I don't know which generation you are refereing to as "our parents", but if its the "baby boomers" who entered the workforce in the late 60s and early 70s you should ask them about their early days in the job market. 1971 was a very bad year for university graduates, there were more of them than in any preceding year and there were no jobs. The economy was in a shambles, the US was fighting a losing battle in an ill concieved war and the Republicans were rigging the next election. A common line was "stick with Nixon in 72, why change Dicks in the middle of a screw".
All CS jobs required many years of experience with OS/360 MFT2, and CICS, on a 360 model 75 or better. To actually have this experience you would have needed to be part of the development team at IBM.
A PHD was jokingly refered to as a "professional hack driver" (taxi cab) or "professional honeytruck driver" (septic tank cleaner). Those with lesser degrees (unless they happened to be in high demand areas such as CS or Nuclear Physics) were relegated to working at McDonalds. Your CS degree would let you babysit some mainframe for low wages and outrageous hours.
All jobs required experience, there was no way to get the experience, since that required a job that required experience.
Dick ended the "stupid little war" and was impeached in 75 and the Republicans were temporarily turfed out of office in 76.
Somehow all these people worked through that bad patch, most got jobs in their field eventually and went on to have good careers.
As the American election approaches the proverb that "those who ignore history are bound to repeat it" comes to mind. Bitterness etc. doesn't solve anything, but political involvement may.
[ October 08, 2004: Message edited by: peter wooster ]
Who is Dick? Also, please elaborate on the history that you are referring to.
@Peter: Of course I painted a very coarse grained picture and people had allways their fights to stay in job or get better job.
I was refering to the situation of Germany, which is a bit different from US. We did not experience the downturn of the economy in the 70ties like in US. The IT job market was more unstable than others, but it was easier for people to search job in a different field if they wanted than it is now with our very sluggish growth and very high unemployment. So far I have stayed in the market.