After Memorial Day, cold weather becomes a thing of the past and we all wait for a beautiful summer. June is the month of graduations. A new crop of graduates from high schools and colleges get ready to take over the job market. In a way, the future is theirs.
Because of its proximity to Washington, the availability of jobs in the Frederick area is relatively strong. Washington plays a big role in our lives. And goods and service that we need in our daily lives require blessings from Uncle Sam. So the providers of many of the goods and services stay in touch with the federal bureaucracy by opening their offices, production centers or warehouses nearby. It helps both the producer and the consumer and creates jobs in the area.
When most people used to manage all of their businesses within a limited area, life was simpler; there was intimacy among neighbors and everyone was keeping an eye on local kids. Today, we are connected to the whole world. For us, bananas come from Honduras; flowers from Guatemala, sugar from Brazil and gasoline from Arab countries. China has become the major supplier of our consumer goods. Therefore, our connection with the world outside has become quite spread out. Many U.S. cities have built relations of sisterhood with cities around the world. Frederick is no exception. It has a sister city in Germany.
We know that college graduates make more money than high school graduates. Still, every high school graduate will not enroll in college. To begin with, college is expensive. Many cannot afford to go to a four-year institution without some kind of aid or scholarship. Without either of them, some will prefer to enter the job market. In the long run, however, that is not a good idea. If college is not possible, then some kind of job training or apprenticeship as a plumber, bricklayer, electrician, beautician, computer programmer — you name it — comes in handy in the future.
It has been found, in Frederick as well as in other places, young men and women get hooked on the money they get from their starting jobs. At the beginning, such earnings could look pretty big. But that also prevents them from earning a bigger paycheck down the road. Without a degree or a developed skill, many of the young men and women get stuck in a dead-end job that they do not like but cannot afford to quit.
It’s true that some of the very rich and very talented people did not complete college or did not go to one. But we are not talking about very rich or very talented. They are exceptional people. We are talking about ordinary Joes. The world is full of them. Ordinary people do extraordinary things through collective efforts. Years ago, historians used to center their narratives on kings, queens and emperors. Today, history is based on the lives of ordinary folks who go to work, pay their taxes or occasionally demonstrate against unfair treatment of them by their government. This year’s crop of graduates, like those of years past, will face the challenges of their immediate surroundings and beyond. The question is: Are they prepared for it? You bet they are.
I am saying this because these young men and women have a lot more knowledge crammed into their brains than my generation ever did. Not long ago, a typewriter and a dictionary were the tools of trade in college life. Now, the gadgets that are being used daily — smartphone, personal computer, notepad and e-reader — were not even conceived then. In order to get any information about anything, all they have to do is Google it!
Because of the information coming to them constantly, they are forced to get involved in issues such as global warming, fair trade and gun violence. Sometimes they are misunderstood for their multi-colored hair, piercings, or tattooed biceps and ankles. On the whole, they are our sparkling gems.