While being handed your diploma may signal achievement, many recent grads are realizing the rolled document simply is not enough.
Shara Foreman, communication major, graduated in December and is among the recent grads wondering what a diploma offers post-graduation.
“I’m 34 years old, I just graduated with a BA in communication and I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life right now,” Foreman said. “Before I decided to go back to school and finish my degree, all I ever looked for was restaurant work. Then when I turned 31, I decided that I can’t do that my whole life. I needed to finish my degree and start a professional career.”
Foreman said she’s worried about finding a job due to lack of experience. Although she completed an internship, it doesn’t appear to be enough.
“When I look online they ask for a bachelor’s degree, but then they request two years or five years experience and I just don’t have that and that’s what makes me nervous,” Foreman said.
While some graduates come out of school with little or no experience in their fields, others reenter the work force armed with experience and a new degree. Greg Gorgon graduated from Boise State in May of 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration. Gordon landed a job in three months, but had begun the search before graduation. He started sending out resumes and joined several job placement websites.
“The first step was updating the resume and posting it online,” Gordon said. “Then I just started downloading as much information as I could on interviewing skills and keeping my eyes open for various jobs that were available. I think the most important thing was networking, staying in touch with various professionals and friends.”
Gordon stated that it was his 17 years of experience that helped him get his job, but explained the differences he saw after adding his degree.
“Prior to updating my resume with my degree on it, I very rarely got any callbacks from jobsites that I had applied to,” Gordon said. “But after I updated it, I got way more phone calls than I got before. Because the job market is so flooded with applicants, I think employers can be picky in who they interview and who they hire.”
Since Gordon had such good fortune in today’s competitive job market, he offered some advice for new graduates.
“You have to have a clear direction of where you want to go,” Gordon said. “You can’t just be looking for a job, because there are jobs everywhere. I think that we’re all looking for what we enjoy, a career. And a career is different from a job. A career is something that we’ve chosen and we’re going to dedicate our life to. As we’re going through school we need to have a plan and you need to know what you’re going to do to implement that plan, which takes a lot of preparation.”
Career Center Director, Debbie Kaylor, listed the services the Career Center has available for new graduates.
“We help with their job search,” Kaylor said. “That could be helping them develop targeted resumes, or cover letters, or helping them practice their interviewing skills. The big one that we do offer, that more and more people are taking advantage of, is the role that networking plays in the job search efforts, networking either in person or developing a really strong LinkedIn account.”
Career Center services are free for recent graduates until next graduation date, after that there is a small fee. For more information about the Career Center.