Great Recession Grads: "Freelancing Allowed Me To Be Entrepreneurial"

As the 2018 graduates toss their mortar boards into the air, they should be celebrating not just their new diplomas but the fact they’re graduating into the best economic situation the U.S. has seen in a decade. The starting salary for Class of 2018 is expected to be over $50,000.
That’s a stark difference to the reality that faced the Class of 2008, who 10 years ago graduated on the eve of the Great Recession. That spring, the unemployment rate was on the rise, and by 2012, only two-thirds of 2008 grads were employed full-time. While the U.S. economy has slowly recovered over the past decade, many believe that the Class of 2008 will suffer permanent career setbacks which will affect their earnings for years to come.
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Until the end of the month, in our limited series Great Recession Grads, we'll be catching up with women from the class of 2008 to learn about the professional and financial challenges they’ve faced over the last 10 years. As many of them learned, your career trajectory can be as much a product of forces beyond your control as it is your own choices. Here's what they have to say.
Name: Chloe Raynes
Age: 32
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Major: B.A. in Music Composition
Occupation: Director of Music Licensing and Partnerships, Aaptiv
What was your first job after graduation and how long did it take you to get that job?
"I actually went to more school after undergrad. I attended a liberal arts college, graduated in 2008, and I didn't have any internship experience. I felt like I didn't have the specialization that would equip me to compete in what is already a very competitive market — and I'm sure in 2008 it was even harder to get a job in the music industry. I didn't feel like I was ready to go out and get the best job I possibly could, so I went to career school and graduate school right after college."
How long were you in school?
"Three years. I first went to career school for audio engineering at SAE Institute, and then I did a master of the arts program at NYU in music business."
Do you think the last 10 years of your career would have gone differently if you hadn’t graduated when you did?
"I certainly think it would have been very different if I had sought a job straight out of college instead of going to school. I was able to learn a lot in graduate school and really figure out where I wanted to specialize in the music industry. I learned things about jobs that I didn't really know existed coming out of undergrad. I imagine if I had looked for an entry-level position in the music industry — if I had even been able to find one in 2008 — the course of my career would have been very different."
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How do you feel about the economy now?
"There was a lot of pandemonium in the news when I graduated and the climate definitely felt different than it does now. I'm just coming off a number of years of freelancing and this is my first full-time job in a while. It started as a freelance position and then turned into a full-time gig and it’s been amazing.
"If you find a great job that's a perfect fit, you can do a lot of different things and hone your skills. But freelancing allowed me to be entrepreneurial, learn about a lot of different areas of the music and entertainment industries, and develop skills that set me up for the exact job I have now. My company is hiring, and in general, my friends all have great jobs, so things feel really good right now."
Any advice for the class of 2018?
"Do what you love, and do what you want to do. I have been so lucky to get the opportunities I've had throughout my career and to really excel in the areas I'm passionate about. I see friends or other people I know who are in jobs they don't love, and I think that's never fun — to spend 40 hours a week doing something you're not super passionate about. Pursue your dreams; you won't regret it later."
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