By Jessica Maiuro
Imagine being at the top of your class — above all the rest — and graduating with honors. It seems you’re on the right track for a successful career, and then BAM! The horrible economy strikes and now you’re in the same pool with the thousands of other college graduates searching for a job and a way to turn that diploma into money.
Employment for those with a Ph.D or bachelor’s degree is at an all-time low, which forces those who hold a college diploma to put it on the shelf and brush up on their blue-collar working skills.
Joyce Tyler, director of Career Services, is well aware of the pressures facing college graduates.
“The economy has affected students, but there is an upside for those coming out of college,” Tyler said. “White-collar employees at the top of their companies are being let go. Those who have just graduated can’t go in and demand that high pay. When the economy turns around, which it will, students won’t demand that high of pay, so places will look for them.”
Despite career fields that are doing major downsizing in order to survive the current economic crisis, students need to keep in mind that there are still some jobs that haven’t succumbed to the crumbling economy.
“Of course, careers in finance and retail have seen downsizing, but, in turn, there are career fields that are in demand,” Tyler said. “The desire for health care employees is up and most careers in science are increasing.”
Students who use Career Services can learn about careers they might have never even thought about before.
“There are good federal government jobs that students haven’t tapped into, and we try to make students aware of those,” said Tyler.
Tyler stresses the importance of starting the job search early.
“When most students are about to graduate, they think they can start applying for jobs in May and within two months, they’ll land one,” she said. “Seniors need to start applying in the fall, handing out résumés and [setting up] interviews.”
It might sound like a no-brainer, but nothing is more important than an impressive résumé that really gives employers an accurate sense of what applicants are like, she said.
Alumni also feel the effect of our country’s economy, and many have returned to their alma mater, whether it is to brush up on their job-hunting skills or to catch up with old friends.
“One alum came back and he now owns a very big business,” Tyler said. “He shared the story of his success with his former classmates. Many came back for networking, some changing their careers, and it turned into one big reunion. It was a hit.”
Most students don’t know about the range of career services at their disposal. All students need to become aware of this, and take full advantage of it.
“I have used career services before, and it was very helpful,” said senior Rajesh Yerramilli. “I’m looking into graduate school, so I will continue to use it and take advantage of all they have to offer.”
Unlike most of the state schools, Rider, being a private university, provides career services for free — a fact that most students and alumni may not even know.
“I’m surprised,” said Yerramilli. “I didn’t know that a majority of other colleges and universities don’t offer their career services for a lifetime and for free like Rider. It’s now another reason why I’m glad I picked this university.”
High GPA or not, employers want to see what skills applicants have. Although it may sound cliché, employers hire well-rounded people.
“Although I’m a senior and I’ve held two internships, I’ve never used Career Services,” said senior Jetty Hartsky. “But I have received information about their services. I do think it helps when trying to figure out what occupation suits your personality and skill set. It’s also a great place to get connected to future job opportunities.”
Tyler believes that one of the most important things to convey in a résumé is involvement.
There was a study conducted by Career Services, and it found that students with a B-average or above had no common thread about their successes. On the other hand, it found that average students are the hidden gems: they’ve been working since high school and they volunteer in their community. Tyler stressed that it’s important to show all of this on a résumé. After all, just one jam-packed piece of paper has to convince an employer whether or not you are the right person for the job.
“Show that you started something, and you finished it,” she said. “If you’ve been playing a sport for over 10 years, write it down. Never underestimate what it is you have to offer.”
Rider’s Career Services is located on the second floor of the Bart Luedeke Center.