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TO: Triangle employers

SUBJECT: Your role in maintaining North Carolina's young talent base

Must meet minimum qualifications: Five years of experience, master's degree required.

If I see those words one more time I think I'm going to scream. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors in political science and history from UNC on Sunday, but the main thing that's gotten me so far in my job search is rejection letters. For my fellow graduates and I going into the job market, it just doesn't seem like there are that many good jobs out there that we're "qualified" for.

North Carolina's leaders wring their hands all the time over the state's inability to keep talented young people in the state. But if working as a waiter or a book-shelver at a library are the best opportunities folks who graduated this month can get, it's no wonder so many of us are relocating to Washington, D.C., Atlanta or New York City.

To keep the best and brightest in the area, Triangle employers are going to have to scrap those minimum qualifications impossible for recent grads to have obtained. The good news is that they can still get some of the most talented people, even if we haven't put as many years in.

Folks in the UNC class of 2006 have already accomplished amazing things, and in many cases, if given a chance, will quickly excel in a new position, even if it takes a few months to learn the ropes. If given the choice between a 45-year-old who has lots of experience but is as talented as they're ever going to be, or a 22-year-old who is smart, hard-working and energetic, take the risk by hiring the person on the upswing. It's in the best interests of keeping capable, young people in the state, but in many cases it's also in the best interests of your organization.

So let's make a deal. I'll stay here and try to get as many of my friends as possible to; you make it worth our while. I spent the last two summers overseeing redistricting for the Ann Arbor Public Schools and managing the re-election campaign of the only openly gay legislator in Michigan history. I've had interesting and challenging assignments, so no, I will not spend all my time pouring your coffee or stuffing your envelopes--and neither will most of my friends. Give us good jobs and we'll do you proud.

And if anyone needs a former statewide College Democrats president who serves on the Chapel Hill Planning Board and has had a large leadership role in over 20 political campaigns, you can reach me at tjensen@email.unc.edu or (919) 260-2990.

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