Another in the of stories by WORD writers about Hunter students dealing with the Grim Recession.

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Photo for Milness Recession Article

The first-floor foyer of the West Building where Hunterites and visitors can relax.


Students’ Families Are Taking Hits Too

Dima Kondratyev, of Avenue U in Brooklyn, circled his finger on the rim of a coffee cup in the third-floor cafeteria and spoke about plans to deal with an uncertain future. “I’m contemplating dropping theatre as my major because Hunter doesn’t offer the technical aspect of theatre that I like,” he said. He talked about his strategy for dealing with a grim recession as he showed off the Marc Jacobs bracelet he found in a movie theatre. Salvum me, servabo te,it read in Latin. Translated: Save me, I will save you.

“Finding a job may be easy for me, technicians are always needed for concerts and weddings,” he said. Unfortunately, millions of others are worried about their lives, their families and their careers. According to a Business Week article, “The Lost Generation,” October 8 2009, the rate of unemployment among people between the ages of 16 and 24 has increased to more than 18 percent, compared to 13 percent a year ago. To make matters worse, generational competition was expected to be fierce. Multiple generations,” the The Lost Generation” projected apocalyptically, could be fighting for the same scarce jobs. Is possible that in a forseeable future that the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be reporting a 10 percent unemployment rate?

Photo for Milness Article

Hunter passageways seemed especially crowded this fall semester. Especially crowded!

The Great Recession is a menace also stalking the well being of students’ families. “My dad is a construction project manager, and my mom is a nanny. My dad brings in most of the money, and that causes a lot of fighting between them,” said Shannon Ramlochan, 18, of Brooklyn. She has has witnessed how the economy affects people of other generations. The Brooklynite paused to take her books out of her Beatles tote bag for her Music class as she said, “I feel bad that they still pay for my things.”

The economic hardships also hit hard for Daniel Pang of Dahill Road in Brooklyn. “My mom got laid off back in 2000 and has been bouncing back and forth between different companies. Right now, she’s freelancing,” said Pang, who was sitting with friends on the third-floor crosswalk connecting the Hunter North and West buildings. “I made enough working at the census bureau to pay for my own things, and some of my books this year.”


Students Are Constantly Strategizing

Students also have opted to stay at home for school in order to save money. Eighteen-year-old Jessica Lamdon, of Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, turned down an opportunity to live in the Hunter dorms to avoid paying off loans later. “It would be so much more convenient to live there,” the theater major said as she interlaced her fingers with a long pearl necklace, “but I don’t want to put my parents in any more financial worry, so I declined.”

The Businessweek article also reported that those with a college education were more likely to get jobs in higher positions. Pang, who was still undecided in his major, said, “It is definitely important to finish school because these days the qualifications are so high that a bachelor really doesn’t cut it anymore. But most of the time people find jobs through people they know through college or family,” he said.

Many would agree that it is important to have good networking connections for a successful job search. Lamdon sat outside of the Hunter West building and lamented, “It’s not about what you know, but who you know. Colleges should focus on networking” opportunities for their students. Kondratyev got lucky with a New York State maintenance job over the summer. “I got the job through a friend at my other job at a deli. I maintained facilities for Roosevelt Island. I had to paint lamp posts all day, it was horrible. But I got paid $15 an hour so I kept my mouth shut!”

He also said that the job was very unchallenging. For an aspiring theater technician, painting lamp posts was not the ideal job.

Yet, many students my be so desperate that they take menial employment that in the long run may not help their careers. According to “The Lost Generation,” this could significantly depress their lifetime incomes. Ramlochan, who was undecided about a major, expressed the same despair about applying to jobs; she has applied to more than 30. “None of them replied,” she said, shaking her head.



Zoey Russo Searched in Vain for a Job

The Businessweek article also said that “would-be-star employees” are sitting on the sidelines, deprived of experiences. Experience seems to be tricky, according to Zoey Russo, 18, of Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn. The sophomore searched for work over the summer, but could not find a job. “Everywhere I look that has a help wanted sign also says that experience is required,” the theater major said, pushing thick-rimmed glasses up the bridge of her nose as she sat in the sun on the seventh-floor balcony. “But if all the places need experience, then where are the inexperienced people going to get it!”

According to “The Lost Generation,” the U.S. government had considered a plan to give $3,000 tax credits to employers for each new hire. But an administration spokesperson said talks with Congress were only preliminary. This young generation may find ways around this slump, but it looks like this surge of unemployment will be around for a long time.


Nina Milnes can be reached nmilnes@hunter.cuny.edu