Bill Sniffin: Hey Grads, Why Work? Doesn’t The Government Owe You A Living? Sit Back and Enjoy Life!

Columnist Bill Sniffin writes, "Previous generations were looking for companies that would employ them forever when they graduated from high school. Such companies are hard to find today.”

Bill Sniffin

May 28, 20236 min read

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Has the world really turned upside down? Can you make as much money being a lazy lout hanging out in your parents’ basement than you can getting a job?

Such a scenario seems to be the conventional wisdom these days and our economy is showing it. Every business is looking for new workers. And every business is suffering from workers who do not show up. And they are suffering from lazy workers who, no matter what, will not do their jobs.

Who is in charge here?

Advice To Graduates Column

This is my annual Advice to Graduates column, which I have written for over 30 years. It is always fun because the advice offered in good faith just seems to make so much sense to me. 

After delivering a number of graduation talks over the years, this column serves that purpose during these times.

But has the world changed?

Yes, it has.

In previous years I would always remind graduates that to not despair – there are people looking for you as hard as you are looking for them. You need to just keep knocking on doors.

Way too many people lose the chance at great opportunities by giving up too soon.

In fairness to today’s young people, they complain that there are plenty of jobs and most are not very good jobs. It appears that many of these young folks are somewhat more impatient compared to their parents and grandparents. 

Previous generations had to put in the time. We had to pay our dues in order to work our way up to a better job. It seems like a lot of today’s grads want that great job and they want it now.

Another issue confronting today’s grads is the increased cost of housing and other costs. Will these folks ever be able to own their own homes? With recent increases in home loan interest rates, the future looks grim.

We bought our first home back in 1968 through a Farmers Home Administration program that turned renters into owners. Not sure what programs are out there today for first-time home buyers but these programs can sure give a boost to young people starting out in their adult lives.

It Is An International Workplace

Today, these students are competing in an international world. They could just as well be competing with a worker from India as one from America in their new workplace.

These graduates face a time when even a college education might not be enough. They face a lifetime of education. A paradigm has occurred here. We are living during a time when the world is changing so fast, good employees will need constant retraining and continuing education in order to be successful. Artificial intelligence will be a key component for many jobs in the future.

It’s been reported that today’s graduate may have as many as seven different careers before his or her working days are over. This makes for a terrific strain on their educational selection process.

If you end up being a computer whiz, what good did all that chemistry do for you? If you end up making your fortune in networking or marketing, why even go to college in the first place? These are difficult questions.

Previous generations were looking for companies that would employ them forever when they graduated from high school. Such companies are hard to find today.

The world of business is a strange place compared to the recent past. For example:

That long-time prediction is coming true out here in the West, that we are attracting large numbers of lone eagles -- those people who live on a ranch and commute by satellite or the internet to their workplace.

The pandemic literally forced this trend upon us.

And we predict that some of today’s high school grads will lead very successful lives without finishing college. By concentrating on service industries and such crafts as contracting, they could be very successful.

That Darned Mass Exodus Of Talent

We hate it that so many grads will have to leave Wyoming to find their ideal jobs. Our advice to young people has always been, that, if they insist on leaving, maybe they should get out there and see the world – when they find out more about life – then, come on back. Wyoming will need your skills and your knowledge.

Here are some ideas we’d pass along to grads:

The best thing today’s high school graduate can do is keep his or her mind open. Learn how to learn. And don’t ever quit learning.

Find mentors. Locate those experienced people who are successful and find out from them how they did it. Make a friend out of this mentor and keep in touch with him or her.

Most parents hate to hear this advice – but you might consider dropping out of college for a semester or a year. Wander around. Preferably, go overseas. Get a feel for the world. That will be every bit as educational to your future as sitting in a classroom. And then, go back and finish your education.

Check into reliable fun and growing industries like tourism, anything to do with the Internet and computers, leisure industries and service industries.

Be fast on your feet. The speed of business today is very rapid. Often, the person there first gets the good job. Make contacts and be ready to move when the opportunity presents itself. Keep abreast of trends in your chosen field and watch out for AI (artificial intelligence.)

With all the above said, we think today’s grads are living in a time of great opportunity. We wish them well.

I would wrap up such a talk with a quote from Winston Churchill who addressed the English people in 1940 after the bombing of Great Britain had begun. He said, “I can’t tell you this is the beginning nor that this is the end. But I can assure you that we have completed the end of the beginning . . .”

And, so it is with our 2023 graduates.

Congratulations to the grads and their families. Good luck for the rest of your lives.

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.