Graduating students face employment issues, should utilize resources

As graduation quickly approaches, students not only have the opportunity to finally achieve the job of their dreams, but they also risk coming face-to-face with the trap of unemployment and underemployment.

Unemployment might already be a frequent topic of concern across the country for many people, but recent college graduates have become one of the leading audiences for this predicament, according to a study from the website Journalist’s Resource. Even if these students are fortunate enough to obtain a job following graduation, not being paid or recognized enough for all of their hard work can still cause them to feel underemployed while at that job, according to the study.

Career Center Director Jeffrey Jackson said he and other representatives of the center aim to find multiple ways of getting students in front of employers, not just when they are about to graduate, but all throughout their college career in order to gain experience.

“Our goal is to get in touch with students sooner,” Jackson said. “We always look for another opportunity for students to get in front of employers.”

One recent opportunity the Career Center offered to get students in front of these employers was an expo job and internship fair hosted Feb. 11 at the Perry Field House.

Sophomore Jane Verdi was one of 854 students that attended.

“I’m only a sophomore,” said Verdi. “But it was good practice to go and see all of the different options.”

The job fair attendance rate was a major decrease from 1,100 attendees at the last job fair offered in the fall. In addition, 551 companies were present at the most recent fair, which means that 46 percent of people alone were employers.

In addition, Jackson said there are 4,000 students in the senior class, which means 21 percent of the senior class used the opportunity.

Some students might think that those opportunities are “not important right now,” Jackson said. “But now it’s important in March because I’m graduating in May.”

The Career Center is still working to make more opportunities available for students. Students of all years in school are highly encouraged to attend, not just the senior class.

“I always ask myself, ‘how can I get students to take advantage of these resources?’” said Jackson. “We want to get students to start thinking, ‘I don’t want to be the one that’s unemployed.’”

Another resource at the Career Center that students have used is the resume-builder service, a drop-in service offered by the Career Center.

Sophomore Marygael Britton used the service to update her resume and found it to be “very helpful.”

She also said she had plans to use the Career Center during her senior year when she is looking for a job or internship.

“I will use the Career Center when I am a senior if I need any help with finding resources for careers and internships,” Britton said.

Some upcoming events that students can anticipate with employers at the University are the summer job fair on Tuesday, March 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Union Ballroom and a LinkedIn seminar intended to educate students on professional networking skills and help them meet more employers. The LinkedIn seminar will take place Thursday, April 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 120 Olscamp Hall.

Criminal justice majors can also look forward to a “Careers in the FBI” event where they can meet employers and learn about careers in the FBI on Thursday, March 6 in room 207 of the Union from 11 a.m. until noon. Both of these events are open to students of all ages and majors.

The more experience that students have all throughout college and especially upon graduating and tapping into the job market, the more likely they are to impress employers and not encounter unemployment.

Jackson also encourages combining that experience with their degree as a “negotiating tool” when interacting with companies and prospective employers.

In fact, more than 70 percent of employers prefer to hire students with internships and co-op experiences, according to the National Association of College and Employers, and then it is easier for these students to transition into an actual job with that company from there.

Unemployment and underemployment may be high risks for prospective graduates, but if students take advantage of as many opportunities as they can to make a positive impression on companies, then this risk might become smaller for them, according to the study.

Rates of unemployment and underemployment drop once graduates reach their late twenties, according to Journalist’s Resource.

Jackson noted that employers are looking for students who are analytical, able to work in a team environment and have strong communication skills. If these students can obtain a job after graduation, then continuing to exercise these values can hopefully promote them away from the underemployment spectrum.

“Whatever your values are, that’s what’s going to get you up in the morning,” said Jackson. “What’s important will make you move.”