Students, get involved

Tom Pearson
Collegian File Photo

In today’s tough economy, getting a college degree is a necessity if you would like to have any hope of attaining what most would consider a respectable, well-paying job.

But, even with a degree, many recent graduates are still struggling to find a job. Getting a job after graduation is more than just having a degree — it is about having that extra oomph that makes the employer think they need you, rather than you needing them.

A record 19.7 million students are expected to attend college this semester, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This is an increase of about 4.4 million since fall 2000, when only 15.3 million students were expected to attend college. This increase in those attending college will undoubtedly cause an increase in the number of college graduates, raising the bar in the job market.

These statistics, coupled with the fact the unemployment rate is currently the fifth highest it has been since 1948, indicate the job market is becoming more competitive as the number of graduates increases and the number of available jobs decreases.

With a record-breaking number of graduates each year, employers are searching for a way to differentiate one applicant from another, and these days a college degree is not enough to differentiate one candidate from the next.

For the first time in history, the unemployment rate for those with a four-year degree has risen past the 4 percent mark. Standing out from the crowd is an absolute necessity.

A big mistake many college students make is thinking that simply attending college is a ticket to a job upon graduation. Often, many students graduate with little to no experience.

Simply put, in today’s society employers do not want to teach new employees everything after they hire them. They want people with experience who know what to do and can be thrown in the “fire” right away.

The best way to gain the kind of experience employers are seeking is through internships. Internships put students in a hands-on environment where they do many of the tasks  — albeit, the easier ones — they would be doing as a professional. Another great thing about internships is the opportunity they give a potential employer to examine your work ethic, abilities and you in general. Internships help expand your network.

We’ve all heard the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and in today’s society that could not be more true. Employers do not want to go blind into the hiring process. They want to hire somebody they respect, know and feel comfortable with. Therefore, networking is paramount to getting a job. A smart way to begin networking is to join clubs related to your major. From there you can network with other people with the same ambitions, as well as professionals in the field the club may bring in. Attending local and national conferences and functions is also a great way to network.

All these things can help boost your resume, which ultimately is the most important thing. A resume (and cover letter) are usually your first impression with a potential employer. These documents tell them if you are worth their time and if you deserve an interview. A good resume should be one page and a good cover letter should show interest in the specific company, expand on relevant work experience from the resume and tell the employer a little bit about the prospective employee. The career center is a wonderful resource for students to determine the strength of their resume and cover letter.

Getting involved is the most important thing to do while in college. A degree is not enough. Why be just another car in the garage of prospective employees when you can be the only luxury car?

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Letters to the Editor, 11-16-11