Halifax isn’t to blame for young people’s poor job prospects

If you want to live here, you have to make tough decisions about what kind of work you can find.

Every day I read another opinion piece about how the Halifax job market is terrible and why people are being forced to leave the city in order to find work. Every day I get more and more frustrated at people trying to blame this city for their inability to get a job.

When I was choosing my career path, I had two considerations: What can I do that I will enjoy and can I do it in Halifax? I'm from the south shore originally and knew I would never want to be far from my family, so Halifax was always my destination to settle into a career.

I started classes at Mount Saint Vincent University in 2006 in a Bachelor of Arts program. Luckily for me, the girl I started dating (now my wife) was in the public relations program. The more she talked about it, the more I realized I could really see myself enjoying doing this as a career. After one semester in the arts, I transferred into public relations and it was the best career decision I ever made.

But before I transferred, I did my research. Halifax was full of PR/marketing/communications positions with varied levels of experience needed. MSVU boasted the only public relations degree in the country, meaning I wouldn't be competing with graduates from other universities. The program also had a co-operative education program that would provide me with the three most important jobs I would ever have, as they have laid the foundation for my career. I now work as a digital product manager for a sports technology company, all thanks to the experience I gained from one of my co-ops at another tech agency.

Did I think there were cooler, more interesting fields of study out there? Of course I did. For me, those fields would have lead me out of this province and away from my family in order to find a job. That simply wasn't an option for me. I've always been of the belief that when we look back on our lives, the memories that stand out the most won't be from the jobs we have but from the lives we make outside of work. For me, that will be the time spent with my wife, my brothers and my friends and family, with almost all living in Halifax or in this province.

Now, when I read pieces about people having to leave to find work, I am frustrated, specifically because it is always coming from people around my age. The truth is, this isn't completely our generation's fault. Growing up, we were told by the generations above us the only way to get a good job was through an expensive university degree that we would spend more time paying off than making money from.

So we listened, went and got degrees in the fields we found interesting and when we finally finished our last exam, we were told we didn't have enough experience or there simply weren't any jobs in field we chose to study. Our options after graduating were to stay with the jobs we relied on to get us through school (waiters, retail etc.) or take unpaid internships to try and gain experience. I was forced into the second option where I worked for a measly $600 a month as an intern and was lucky enough to get a job afterwards. Other interns I worked with were not so lucky and were forced to go back to waitressing or working retail. I'm not saying these are bad jobs, but when you've spent the last half-decade listening to lectures, writing exams and pulling all-nighters, you feel you deserve to be doing something a little more than bringing people food or selling clothes.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for new graduates in most fields no matter where you live, it's not just limited to Halifax, or Nova Scotia. A Bachelor of Arts provides limited options for jobs prospects anywhere in Canada, so blaming this city for not finding a job with a BA is unfair. Our generation needs to take some of the responsibility here and make sure we do some research and plan ahead.

Bryce Crosby was born in Lockeport, and has lived in Halifax since 2006, Bryce can usually be found on a soccer field or attempting to surf in Lawrencetown.

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