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Editorial: A menu for success

While aspiring young business moguls might look to Donald Trump or his TV show ěThe Apprenticeî for entrepreneurial expertise, Bill Austin could teach them a thing or two about success as well.
Austin, who was profiled in Tuesdayís Salisbury Post, got his start as a hired hand at a Charlotte McDonaldís half a century ago. Today, the Rockwell resident owns and operates five of the restaurantís local franchises. Although he may not be a billionaire like ěThe Donald,î his is a genuine American success story ó and, if youíll allow a fashion aside, his hair looks pretty normal, too.
Austinís story is timely because of McDonaldís campaign to hire 50,000 new workers. It also coincides with the spring college graduation season. This new crop of recession-battered grads could benefit from a down-to-earth inspirational example and a dose of reality about the value of perseverance and working your way up the ladder. According to an Associated Press-Viacom poll, about 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 believe it will be tougher to support a family and live the good life than it was for their parentsí generation. A majority also think it will be harder to buy a house and save for a retirement that appears to recede ever-further into the distance, what with rising eligibility ages for Social Security and other factors.
Those concerns are well-founded, economists tell us. The recovery remains fragile, and in North Carolina and other states unemployment rates have barely dipped below 10 percent. Yet as the McDonaldís blitz shows, some companies are looking for good workers. And as Austin illustrates, where you start doesnít determine where you end up.
For those who donít see themselves as golden arches material, thereís still reason for optimism. The job outlook for spring grads is the best since 2007, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Businesses plan to hire 10-20 percent more new graduates than last year. The hiring spans diverse fields ó computer and electronics manufacturing, finance, insurance, pharmaceuticals, engineering and accounting. Expect more headwinds if youíve set your sights on government work or media-related enterprises.
Thatís not to say itís an applicantís market, by any means. Many earlier grads and laid-off workers are also competing for a job. Each collegiate posting draws an average of 21 applications, according to NACE, down from 40 last year. Starting salaries are also stagnant ó just like many workersí wages.
So while happy days arenít here again, the outlook isnít as dire as some might think. Applicants should adjust their expectations accordingly. And bear in mind, as Bill Austin might tell them, that the first step toward success is getting a foot in the door.

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