By Emily Eiermann
As fresh-faced seniors step out in front of an audience of loved ones to receive their diplomas in May, they may feel anxious about their transition into the “real world.” Studies suggest that this fear may not be unwarranted.
The rate of unemployment for recent college graduates aged 24 and under has been fluctuating over the past few months, resting at 7.7 percent as of November 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal. Though the percentage is smaller than the unemployment rate of 16.7 percent for all Americans in that age group, it is significant enough to worry some people.
“I’m kind of anxious about graduating and finding a job with the economy being the way it is,” senior multimedia and web design major Jackie Rodman said. “The field I want to work in is pretty competitive and I’m afraid it’s going to take a while to get the type of job I want.”
Rider is on par with these numbers. In a survey conducted by Career Services and the Associate President’s office, 10 percent of the 2008-2010 graduates who responded are unemployed and seeking employment. Those who went on to graduate school make up 5 percent of the responses, while 14 percent are employed part-time, leaving 71 percent with full-time jobs. Only 15 percent of alumni participated in the survey.
However, there are ways to prepare for the job search before graduation. Joyce Tyler, director of Career Services, said that the key is to take advantage of the opportunities Rider students are given.
“Begin the search now for employment, before you leave,” Tyler said. “I have, year after year, gotten phone calls from parents saying ‘my son or daughter is not working. Why aren’t they working? They went to Rider — they should have a job by now.’ And we found out that in 9 out of 10 cases, that person didn’t use our services. So make sure you take advantage of Career Services before you leave.”
The office of Career Services offers a variety of possibilities to get a head start on job searches. Tyler encouraged students to have their résumés reviewed, take part in mock interviews and participate in events on and around campus, such as the Career Fair on March 29.
There are also networking events that take place throughout the semester, which can provide job opportunities that may otherwise be unavailable. According to the survey, networking accounted for over 35 percent of the full-time jobs graduates had secured, beaten only by online website listings.
“Rider can prepare you to a certain extent, but a lot of the job search involves networking and, unfortunately, it’s sometimes really more about who you know than what you can do,” Kaitlin MacRae, a 2011 journalism graduate said. “I found work about three months after I graduated in May and I worked for maybe six before I got laid off. I think Rider does do a good job of preparing its students, but the job market is so fickle and that can become overwhelming.”
Dr. Larry Newman, dean of the College of Business Administration, also encouraged networking.
“I strongly urge our students to take advantage of what we have to offer at Rider,” he said. “Participation in student clubs and honor societies provide our students with the opportunity to build leadership skills while networking with members of the industry.”
Being able to communicate well, particularly during an interview, is also an important part of the job search, according to Tyler.
“Most people go into an interview assuming they know what to expect,” she said. “We have material [at Career Services] that can give students questions to anticipate, and we can also critique the content of their answers. That way students can make their mistakes with us, rather than the people who matter.”
Apart from Career Services, freshmen who haven’t declared a major have a unique opportunity to explore their career options through the General Liberal Arts and Sciences Studies (GLASS) program. Through this program, first-year students are able to attend seminars that focus on career planning, visit upper-level courses in a variety of fields through the Classroom Visitation Program (CVP) and experience a broad range of classes in the department through their core curriculum.
Dean of Students Anthony Campbell emphasized starting to prepare for life after graduation early.
“Career planning for [Rider] actually starts freshman year with the learning communities and programs we have, and builds up through your curriculum to prepare you to do that job search, which is why we tell people to get involved,” he said. “That’s the message I’d like to get across to our students. There are lots of opportunities out there. Prepare yourself from the beginning with on-campus involvement, then do internships, co-ops, summer jobs — all those things help prepare you to enter the world of work.”
While the recession the United States is undergoing can make the search for a job after graduation difficult, preparation and planning might help ease the transition.