How “Low” Can Jobs for Fresh Graduates Go? The Educated Minimum Wage Worker

This graph represents the number of graduates with minimum wage jobs. In 2013, there were 260,000 grads with minimum wage occupations. Though the trend in minimum wage work seems to be going down for people with degree over the years, jobs for fresh graduates do not offer a lot of promise in 2014 either. That is about a quarter of a million grads with minimum wage jobs.

Minimum wage is not something that college grads think about when they start their degrees. In fact, they think that once their college days are over, they can kiss those minimum wage jobs goodbye. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

According to this CNN money article:

“The only jobs that we're growing are low-wage jobs, and at the same time, wages across occupations, especially in low-wage jobs, are declining,” said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, a staff attorney at the worker advocacy group National Employment Law Project.

Some 58% of the jobs created during the recent economic recovery have been low-wage positions like retail and food prep workers, according to a 2012 NELP report. These low-wage jobs had a median hourly wage of $13.83 or less.

At the same time, median household income has also dropped by more than $4,000 since 2000, according to the Census Bureau.”

That has led to quite a bit of protesting, all over the country, for a higher minimum wage.


I can understand why students would protest:

  1. College degrees take years and tens of thousands of dollars to complete.
  2. Working your butt off, paying $200 for a textbook and successfully graduating should get you more than $7.25 an hour.
  3. Crushing debt means more money needed right out of the gate.
Protesting over minimum wage has received national attention and has picked up momentum all over, even right here in my hometown of Houston, TX.

Could Seattle become the best place for jobs for fresh graduates?

Seattle is very close to going more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Planning is in the works to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Right now, Seattle's minimum wage is $9.32.
Could the United States be following the Chinese model of economic experimentation, when in 1978, China opened up Special Economic Zones; cities that allowed free trade instead of a Communist system?

We are about to find out, as Seattle will be, according to Slate Magazine, “a gigantic laboratory for one of the most ambitious, and quite possibly misbegotten, labor market experiments in recent memory.”

No one has ever hiked their minimum wage that high, that fast, in the United States. Basically, it is like taking a flying leap off of an economic cliff. Will it fly?

Some argue that raising the minimum wage that high will jeopardize low-wage employment, and even jobs for fresh graduates could dwindle.

“Any plan that makes hiring a worker more expensive than in France should be cause for concern. We know that businesses in high-wage countries are especially eager to replace workers with software. Fast-food restaurants in Europe, for instance, have been some of the earliest adopters of labor saving technologies like digital kiosks where customers can order. Those innovations are already beginning to make headway in the United States. But by passing a $15 minimum, Seattle would risk speeding the process up within its city limits.” – Jordan Weissmann, Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.


Jobs For Fresh Graduates: An Overview

Courtesy of Online

The current employment climate is geared towards grads with “applicable” skills. There are good chances of jobs for fresh graduates in business administration, engineering, and computer science, to name a few.

Though we have advanced into the information age, liberal arts degrees are in less demand than ever, as having a degree no longer guarantees high-paying jobs, if any.

Is this article meant to be a killjoy?


But we do have to recognize that the system is broken. When we have an abundance of college graduates, paying more for college than their parents or grandparents but getting less of a return, then that is the symptom of a broken system.

I still think that getting a college degree is important.

However, I think that it is time that we recognized that earning a degree and getting a job is not the same as it used to be.


Jobs for Fresh Graduates Who Think Outside the Box

While you are looking for a traditional job, have you considered all of your options? If you are looking for a job, making minimum wage or looking to make more money, then you MUST think outside the box.

First of all, we live in the information age. It is all about what and who you know that opens doors for you. NOT your brawn or even how smart you are. If you are talented and intelligent, but stuck in the prison of industrial age thinking, you are not going to get as far.


My College Level Jobs (internships)

I was hired as an intern to work with M.W. Kellogg during my college days back in 1994. They were merged into Brown and Root to make Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR). I remember being there and there were a TON of layoffs and wasn't sure if I remember if it was due to merging the departments or just market conditions. For sure…. not a happy environment to work in.

I got this job NOT through the college intern program, but I got it by contacting the headhunter (campus recruiter) directly OUTSIDE of the normal system.
Why not?

I have driven by the giant Brown and Root facility as a child going to elementary, middle, and high school for years. I always wanted to work for a large firm and see what it was all about. I wasn't going to let a school system prevent my chances from getting a position with them.

I was one of the few people who got a job there that did NOT have a parent working there.

It was my first time hearing the word. “Nepotism”


I had no clue it was a big thing… I was the “minority”.. not cause I'm Chinese, or didn't have a 3.5+ GPA… but not having a parent that worked there in the company.

I don't blame the company for the dry, and uninteresting work environment. It was more a function of a huge split in age. There were the 30+ year experienced PE (professional engineers) then there were those with less than 10 years.

When I left, I later learned there were very few engineers that stayed that were under 40. Most of the found better paying jobs or better work in general.

One of the killers of working at downtown facility was learning the word -> “Intranet
This was the biggest shocker.

Only being able to SURF the company internal websites and NOT having external access to the Internet. HUGE bummer… and at that time there were no mobile devices with internet.
Let's just say my days were really boring.


First Job Out of College (New Grad)

I joined the ranks of thousands and was lucky to get a job with Motorola Semiconductor in Austin Texas (in the same city.. super hard to get a Mechanical Engineering Job in Austin as most were Electrical or Computer Engineering jobs in Austin).

This was probably one of the best jobs I've ever had.

  1. Good pay ($50,000 back in year – 2000)
  2. In Austin (I graduated University of Texas at Austin in 2000)
  3. Good mix of experienced and young coworkers
  4. Ping Pong Table (I literally played probably 3-4 times a week with a cube mate)
  5. The newer facility in town we went to for trainings had Quake on a couple network machines to play for down time. When people take smoke and stretch breaks, I would go play ping pong and others would play video games.
  6. Had internet access (not just intranet)
  7. In the 1 year I was at the Oak Hill facility. I probably ate there 5 times. The rest of the time I was so close to home I just went home to make a sandwich and take a nap.
  8. The hours were super flexible.
  9. Got this giant Motorola pager (see image to the right) and I thought I was super important.. hahaha. It was so big I would constantly clip walls and desks as it was clipped to the belt. I probably only used it 1 – 2 times a week for reporting into the manager.
  10. Got laid off after 1 year being there after the 9/11 twin towers incident. The whole department got dissolved and eventually Motorola Semiconductor was sold FreeScale Semiconductor in 2004.

Good times….

I got this Motorola job also outside of the Campus recruiting cycles. I had submitted my resume to over 50 different companies outside of the campus computers … going DIRECTLY to the companies Human Resources departments. Motorola sent me an email about having interviews. I answered and got hired after 2 interviews. One over the phone and one on site with the other applicants.

From the Internship to the first New Grad job I got…. both of them were landed by taking massive action and just going after what I wanted. I didn't rely on the systems in place to take care of me or just “placed my bets” with them. Both awesome experiences and one I would recommend anyone.

Go send your resume to over 100 places and be visible to any hiring company.

My Engineering career (I won't go into detail as it covers over 12 years in the industry)
– one job through a friend

– one job through a headhunter I connected with

– another intern through a professor

If you are new grad or about to graduate… it's time to put on your big boy/girl pants and GO GET IT.

I retired from Mechanical Engineering in 2012 (forced retirement) as they laid me off when I was 33. I decided to never go back into the industry and have since went full time in my internet marketing and consulting business.

My peak income for Engineering was right under $100,000 in a year.
My peak income for internet marketing was right under $800,000 in a year.

If you are getting a job for the money…. there is a lot more out there for those that are hungry. If you want to apply your degree.. do so.. Don't do it cause you think that pays the best.. Feel it out. Be it in doing something you LOVE or doing it for the money.

If it's NEITHER…. figure 2-5 year gameplan to exit to what you want… money/passion or both 😉


Plenty of Jobs for Fresh Graduates Working Online

One of the best ways to provide jobs for fresh graduates is to look for work online.

You should be well-organized, so that you weed out the wheat from the chaff.

Do a lot of research. In a few hours, you can get a lot of information about jobs for fresh graduates. There are plenty of jobs out there, that you don't have to drive to, or even get dressed up for. Figure out if your goal is to work FOR someone or have people work FOR you.


Create Your Own Job, Your Own Economy

Having your own business is the dream of many college students. If it is yours, then consider building an online business which combines basic marketing skills plus your area of expertise. Again, research is the key. Do a lot of research, but do not fall into the trap of being in constant research mode. Take action, get your hands dirty and take some risk.

Of course, there are some risks, but looking for work online or becoming an entrepreneur can get you out of minimum wage mode – if you know what you are doing.

Have you been stuck in a minimum wage job with a degree yourself? Are there any jobs for fresh graduates that people want?
(I worked at Babbage's for $5/hr in 1994 in college – now called Gamestop)


Comment Below On Your College Job Experience, Internship, New Grad Job.

Lawrence Tam

Helping people since 2007 get online and make some money. Living a happy and healthy lifestyle by playing online and Generating his first million in 2013 with 3 kids and doing most of it part time while working as a Mechanical Engineer. Go through his 10 videos on Marketing by clicking here.

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16 thoughts on “How “Low” Can Jobs for Fresh Graduates Go? The Educated Minimum Wage Worker

  1. This blog is just really sets the standard for what a blog should be. Such value in a topic I think from observing you and hearing you, living this first hand is kind of your story. Grateful for all you do!

  2. As always it is a pleasure learning from you Lawrence…As a teacher in high school is is always nice to know the trends going around to share why they want to consider their options at times.

  3. This is an incredible article, Lawrence. Thank you for putting all of the pieces together. I graduated college in 1992 with a Business Management degree minoring in marketing.

    It seems like every 5 years it’s become harder for kids to graduate college and then find a good-paying job in their field.

    It definitely takes learning how to be in the top 1% of your profession, in order to stand out from the hundreds of eligible applicants.

    I’m eager to see how the Seattle “experiment” turns out.

    My prediction is many businesses will fail because they’ll have to raise prices in order to pay its workers, when they could do business elsewhere and hire workers for a lower pay.

    The most “freeing” though I’ve had was being online realizing anyone reading this article from anywhere around the world can create a job and/or business right on the very same keyboard they may use to contribute to this article. 🙂

    • I have a feeling also that Seattle will crumble…

      want a bottle of water for $1.. yeah right.. not when minimum wage is that high..

      it’s like waiting for a train wreck.. it’s going to happen

  4. This is a great article,

    I decided to go after a degree in Entrepreneurship because I want to be the one cutting the checks. I come from a rough background, The last month of my senior year in high school I was expelled and didn’t return the following year because I was indulging in street hustling which landed me in the State Penitentiary multiple times. When I was released the last time (2010 ) I only had a GED and I knew I needed a JOB but I ended up working two JOBS one at a Warehouse as a Forklift Operator and the other was at Family dollar as a Cashier/Stocker all while attending College and that took a toll on me. In 2013, I started look for a way out of that lifestyle but I didn’t do proper research and really didn’t know which route to take. So fast forward I looked into online marketing and jumped head first at the first opportunity I saw and failed miserably. In 2014, I decided to enroll in an online course at Ashford University at The Forbes School of Business so I can get the proper skill set since my upline wasn’t as helpful and also I searched for Internship Programs and found something I had a passion for and that’s Music(Hip-Hop), Sports, and African American Culture. I put my resume on sites like Zip Recruiter to try and get a regular Job to make ends meet, but the background check was stopping me from getting the Job that I felt comfortable with. Today I have 100’s of Job offers in The Forklift Department I’m at a point where I haven’t decided which JOB to take for now I’m sorting through my options. I don’t have any children nor bills so I’m not jumping on the first Job offer. But I am looking at this JOB offer I received today, I need the money so I can go “ALL IN.” If you know what I mean.

  5. What a lot of people don’t understand is the reason min wage jobs are on the rise is because people settle. They go to school all just to come oit and either not be able to find a good paying job or they have to settle for what theybcan get. If people would just believe that they can do anything they truly desire then this world would come out of its poverty and everyone would prosper. Love the info graphic too man. This post is great. I know a lot of people will get massive value from it. Keep up the good work 🙂

  6. This is really great information. It is sad knowing that a lot of the kids today after getting their degrees are settling for a minimum wage job. This is an article every college student should read. Thanks for sharing this information.

  7. Thanks Lawrence, I am so happy I got my online business started. Its a great reminder that when you work for a company job security is always an issue and the pay structure is set by the company, not you or your effort. So getting an online business make sense, because you can build it until it takes off and then you can quit that 9-5 job. That’s my plan.

  8. Very eye-opening article here, Lawrence. I like that you included your own employment experience to let us get to see your backstory. I live in a town of 2300 people who fit into three categories: service workers, business owners or retirees. Quite a lot of the service workers I know have college degrees and are working several jobs just to afford to live here. Someone said at an event, “You don’t need a job. You need income.” I think if some of our service workers understood that, they wouldn’t have to work as hard for so little pay. I’ve been psychologically unemployable for a couple years now and should anything happen to the company I work with, I’d still just find a way to work for myself instead of seeking traditional employment.

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