Project Jobs: Tips to help college grads find work
Knowing your child will go to college is a comfort compared to the stress of what they will face after graduation. In 2011, roughly half of all bachelor’s degree holders were jobless or underemployed. That’s the highest number in over a decade.
There’s no doubt going from full-time student, to working full-time can be a difficult transition.
Undergrads spend four painstaking years in the classroom, countless hours in the library, and borrow tens of thousands of dollars, all for the same reason–to get a good job after graduation. But for many recent grads, like David Bauer-Ray that plan didn’t work.
“I paid, you know, significant money to go to school and get my degree, and was expecting a job out of it. This is why I went to college. This is what everyone tells you to do.”
Bauer-Ray graduated from the university of Colorado in December with a degree in Advertising and Humanties.
He says he went to class, and got good grades, but still no job.
“It’s a little frustrating. I thought I did pretty well in school. They don’t really want to pay me right now. A lot of internships, a lot of unpaid work, and things like that.”
According to a 2011 population survey by Northeastern University, the Mountain West region was most likely to have young college graduates jobless or underemployed — roughly 3 in 5.
Many are faced with a difficult decision. Take an unpaid internship, or take a job just to pay the bills. Something Bauer-Ray isn’t thrilled about. “It’s kind of ridiculous. Even McDonald’s—which you don’t need a degree for—will pay you… I didn’t go to school to work at McDonald’s.”
But taking an internship may not be that bad of an option according to career coach Don Strankowski. “I think sometimes when a person is in school you think, ‘oh boy I’m almost at the end here, and I’d really like to finally get a position that I’m going to be paid for,’ but sometimes a job market will just not afford that.”
Strankowski says when companies aren’t hiring, internships can be just as beneficial as a paying job. “There’s something to be said for taking a position, getting the experience, learning the skills and then parlaying that into a paid position down the road.”
But some majors are at a disadvantage from the start. Government data shows arts and humanities are struggling, while there’s strong demand for science, and health degrees.
Strankowski says whatever the major is, students need to balance their class schedules with useful electives. “To make yourself more appealing post-graduation, take the classes that are going to be relevant to the type of position you’re going to be pursuing.”
Good advice, but for students like David Bauer-Ray the looming debt from student loans could force him to take whatever job he can get, so he can pay for an education, he might never use.
When asked how much longer he could hold out, he said “I’d imagine about a month…then after that I’m just going to have to work for the first person who just wants to pay me.”
There is some good news for 2012 graduates. A new report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows companies plan to hire 10% more graduates than last year, and median starting salaries are also up roughly 5%.