Studies show preparation before graduation is key
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 17:05
Hold the champagne: Before they start planning their graduation parties, next year’s seniors should be thinking ahead to what life after college, and in a tough job market, could mean for them. Several new studies show that recent graduates haven’t fared so well in the current harsh economic climate.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a study analyzing young adult employment during the recession between December 2007 and June 2009. According to the study, the percentage of employed men aged 24 or 25 fell from 84.5 percent to 79.9 percent during the recession. For women in the same age group, the percentage employed fell from 77.7 percent to 73.5 percent.
Lynn Hansen, the executive director of Career Services at UCF, recommends that college students need to start preparing earlier if they want to land jobs out of college.
“They put themselves at a disadvantage if they don’t start preparing early enough. The launch into a career doesn’t happen during the senior year,” Hansen said. “Students, from the time they get to university, would benefit from a career action plan. They need a step-by-step list of things to do when graduation comes so they can be as prepared and competitive as they can be.”
For some students, there’s still a lot of work to do before graduation. Senior interdisciplinary studies major Alexa Riccardi graduates in December and hopes to find a job as an event planner with a corporate or nonprofit entity.
“It’s a little bit intimidating, because we’re always hearing about how the job market is not good right now,” Riccardi said. “But I feel like UCF has given me the right knowledge and tools to be able to market myself to potential employers. I’m more excited than anything else to get out there.”
Riccardi has a paid internship with Disney waiting for her in the fall, which is an opportunity she says is vital for next year’s graduates to take into consideration.
“Internships help you figure [out] what you like to do and what you don’t like to do. … If you don’t have [one] now, get one,” she said.
She also recommends networking early, primarily by developing relationships with professors.
“A lot of them are willing to help outside of the classroom,” Riccardi said.
Hansen thinks that students should take advantage of the opportunities offered by Career Services, such as fake interviews and résumé and cover letter workshops, to help them prepare for a potential employer. Even with the decline of job opportunities, Hansen notes that “we’ve had an increase in on-campus recruiting. Companies are coming back to campus.”
Many graduates feel that internships can not only greatly help your chances of getting a job but also prepare you for the workforce as well. In a recent study by Rutgers University that sampled students who graduated between 2006 and 2011, 65 percent of students who held internships said that their college experience helped them get a job, while only 44 percent of students without internships agreed. In addition, 69 percent of students with internships said that college prepared them to be successful in their jobs, but 57 percent of students without internships agreed.
For Kristen Saumell, a senior marketing major who graduates next May, it’s important to her to make her résumé stand out from the crowd. That not only means completing internships, but completing internships with diverse experience.
“Work in a type of agency you weren’t thinking of getting involved in,” Saumell said.
By the time Saumell graduates, she will have three different internships in three very different marketing industries.
“As long as I’m well-rounded and my work ethic shows, I have a good shot at getting a job I want. … There might not be jobs immediately available, but if people look in the right places, they can find stuff.”