If you don't get good job right out of college, or graduate school, then you are screwed for life.
Yes, that's the depressing news from a New York Times Economic Scene article:
The recent evidence shows quite clearly that in today's economy starting at the bottom is a recipe for being underpaid for a long time to come. Graduates' first jobs have an inordinate impact on their career path and their "future income stream," as economists refer to a person's earnings over a lifetime.
. . .
The Stanford class of 1988, for example, entered the job market just after the market crash of 1987. Banks were not hiring, and so average wages for that class were lower than for the class of 1987 or for later classes that came out after the market recovered. Even a decade or more later, the class of 1988 was still earning significantly less. They missed the plum jobs right out of the gate and never recovered.
And as economists have looked at the economy of the last two decades, they have found that Dr. Oyer's findings hold for more than just high-end M.B.A. students on Wall Street. They are also true for college students. A recent study, by the economists Philip Oreopoulos, Till Von Wachter and Andrew Heisz, "The Short- and Long-Term Career Effects of Graduating in a Recession" (National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 12159, April 2006. ), finds that the setback in earnings for college students who graduate in a recession stays with them for the next 10 years.
This was certainly true for law school. In fact, the summer associate position you get, or fail to get, during the summer between the second and third years of law school basically seals your fate in the legal job market.
This clearly demonstrates what a large role luck plays in how much money a person earns. Being unlucky and graduating during a year when firms aren't hiring creates a permanent stain upon a person's future earnings.