Straight Outta College

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unknownWell, maybe you are coming down from the summer party of a lifetime now that you have graduated from college. But, the holidays are upon us, and you still may be looking for that perfect job with diploma in hand! You may have been lucky to receive a scholarship to school. Or maybe, you were the beneficiary of a trust fund and you don’t need to worry about looming school debt like most of your classmates. But if you graduated in June, and you are still looking for a job in October, that diploma may not go as far as you or your parents thought.

Does a Barista job at Starbucks look appealing? Weighing the benefits of getting benefits over a higher hourly salary? Don’t worry you are not alone. Your college education may have provided the foundation for your ability to analyze, evaluate and communicate your ideas, but it may not have been the guarantee your parents were banking on when it came to immediate and sustainable employment. Don’t worry you are still not alone. Many recent college grads are struggling with job employment when they graduate. Sadly it does not matter whether you graduated from an Ivy League school or a local community college, a job is a job no matter what qualifications you can boast on a resume. These days it’s not any easier if you come from a top-tier college or university, the struggle to find a job straight outta college remains tough.

Setting expectations and career tracking before you graduate is something more colleges and universities need to spend more time and attention focusing on with their students. I know many who graduated and after two years in the job market, continue to re-evaluate their options, often considering higher education or an entirely different career track to open up more opportunities. The idea that you have to “work your way up the ladder” is not an appealing option to this generation of emerging talent. The notion that you have to put in your proverbial “dues” in order to get ahead is not something students focused on when they were getting ready to graduate and hit the job market.

Evaluating your options before you graduate does not mean you need to start focusing on your choices in your junior or senior year. It means you have got to figure it out your first week on campus otherwise, the next four years will be wasted on taking courses that may or may not help your chances at a job once you graduate. Getting clear on goals early on does not mean you can’t make changes along the way.   In fact, it’s strongly encouraged to change your career track before you graduate and take advantage of internal career counseling resources. Taking informational interviews while you are still in school helps you figure out if you are on the right road or not. Shadowing someone already in the job you think you might like might also helps you gain perspective in choosing the right career before you graduate.

Internships offer hands on experience in trying out and testing a field you may be interested in exploring before you earn that diploma. Setting expectations in terms of number of jobs in the field you are interested in and understanding the hiring salary helps you to evaluate your options and prepares you for what lay ahead. Forewarned is forearmed as someone once said and just because you have your diploma, does not mean you are automatically guaranteed a job. There is a little thing called “working for it” that comes to play with or without that degree. Remember, your career is your choice not your parents. Understanding what a job pays, what career options are available after school and beyond helps you figure out if you are willing to work for it and stick it out or need a higher degree in order to get ahead. It’s one thing to be top of your class, but when it comes to getting a job, it’s not just your SAT scores that will land you a job, it’s how you work all of your experience into the mix, education and otherwise.

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