If Alison Sadock had finished college before the financial crisis, she probably would have done something corporate, reports the New York Times. Maybe a job in retail, or finance, or brand management at a big company--the kind of work her oldest sister, who graduated in the economically effervescent year of 2005, does at PepsiCo.

 “You know, a normal job,” Ms. Sadock says.

But she graduated in a deep recession in the spring of 2009 when jobs were scarce. Instead of the merchandising career she had imagined, she landed in public service, working on behalf of America’s sickest children. Ms. Sadock is part...

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