No matter how much experience you may have gathered over the past few years, graduating college and entering the real world is a daunting task for everyone. Of course, there’s the familiar broke, unemployed college graduate stereotype. Cue the jokes about living in your parent’s basement until you’re 30 or needing 10 years of experience for an entry-level job. However, things are not as grim as they may seem. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ January 2017 report, only 2.5 percent of college graduates 25 or older with at least a bachelor’s degree are unemployed.
That may be uplifting news, but it doesn’t mean that you can coast through your classes by doing the bare minimum and expect to walk right into your dream job. College is a time to learn about yourself and try new things — it’s a few years of freedom before you’re moving back into your childhood room for the foreseeable future. Although a social life is important, you can’t forget the main reasons you’re here: to further your education and ready yourself for the real world. I know that finding a balance between work and play is difficult and, at times, seemingly unfair, but your life after graduation and future career should always be given precedence.
The idea of internships, student teaching and co-ops can be intimidating, whether you’re nervous about working in a professional environment for the first time or you’re simply scared you won’t be able to find such an opportunity. While I can’t personally speak to student teaching and co-ops, I do know that internships aren’t too hard to come by. Almost every job search website, such as indeed.com or monster.com, have an array of openings. Further, academic advisors at Rider are more than willing to help and reach out to their own connections. Internships, co-ops and student teaching are essential to get your foot in the door in your desired industry. Beyond forging connections, they will also give you a taste of what your life in a couple years will be like. It’s better to find out you’re not actually passionate or interested in your major before you show up to work on the first day.
Involvement doesn’t have to be limited to just office or classroom experiences. A lot of students live on campus and don’t have cars readily available, so getting that hands-on practice is more challenging. Luckily, there is an abundance of student organizations on campus that can help. If you’re looking to be a journalist, there’s the student newspaper. If you want to get into finance, organizations are always looking for treasurers. If you want management experience, apply to work for a club on campus or one of Rider’s Division I sports teams. The list could keep going, but the bottom line is that the options are there. Getting involved on campus will also ease the demand and stress that can come along with internships, while opening a bigger window for your social life.
Even though it’s important to have fun and get the full college experience, it’s just as crucial to work hard, establish connections and gain experience in your desired field. Job hunting is scary, but it can be easier if you go in with the confidence and optimism knowing that you’re prepared for it. Dreams don’t work unless you do.
Senior history major