Graduating from college is collectively one of the most joyful, tearful and stressful moments in your life. Surrounded by family and friends, you symbolically and literally take your first steps into your future wearing one of the most unflattering outfits you will (hopefully) ever wear. With smiles and tears you proudly accept your diploma from a member of the administration of your institution that you have more than likely never met, walk across the stage, and let out the breath that you were holding, hoping and praying that you would not trip. The stressing over final exams and senior thesis is done, the planning for graduation parties and the collection of graduation presents and money is over, and you are finally finished.
Unfortunately, for the majority of college graduates these days, “finished” is all too apt a definition. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, which is a service of the United States Department of Education, nearly two million people will graduate from colleges and universities over the next year (Source). With this many educated people entering a job market that is already fluctuating, finding a job may overtake your final exams as the most difficult thing you will ever do.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics have set the national unemployment rate at 6.6% for the month of January (Source). With a population of nearly 314 million people and many jobs being outsourced for cheap labor in other countries, the degree that many of us nearly killed ourselves attempting to finish may not be worth as much as we thought.
In times past, obtaining a college degree basically guaranteed the holder a well-paying job that they could apply their learning to. In these times, however, very few people actually have a job in the field that their degree is in. Keeping in mind that the high rate of graduates in the coming months, coupled with the unemployment rate and growing United States population, it is best to remember a few things when studying for finals and planning your graduation blow-out.
Step Outside The Degree
Try not to simply apply for jobs in your degree field. If you hold a highly specialized degree like biochemistry, you may find it easier to get a job, but you are still not limited to a lab. Open your mind to the possibility that there may not be a place for you there, and look at pharmacies or the classroom.
Do Not Wait
It is highly important that you do not hesitate in applying for jobs. Have your resume and references ready before you even fill out your order for your cap and gown. Ask some of your more congenial professors to write you a letter of recommendation that highlights your strengths. Visit your school’s employment office and ask if they will assist you with your resume or cover letter (Note: While you may not know where it is, even the majority of smaller universities have career specialists whose jobs are to focus solely on helping their institutions graduates find employment. Take advantage of this.).
Try Not to Feel Discouraged
Great things do not always happen overnight. Remember this when you fill out hundreds of applications and begin to feel like you may never find a job. Your parents may tell you all kinds of platitudes about perseverance and holding out hope that will annoy you, but the fact of the matter is, they’re right. Do not give up when you get discouraged about the sheer amount of resumes you have printed or interviews that may not have gone so well. Ultimately, you can always remember that you have a degree, and you are already one-step ahead of millions of other people that may be seeking the same job that you are. Keep trying until you find the job you want.
The job market may not be the best right now, but it is better than it has been in nearly five years. The discovery of new careers is at the best pace that it has ever been, as well. Many times, the job you will have was not even invented when you started college, and you have to adapt your wants and needs to accommodate the advances in technology, education and society. So, college graduates, plan your parties, ace your finals, and wear the ridiculously hideous cap and gown that never fits anyone the way it should, because even though it may be difficult to find, the job you want is out there, you just have to look for it.