The potential implications of the current economic crisis became clearest to me last Monday as I was riding the bus home. The House of Representatives had just failed to pass the bailout bill (merely delaying its enactment until Friday), and for the first time since the economy began unraveling last year, I saw some real concern among my peers: News of the bill's defeat was spreading through the bus like wildfire, and people were nervous for what tomorrow would bring.
"Just our luck that this happens our senior year," one acquaintance of mine said to his friend. And it's true. Who knows how many of our seniors had internships with Lehman Brothers or Merrill Lynch this summer? Anybody who got an offer out of the experience is now starting at square one.
With tens of thousands of people with professional finance experience now looking for jobs, the market sure can't be that great for a 22-year-old college graduate. Even if the jobs are out there to be had, they're not likely to be paying the starting salary many CSOMers hope for.
But it's not just our business students who are in trouble. The New York Times recently reported that nonprofit organizations are facing major trouble; it seems that those greedy Wall Street pigs actually donate huge sums of money to all sorts of organizations. The personal foundation of Richard Fuld, the vilified Lehman CEO, gave away about $5 million in 2006. Sure, that's a small portion of the $45 million he was getting to run the firm into the ground, but any organization that depended on that funding is about to face major cutbacks.
What does it all mean? Ironically enough, in a time of severe trouble for millions of Americans (and people around the world), our service-oriented seniors may not have so easy a time finding an organization to volunteer with. Programs that used to have dire need for volunteers may not exist anymore as nonprofits are forced to trim their budgets. And try finding a permanent job, even for $20,000 a year, with a charitable organization or NGO.
For that matter, try finding any job, anywhere, in any field. Odds are you'll be competing with peoplefive to 10 years older than you, with more experience and better recommendations. But that's not the worst of the crisis for us. For many people, merely returning to school next year may be a struggle. Who knows how many families were among those tens of thousands who lost their Wall Street income this month or will in the near future (my guess: more than a few).
More importantly, who knows how many kids who depend on loans won't be able to get any next year? The agency I depended on for my own loans, MEFA, was not able to release funds until mid-September after major banks nationwide stopped lending to them. And that's a government agency; private banks, even with the bailout, are likely to continue to constrict their lending in the coming months (the bailout merely assures that they'll lend some money to some people). Many of us could find ourselves in serious trouble next fall (or even this spring), whether we're stillin collegeor trying to start graduate school.
How willBoston Collegereact? Will the university stabilize tuition and offer far more financial aid? It's easy to say it should, but do we really expect BC to dip into the endowment at a time like this, when 20,000 kids will still want to come here anyway? I personally don't have the slightest clue as to how bad of a hit the endowment has taken over the past three weeks and will continue to take over the coming months, but it probably isn't good. Furthermore, I would bet that the capital campaign or the 10-year plan is in serious trouble. There's no doubt that we had literally hundreds (at least) of graduates working for recently deceased companies, some of whom were major donors. Even people who haven't lost their fortunes (whom there are much more of) are unlikely to be donating millions to anything (charity or university) in such an uncertain time.
I wish I had some decent words of wisdom or advice or even a suggestion. I don't, save to say that we should all stop focusing on tomorrow. The recession could last six months, in which case we needn't worry about all the aforementioned situations. It could last six years. We can't control it, so in the meantime, enjoy today.