Earlier this week, Huffington Post released the article, “Jobless College Graduates Struggle Under Ongoing Recession,” which exploredrecently released unemployment rates and what they mean for future graduates trying to enter the workforce. The U.S. unemployment rate in June rose from 9.1 to 9.2 percent. As discouraging as those numbers were with only 18,000 jobs added compared to the 125,000 jobs needed to be added every month to keep a balance between population growth and available jobs, young college students received even worse news, according to recent reports by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the past month, the unemployment rate for college graduates between 20-and 24-years-old rose from 7.1 percent to 12.1 percent.
One of the students profiled graduated from Wellsley, got her master’s from George Washington, and is still only able to find a nanny job despite many hours of tireless job searching for a job commensurate with her degree(s). Schools like Wellsley and other four year colleges need to find ways to give entering freshmen a clue about what the real world expects of them. The article didn’t mention whether or not this graduate had any internship experience, but if she had she likely would have had better chances of making valuable connections in the white collar job field.
Over thirty years ago, my brother graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia. He struggled in some of the same ways as an English literature major and, after a year, found an entry-level writing job which led to a string of successive jobs and later an MBA from University of Chicago. He cautioned me based on his own experience. Sadly, not that much has changed in thirty years around how we help undergrads prepare for the real world.
My book, MAJORING IN THE REST OF YOUR LIFE: Career Secrets for College Students contains the advice that Craig gave to me. Each chapter profiles a student’s internship experience. Some loved their internship, some learned they weren’t cut out for what they thought they wanted to do. Without such guidance, students graduate from some of the best schools, wracked with high debt and very little information on what they are suited to do and/or what they might bring to the table in terms of their knowledge and skills.
Some of the best students and Ivy League graduates are struggling in this economy as much as some of the least prepared students. This struggle is needless and can be prevented if the schools were to step up their responsibility for job placement as well as graduation. With the high price tag of a college tuition, which has outpaced inflation, students and parents should demand greater results from colleges for this deliverable. Books like MAJORING should be required reading for incoming freshmen.
Even students who get internships, have job experience, and seem promising can put themselves at-risk for hire through financial debt, unpaid tickets, and lazy internship practices which prevent them from getting job offers. Some students expect social promotion in the world of work as they may have experienced it in high school. In this global economy, students around the world are hard-working, smart, committed, innovative, resourceful, and know how to bring real value to a company. If American students want to stay competitive both at home and abroad, they need to know what the stakes are before they start college, they need to have a plan to learn to “do” as well as learn to learn, they need to make valuable career connections, and they need to be sterling in their professional behavior so that their value to an organization is obvious.
“Jobless College Graduates Struggle Under Ongoing Recession” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/08/college-graduates-jobs-unemployment_n_893495.html?ir=Education