Introduction

The premise of this book dates back to October of 2008, five months after I graduated college. I had tagged along with Mom and Dad, my roommates at the time, to a family gathering, and at some point the conversation turned to my recent employment misadventures.

My uncle, who found the situation humorous in a pitiful sort of way, shook his head and said, “You know, you should write a book about how much it sucked to graduate in 2008.”

I thought it was a good idea – 2008 was indeed a rough year to graduate – but I also thought it was too niche. The mess that engulfed the Class of 2008, I reckoned, would surely be tidied up by next spring. The Class of 2009 would then resume the inevitable march toward employment, thus rendering a book about young graduate job woes rather moot.

I was wrong, of course. And as incisive as my uncle was about the topic, he was wrong too. There was, as we now know, no point in writing about how much it sucked to graduate in 2008. Not because 2008 was a one-off phenomenon, but because it was merely the start of something much more sinister.

Recent graduates are, as graduates ever have been, further from ground zero of hardship than most. But the difference this time around (other than tuition prices) is the historic magnitude of the blast. I washed up at my parents’ place and then sought refuge wherever I could find it. The resulting scramble took me on an unwitting tour of the world and thoroughly leveled the plans I had once harbored – including, among other things, solvency.

Save a bunch of stamps in my passport, the only thing distinguishing me from other young grads is that I had a strangely unquenchable urge to chronicle what happened. I felt that it would be a shame to squander my front row seat for such a uniquely devastating event. Naturally, it’s not like I had a job taking up all my time.

By force of will and talent, many of my peers conquered the same circumstances that battered me. I don’t mean to speak for them when, in the ensuing chapters, I use words like us, we, our. Instead, those words refer to people who have been ravaged by events that they had nothing to do with. People who, like I, had lost graduations of their own.