Stephanie Kelly graduated in 2009 with a degree in advertising; instead she works as a part-time secretary and writes freelance for an online “Secret Santa Organizer.” Amy Klein has a degree in English lit from Harvard, but the 2007 grad has been touring the country in a minivan as part of a punk rock band. Stephanie Morales graduated from Dartmouth and ended up waiting tables for $2.17 per hour. They’re part of the group of highly-educated 20-somethings with dead-end jobs that the New York Times calls “Generation Limbo,” and not all of them are unhappy with where they are in life: “I can cook and write at my own pace,” says Kelly. “I’m fulfilling my artistic goals,” says Klein.
“They are a postponed generation,” says one expert who authored a study that found 14% of college graduates from 2006 to 2010 are still looking for full-time jobs, and also found that fewer graduates describe their first—or even their second—job as a “career.” He notes that they are also living at home longer and are basically stalled, waiting. Some, of course, are angry that they “did everything we were supposed to,” as Morales says, yet still ended up victims of a poor economy and a lack of jobs—sometimes even on welfare. “You don’t expect someone who just spent four years in Ivy League schools to be on food stamps,” she adds. (Read more recession stories.)