Although unemployment rates for people with a college degree seem to be pretty low, some college students have a difficult time finding employment post-graduation.
“After graduating, I hadn’t gotten a job in my field, nor did I set up plans to immediately go back to school so I was nervous,” Victoria Bond, a 2017 graduate from Tuskegee University, said.”I started looking for jobs in my field and it proved to be a struggle. All of the jobs in my field seemed to require certifications or higher degrees than I had achieved.”
Bond was a veterinary medicine major at her college. STEM majors (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) historically have higher employment rates and have starting salaries at about $15,500 more than non-STEM majors.
Yet, some students in the STEM field still struggle finding postgraduate employment.
According to a study done by Glassdoor, a large portion of the employment rates for college graduates depends on gender. Even for a STEM major, who is more likely to get hired and have a larger salary, men are likely to get a better and higher paying job more directed to their field.
“I eventually found a job under the umbrella of healthcare, which is not far off from my target field of veterinary medicine,” Bond said. “While the job I currently work is not directly related to my field, it will enhance my portfolio and is giving me a boost towards gaining access to higher education within my field of study.”
Megan Jursch, a career peer intern at the Career Services Network at Michigan State, explained there are ways that students can prepare for postgraduate job opportunities while they are still in school.
“Students should make sure that they are meeting with their advisors and getting internships, and getting that professional experience being involved in research opportunities,” Jursch said. “I would say it’s important to research some type of career exploration while you’re still in school, so you know what you want to do before you graduate.”
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers look for candidates who display leadership qualities and who are able to work well on a team when they are searching for new college graduates. Internships definitely help a candidate stand out.
A paid internship is also likely to turn into a career, with the NACE reporting that 60 percent of paid internships turn into a job offer once a student graduates.
Dan Schawbel, author of “Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future”, explained that not only are internships important, but obtaining internships with wide brand recognition are important because they help boost a resume, and help with learning new information that cannot be obtained in a classroom.
“Some of the knowledge I apply in my current position comes from my undergraduate degree,” Bond said. “However a lot of the information is new for me and the position has caused me to open my mind to many other career paths.”
NACE reports also show that factors such as a student’s major, extracurricular activities and GPA have a high influence in whether or not a student will be hired after they graduate.
Jursch also explained the importance of knowing what jobs are available in a specific field before a student graduates.
“For seniors, I would say it’s probably important to start job searching before you graduate because you don’t want to be stuck without a job when you’re out of school,” she said.
Schawbel added that a student should start researching jobs in the field that they are interested in as early as their senior year in high school, and create a LinkedIn profile to be easily accessible to employers.
In his study, Schawbel concluded that most college students are not taking advantage of personal branding opportunities such as LinkedIn, as well as business cards, personal domain names and professional blogs.
The class of 2018 seems to have a fair chance in the working world. They are entering in the strongest job market in the decade, with about 80 percent of companies planning to hire college graduates this year based on a survey done by CareerBuilder.