Unemployed College Grad

16 Aug

Graduation day. Full of excitement and unemployed.

My Current Project

I just graduated college in one of the worst economic climates of recent years. Just last month, 131,000 jobs have been lost in the United States. Now, hold on. I have a four-year degree from a well-respected private university, getting a job should be no problem, right? WRONG. Let me tell you from a person currently living in the trenches of this job-hunt warfare, it has not been a fun process. I have sent my resume to over fifty potential employers with only a fraction even responding with an email confirmation, let alone an interview opportunity. Now, every time I send my resume somewhere I have the feeling I am sending it into a blackhole never to see it again.  I’m not telling you this so you can feel sorry for me (although, if you know someone hiring, go ahead and feel sorry for me and refer that person to my resume). I’m telling you this to explain my current situation and what I am choosing to do with my spare time to make the most of it (other than writing this blog).

A Brief History

For several years now, I have been very intrigued by the idea of investing in real estate. Growing up, my Dad always told my brothers and I really interesting stories of when he was younger and would invest in real estate with his Dad.  I always thought that that sounded like something fun to do while learning a lot of important lifelong skills and making some money on the side. So, over the past couple of years I started reading real estate investing books, asking questions, and just imagining what that would look like specifically for me. Fast-forward to Fall semester of my senior year of college. I had been learning a lot in my business classes and I wanted to actually apply some of the ideas I had been learning in a real business environment. So, I bought a notebook, called my Dad and asked him how I could get started in real estate investing. At that time, my goal was to purchase a home within a short distance from my school and rent it out to fellow college students. My thinking was that there was a unique opportunity to be had there because I knew the area, I knew the students, and I knew that they would be willing to pay a ‘premium’ price per month because so many people live in one house.

After working seriously towards this goal and working closely with a real estate agent, I began to think what my post-college plans would be. I decided that I would be moving home to the Bay Area after college and with the time constraint of the end of the school year, I decided to hold off on my real estate pursuits until I moved back home. Although I didn’t meet my original goal of buying a house that school year, I learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to seriously invest in real estate: A lot of work. Although real estate investing can take on many different forms, when I say “real estate investing” I am more specifically talking about purchasing single family homes that are somewhat distressed, add value to them by fixing them up, and then selling them and, hopefully, if done correctly, making a profit. (Note: I stay away from the term “house-flipping” because that generally has a negative connotation to some and is significantly more risky and usually involves never actually taking ownership of the property.)


Since I have moved back home, my friend Kyle and I met up and came up with a plan to purchase a house to live in while we fix it up and sell it within 12 months. We set an aggressive goal of being in contract to buy a house by September 1st of this year. Since that conversation we have been working hard to learn the market, find our target price, and working closely with a real estate agent. Our focus has been set primarily on bank-owned properties that are in need of some work and have the opportunity to add value to them. While I continue to job search, I spend a considerable amount of my day pursuing real estate investing trying to stay as productive as possible during this unique time of post-graduation-pre-career. So far, we have made offers on two different properties. The first property we made an offer on, the seller (a bank) was not willing to go down to the price we believed the property was worth. The second property we made an offer on we are still waiting to hear back from the seller. That is where Kyle and I currently stand on our current real estate pursuits. I will cover what this looks like on a day-to-day basis for me in a later blog post. For now, I wanted to explain my current situation and how I am trying to make the most out of my time as an unemployed college grad living at my parents house.

4 Responses to “Unemployed College Grad”

  1. Andy Strauch August 17, 2010 at 5:27 AM #

    I feel for you, Colby. I graduated May ’09, and I didn’t get a job until September ’09. Even then, it’s not a career, it’s just a job, and I’ve focused on game development on the side. It’s just ridiculous out there, it has nothing to do with you as an individual. That’s great that you’re interested in real estate and have a project to work on, and I wish you luck.

    • colbynelson August 17, 2010 at 9:53 AM #

      Thanks a lot, Andy. Maybe September will be my time too! I want to play your game already!! haha

  2. Cooper Spicecake August 18, 2010 at 9:28 AM #

    Colbes, I am in the same boat although grad school is in the near horizon for me. I guess we can say that we will have great stories to tell our children when we finally leave this ridiculous recession?

    Oh, I hope or else I should have said heck with college.

  3. joblessgrad June 3, 2011 at 9:51 PM #

    Hi, Colby. Congratulations on your education – it’s worth nothing. But you know that by now.

    I’m impressed with your swift decision to make something happen in real estate. Good for you.

    Personally, I have had the dubious privilege of graduating twice, and falling straight into that void. All I can tell you is I’m too old for this shit.

    You had it bad. You graduated in 2009, and the Great Recession was in full bloom then. Good times.

    I graduated in Dec. 2008. I recall sitting at the local Dunkin’ Donuts when Lehman Brothers – at the time the 5th largest financial services company in the world – collapsed. The stock market crashed, and even kids who didn’t know and didn’t care about the stock market cared that day.

    I was about to graduate, was stressed out of my mind, and now it was obvious that I would be graduating straight into unemployment. I hoped I was wrong. I wasn’t.

    I spent 8 months unemployed, doing odd jobs when I could, until I decided to bypass this crappy phase of my life with another degree. I didn’t want to do it, because to this day I deeply resent academia for not having prepared me adequately for the real world. This was especially true during this economic mess – much obliged, Wall Street – and I hated rewarding them with even more of my money and time. But these fucks had me against the wall. So I broke down and went back to school.

    And now, in May 2011, I am all but finished with my M.S. in engineering. I would tell you how it feels, but it’s just a void down here. Nothingness. Futility describes how I feel about my horrid effort to excel in college for so many years. With a 3.88 GPA, there is no interest in me. With military service, experience as an aerospace technician, and a secret security clearance, even aerospace & defense companies like United Technologies and General Electric take no interest.

    My best offer so far has been a contracting position for $15/hour doing administrative work unrelated to my engineering degree, 20 hours/week. All my advanced calculus and computational abilities mean nothing. Still, it’s better than sawing and polishing metal samples, I suppose.

    And then it hit me,

    How do you pop bottles in the ice like a blizzard and feel so fly like a G6?

    You need to sip some sizzurp in your ride like Three 6. THEN, you can truly feel so fly like a G6.

    The point being, you can’t live after an illusion. A career is not worth this misery. You gave it ample time, and it led you nowhere. So fuck it. Sip some sizzurp in your ride like Three 6.

    …and that is all I have to say about that.
    – Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump (1994)

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