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Degree of disappointment


A college education no longer guarantees plentiful career opportunities.

Mia Ledet October 3rd, 2012

Attention, college seniors:

This job market sucks.

Beth Adele
credit: Jordan Ensminger

Graduation evokes a mix of emotions for college students: elation because the battle is finally won, and nervousness for what lies ahead. Some graduates already have jobs lined up, while others are chewing their fingernails, wondering how they’ll ever get hired in this economy.

Seniors like Annika Larson, a professional writing major at the University of Oklahoma, are eager to start the job search. “I’m very anxious to begin seeking a job,” she said. “But I definitely wish I’d been a little more ambitious in seeking opportunities that would have prepared me for life and work after college.”

According to career services at the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and OU, demand is highest for engineering, accounting, computer sciences, management information systems and medical majors.

Employers in these fields often begin searching for new employees before they even graduate college. Bette Scott, OU director of career services, said that retiring baby boomers might provide vacancies for graduates.

“May graduates should start the job search process in September because companies find students and begin interviewing them that early,” she said. “If companies don’t meet their hiring needs, they’ll come back in the spring.”

Although some majors are driven toward high-demand careers, the sluggish economy still leaves many graduates struggling. According to a nonprofit organization called Let Freedom Ring, one in every two college grads works as a barista, waiter or office temp — or is unemployed altogether.

More often than not, young adults who have received bachelor’s degrees are barely making ends meet as they work low-wage jobs. Nearly 54 percent of graduates under 25 are either jobless or underemployed, the highest that figure has been in at least 11 years. But career counselors say the economy should give students even more motivation to work hard to bolster their résumés. There are several ways that upcoming graduates can prepare, the most important being multiple internships and to utilize their school’s career services.

In the past, students didn’t have to rely on internships. Today, however, they can be critical in the hiring process, as companies consider them when deciding between candidates. Scott suggested that students have at least two internships, and that they start seeking them as early as freshman year.

“I can’t say enough about the importance of internships. There are only pros, no cons,” said Beth Adele, UCO’s director of career services. “They’re good for the companies and for the students.”

Adele also said that students will benefit from using resources like career services. Students can meet with career counselors and most career services even email students to inform them of internship and job opportunities.

For graduates still searching for jobs, she said that networking is extremely important and that they should be joining professional communities to branch out. Useful groups include Emerging Leaders, Edmond Young Professionals and LinkedIn, an online networking tool.

 
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