Soon, another round of bright, young Hoosiers will graduate from college and look to enter the workforce. This is a time of optimism and excitement but can also be met with hesitation as students are faced with the question: What happens next?
Over the past few years, students graduating college have struggled to find employment in today’s competitive job market. In Indiana, however, as our economy continues to grow stronger, more job opportunities are becoming available to college students. In fact, since this time last year, when graduates were accepting their diplomas, Indiana’s unemployment rate declined by two percent. This is the third largest decrease in the nation.
On Sunday, May 11, I had the distinct honor of speaking to graduates of Ivy Tech Southeast at their spring commencement ceremony. As I began preparing for the speech, I wanted to show them that even though I am a state representative, I have been in their shoes before and understand their concerns.
When I thought of all the things that I wanted to share, I immediately went back to 1983. This was a challenging time in Indiana’s economy, and frankly, jobs were not easy to come by. In May of that year, after what seemed like a promising career as a telecommunications technician, I heard those five words that no one ever wants to hear, “You are being laid off.”
As a husband and father of two young children, the thought of having no income was truly frightening. Every morning, I woke up hoping to hear back from an employer, and when opportunities didn’t come, I had to start looking elsewhere for my family’s sake.
I eventually began to look across the country, and soon, my family and I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, where I worked a couple temporary jobs. While I didn’t immediately find what I was interested in, I learned of a career opportunity with the Town of Palm Beach, Fire Department and applied for the position. In March of 1984, I began a career as a professional fire fighter, a duty which I would serve for over 26 years.