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Stalled on the On-Ramp to the Road to Success

July 07, 1994|WENDY MILLER | Wendy Miller is editor of Ventura County Life

Since the Middle Ages, colleges and universities have been centers of intellectual life. And while there are many who might argue the value of education for education's sake, institutions of higher learning have also had a more practical reason for being: To make it easier for those who attend them to get work. Graduates have long assumed that the years spent locked in education's ivory towers or roaming its hallowed halls should earn them first-class accommodations on the road to success.

Not that long ago, they would have been right. A couple of generations back, a college degree almost guaranteed a plum job. Even 20 years ago, many of us--on campuses witnessing the end of a war and the start of a sexual and social revolution--felt that graduation was a beginning.

To many of today's grads, it now seems like an end.

For this week's Centerpiece, staff writer Pancho Doll talked to nine recent graduates of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks to find out about their job prospects.

Doll was sympathetic to the plight of these grads, none of whom had found full-time employment as of publication of this section. Doll himself finished school in 1986 and found that his job prospects were rather bleak.

"I had just graduated from the University of Missouri and moved to San Francisco, just because," he said. "I went to a placement agency and much to my chagrin, found there were no jobs for aspiring novelists. Instead, I ended up with what was probably the most mind-numbing temp job ever ," he said.

"Gulf Oil had been bought out by some other company, or maybe it was the other way around, but anyway, the personnel files had to be merged and in order to determine which folders came from what company, the Gulf employees needed to have an adhesive label with a purple G attached to them.

"The file room occupied half a floor in a high rise building and for eight hours a day I worked my way down a row of file cabinets seven feet high, pulling out one folder after another, affixing labels."

Have no fear, things did improve for the struggling writer, who eventually landed a job in his field, though it got him no closer to the swells on Russian Hill.

"My first newspaper job paid $5.75 an hour," he said. "After 4 1/2 years of college, I was earning less money than many of the migrant laborers I was covering."

While some recent graduates were stalled on the on-ramp to working life, 11 young debutantes were sailing into society at the 37th Las Patronas Presentation Ball, which you can read about in Leonard Reed's On the Road column.

And for those of you who are already gainfully employed and secure in, or at least resigned to, your place in society, there are plenty of ways this weekend to socialize with friends while spending your hard-earned money. Check out our 11-day calendar for details.

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