goal of every proud american. Again, do you doubt me? each and every single one of you had played teh lottery game with the hope to "win the big one" and everybody can think on how to spend those millions but very few would think -or know- how to repserve those riches, and you know how most of you would do it? listening to people like Benmosche, whom came from very humble begginigs, got an education, rose through the financial ranks using what he knew (nobody has all the answers) and today he uses what he thinks should be the right thing to do (that does not mean everybody should listen or follow it) for college grads.
We are in america when tomatoes, once, were soemthing to look at, until somebody began to use them; where CocaCola was originally sold as medicine; where a college drop out became on eth erichest in the world; where a black lady, today , is one of the most influetial in our society.
The financial crash came, and although we ares till feeling the effects of it, it is a good way to find out what are we made out of.
AIG's guilty" Perhaps, but AIG -and every other financial institution that were bailed by the Obamam administration without any type of reserves or guidelines- is doing exactly the same that millions of unemployed are doing, taking advanteg fo what it is being offered to them to help them survive "uneployment insurance" and as guilty are all the financial institutions as the, we, the general public that rode the financial boom and did not saved for a rainy day.
Again, it is easy -and the laziest thing to do- to blame. Why don't you invest the time taken to type your opinions blamimg third parties (a very lame way) and invested finding ways to get out of this thight situation and in the process helping showing people like Benmosche how to do it right.

May 22 2013 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a hypocrite! He and people like him are directly responsible for the economy and high unemployment and he's giving students advice? I wonder how many of the graduates at his alma mater majored in Bus. Admin. It's a degree and that's about all you can say about it. Not enough jobs and an overload of Business degree majors with very limited skills that any college grad could pick-up in a year on the job, or less. He''s responsible for that, too, and a sorry lack of math and science majors. An art major will do better, probably a lot better, considering computer graphics, etc. This guy is a killer of dreams and now he's out ignoring it (denying it) and advising graduates to suck it up, don't be a "cry baby" and take any job they can get. How about we prosecute this nitwit, and as he's marching off to jail we can tell him not to be a "cry baby."

May 21 2013 at 8:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

This man and his company may have satyed slightly within the rules but he still comes across as the CEO of a less than honest company that is not known for fair play or integrity. Who who was the "idiot" who invited this man to go anyplace to say anything to anyone one about how to conduct either their professional or business life? A creep and a thief only has one place in life and that is behind some building getting his a-- handed to him. his advice might be right on the money in this crooked world but he taints it by who he is and what his company has done. I would like our world and business leaders to have some self integrity

May 21 2013 at 5:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jrp1947's comment

not an advocate fro this man or his company but it was our f n government and Barney Frank and that dodd guy that began and caused the whole mess. they juist used morgan, and aig as the fall guys.banks made it hand over fist from all ends. but it was our gov. and we will pay

May 21 2013 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tma2c's comment

Oh? And what about deregulation. Think that might have had something to do with it? That was government, too...releasing the corporate world to pretty much do whatever they wanted to, without paying taxes!

May 21 2013 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

As a Libertarian, let me say I was no fan of the bail-outs, especially to GM and Chrysler who still owe the taxpayers more than $50 billion. What is not mentioned here or in most of the comments about the "free" taxpayers dollars AIG got, is that it wasn't "free" money. As of January of this year, AIG paid back the $182 billion bailout LOAN as well as $12 billion in interest on top of that.

Our government borrowed the money to bailout these companies. Then when it was paid back, it didn't go back into the Treasury to reduce our deficit. Instead it was used as a slush fund for hidden and wasteful stimulus spending. It would be like someone getting a cash advance from their credit card so they could loan it to a friend. Then when the friend pays it back with interest, you don't use that money to reduce your credit card debt, you use it to buy a new set of golf clubs that your wife doesn't know about and wouldn't have approved because you owe too much in credit card debt.

This guy simply encouraged these grads to get a job, any job and pay back your college loans just like AIG paid back the money and interest they owed from the bailout. When the economy improves, hopefully you will then benefit from your degree if you chose a sensible major (not philosophy, art history or some other useless degree).

May 21 2013 at 3:54 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Personally he is a man of no integrity and has no business giving advice.

May 21 2013 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He's right. In fact, when I graduated back in the 90's there were quite a few of us who didn't obtain a job in the field of our respective degrees. It's not a big deal and in the end turned out to be the best thing that happened.

May 21 2013 at 2:40 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

You "Smart Asses"think going to college partying

May 21 2013 at 2:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Leave it to a rich knob (that was bailed out because he and others in his field gambled all of the countries money away) to act like a d-bag to college kids that leave college with nothing but a degree and a huge pile of debt. I wonder where this particular CEO would be flipping burgers at if the country that he helped nearly bankrupt didn't bail him out. I wish I was a CEO in the upper 1%. Then I would be able to go to a casino, gamble away every penny I have, then ask the government to bail my business out. Then I could lay off half of my work force and make the other half pick up all of the extra work without giving them any sort of compensation. That's what wall street did, the only difference is they used a different form of casino called "futures." Must be nice to gamble with other peoples money and then when you lose it all be bailed out with other peoples money. I guess they have all of their own personal money invested in politicians. At least their money that they didn't stash in foreign banks to avoid paying taxes to the IRS. Our corporate tax laws are like the game genie for the wealthy. Insurance companies use the tort reform cheat, Donald Trump uses the infinite loans cheat, Politicians use the jurymandering cheat, and the rest of us 99% get the honor of paying for it all. For the land of the freebie grabbing millionaires, and the home of the working poor.

May 21 2013 at 2:38 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

What a dink this guy is. To the grads, if you are not able to get a big buck job, take what ever comes along. That puts money in your pocket. Keep submitting those apps and something will come along. My granddaughter work at a clothing store for big men for almost 2 years, kept plugging away and there it was her dream job with Harra's and along with it the big bucks. Don't give up just keep plugging it will happen.

May 21 2013 at 2:29 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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