How to Avoid College Grad Unemployment | 02.14.12

Posted in financial aid tips, News By Student Loan Network Staff

According to the Gallup poll, the U.S. unemployment rate sits at 8.6% with underemployment (those working part-time but who want to work full-time) at 18.1%. Are you a recent or soon-to-be college graduate? Do you worry about unemployment and whether your skills will land you the job you’ve hoped for (or the job you trained for)? Are you or your friends blaming the economy for the fact that the job market looks scarce for recent grads?

Recent bachelor’s undergraduates have an unemployment rate of 8.9% while those with only a high school diploma have a unemployment rate of 22.9%, and high school dropouts are at 31.5%, so a degree is some comfort in this market. What are you going to do about it?

Well you could chalk it up to the economy, the fact that big businesses made bad decisions before you even graduated, and now you can’t get a job. OR you could show potential employers that you are action-oriented, and that you not only want to work, but you want to find your passion through said work. Sounds nice right? But how do you do that?

There are several different paths one could take to evaluate their potential job prospects while still in, or just out of school.

  • Internships. Most colleges and universities can help place you in a major or career-related internship starting in your freshman year. This can be done through the school’s career center, through your department, an academic advisor or teacher you admire, even through an extra-curricular activity. Internships are a great way for paid or unpaid career experience in a company or career type you are thinking about entering, or you are just interested in seeing if you want to pursue it. You could try non-profits one year, private sector the next. Small start up, large corporation. The possibilities and experiences are endless. And often, if you do well, and keep in touch with your employer, they may have a placement for you at graduation or shortly thereafter. You can apply for internships even after college. There are paid internships available and you can still use your college or university’s career center to help you find internships, search for jobs, update your resume and even prep you for an interview.
  • Job Placement/Co-op. This option is sometimes school specific. Northeastern has a 5-year program through their business school where you get a BS or BA and a year of working experience. It’s basically a class that is 1-3 credits earned while completing a paid internship. Or you can submit your resume to your career center, and ask them to help you place them with a local job. There are also work-study programs on campus that may place you in a department or career-related job right on campus. Contact your school’s career center for success stories related to co-ops (how many people participate in the program, and then end up with a job with the company they were placed in as part of their co-op or paid internship with.
  • Apply while in school. Many companies, especially larger companies, offer new graduate programs that will train you for a career in management, media, technology, etc. while you work. This allows you to get a broad training in your potential field of expertise while getting ‘on the job training’. These programs are fairly competitive, and require applications and resume in the middle of your senior year or just after you’ve graduated and only accept applications once or twice a year. These companies often have on-campus representatives doing information sessions and holding interviews for potential candidates to allow you to get a better sense of the company and the career you may be interested in (and often how it relates to certain majors, and/or specific transferrable skills).
  • Go back to graduate school. While it may sound daunting to accumulate more debt by going back to school, if you are passionate about a subject, want to teach within the ivory towers or want to get advanced skills in business, law, dentistry or medicine, an additional degree is the right choice for you. The overall unemployment rate for people with graduate degrees is just 3%. This highlights that while higher education is an investment, in all probability, it is one that will pay off in the long run.

Apply, apply and apply some more. While it might seem tiresome and endless, finding a job that turns into a career is priceless. Take the time to learn what skills you possess, what skills you are interested in utilizing and where you see yourself in the future. Sometimes the path least traveled leads you to your dream job. Check your resume and understand how skills you may have gained as a barista or as a substitute teacher can be transferrable to the career you’ve had your eyes on.

Don’t give up, truck on!

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