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What’s Really Important to #YoungAmerica? Jobs.

At a time when the unemployment rate remains at a staggering 9% overall, young people are frustrated. Ideas are continuously being bandied across political news programs and between politicians. Unfortunately, it is rare to hear the ideas of those in my generation who may be the most affected by the lack of a real economic recovery in the long run.

Last week, alongside about 40 college students and recent graduates, I had the opportunity to attend the conference, “Jobs for Young Americans Day on the Hill” hosted by the Young Invincibles.

Commencing the day- long conference, we visited the offices of both Democratic and Republican law makers to discuss ways in which young people can obtain employment under the American Jobs Act; specifically the Pathways Back to Work Fund, which would provide industry based training for young adults, helping to prepare for long-term employment.

Ending the day, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Benjamin Cardin (D- MD) held a press conference where they expressed their support for the many proposals in the American Jobs Act that would make youth employment a reality instead of a dream.

As a young woman, the recovery has left me in the dust concerning employment. I graduated from college last May and still have not gained full-time employment (not due to a lack of trying). So instead, I took a part-time, un-paid internship in a field in which I would love to work. Although I’ve learned more during this experience than I am able to accurately express, the lack of income is, as you can imagine, extremely burdensome. Aside from having to pay rent each month, my student loan payments have officially begun. After my internship ends in December, my current plan is to move back home to New York where I will continue to work several part-time jobs and tirelessly apply for full-time work.

My sister graduated from college four years ago with a degree in music business. Her dream was to open a music venue. Currently she is working as a recruiter at a company specializing in media. The job itself is well paid and challenging; however, it is far from what she is passionate about. This weekend we were discussing our circumstances and she made a statement that many young people can relate to: “this job is just a job. It pays my bills and my student loans. If I could work at a non-profit, I would. But logically I can’t. Even with this salary, I am only paying off the interest on my loans. I have to have this job.”

It is truly disconcerting when I think about the millions of other young people in this country who have for various reasons, chosen to pursue higher education and accepted the financial responsibilities associated with it, and who now, cannot find employment in the field in which they have spent so much time studying. Our society places so much importance on higher education and earning a degree, yet many young people either cannot afford to initially take on that burden or cannot afford to pay off their loans after college. The staggering cost of higher education in this country is crippling and creating a hurdle for many young people to financially advance and be successful in their field of interest.

Thanks to the Young Invincibles “Jobs for Young American’s Day on the Hill” conference, more young people are educated on the various initiatives the President has laid out in the American Jobs Act. The goal of the event was to not only communicate support of the Act to members of Congress, but to mobilize young Americans to take action and be proactive in our struggle against unemployment. I’m confident that the Young Invincibles were successful in their endeavor.

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