Justin Felisko/The Student
As the first semester of their senior year gradually comes to a conclusion, the harsh reality is beginning to set in for many members of the Class of 2012. Within six months, seniors will be embarking on the next journey of their lives and attempting to accomplish one of the biggest challenges to date: getting a job in a struggling economy.
For the last four years, members of the Class of 2012 have seen the numbers, facts and other statistics about the frightening job field they will be entering as the United States continues to struggle amidst a dire recession, one being dubbed the “Great Recession.”
Even more intimidating for seniors is the fact that they will be attempting to get full-time jobs while also trying to begin payment for their collegiate debt that has continued to grow over their time at Springfield College.
According to Dailyfinance.com, 2011 college graduates left school with an estimated “average loan burden” of $27,200. Combine that with the fact that unemployment for college graduates 25 and under has risen from 5.4 percent to 9.7 percent between 2007 and 2010, according to the Economic Policy Institute, and many collegiate seniors may be feeling the pressure once their diplomas are in their hands.
Senior Craig Schmitt is worried about trying to get a job once he graduates in May, as well as paying off loans.
“This is probably the worst job market out there,” Schmitt said. “Even though I’m going to be a math teacher, one of the more sought after positions out there, it’s still going to be tough to battle for that position.
“My other worry is working on my master’s,” the math major added. “How am I going to find time for that when I’m trying to teach, coach and pay my bills?”
Senior Lindsay Mulhearn, a rehabilitation and disabilities major, is one of many students with loans waiting for her upon graduation.
“I have taken out loans and at this minute, the economy isn’t concerning, but paying off those loans afterwards is probably when it’s going to get real.”
Despite the unsettling economy, Barbara Kautz, director of the Career Center at Springfield College, believes things may be more optimistic this year than in years past for the Class of 2012.
“Recently, there was a decrease in unemployment and an increase in hiring,” Kautz said. “NACE [National Association of Colleges and Employers] have reported through some of their surveys that the hiring of new college grads is up a little bit. But it varies in the professional fields you’re pursuing and it’s impacted by the flexibility that students have in terms of where it is they would like to relocate.
“There are some opportunities as we look at health care, the education sector, the business sector and some parts of recreation and communications,” she added. “There are new opportunities blossoming and jobs that weren’t available 10 years ago.”
Barbara Kautz, director of the Springfield College Career Center, gives listeners her Top 10 Tips for College Graduates attempting to get a full-time job after college. Produced by Justin Felisko/The Student.
According to NACE’s 2011 Summer Salary Survey, some of the top jobs being offered to college graduates with a bachelor’s degree varied. For business majors, some of the top jobs include sales, consulting and accounting. Teaching and sales jobs are most popular for Humanities/Liberal Arts majors, while teaching, sales, law enforcement and social work highlight careers for Social Science majors.
Yet, it is important for members of the Class of 2012 to keep in mind that it is more than likely that their first job may not be what they truly want. A Rutger’s University John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development study showed that only 27 percent of college graduates considered their first job a “career.”
“You have to understand your dream job is several jobs away and that you [can] look at some of those other kinds of experiences that can be broadening towards your personal and professional development,” Kautz said.
Senior Chelsey Dumond decided to spend this upcoming spring semester in Africa volunteering through Volunteer Adventure Corp., as a way to help broaden herself before going to graduate school for higher education.
Helpful Resources from the Springfield College Career Center
- Resume/Cover Letter Tips
- Interviewing/Networking Tips
- Thinking About Grad School?
- Want to Begin the Job Search?
“It’s going to help me by broadening my horizons,” said the movement and sports studies major. “I can take so much out of this and bring it to other people by going to grad school and pursuing this career. I get to take my experience in one semester in college and spread it to how many of thousands of people? That’s insane.”
Volunteerism is one option for graduating students to pursue next year through programs such as AmeriCorps, City Year and the Peace Corps. Another enticing option for seniors is to go to graduate school, but Kautz warns students not to just enter grad school as a way of delaying their entry into the job market.
“If you use it as a default for trying to enter the job market, it can be kind of a precarious decision,” Kautz said. “[Graduate school] could be a good next step if in fact you have clarified for yourself what you really want to see yourself doing in the future.”
Mulhearn has applied to USC, San Jose State and Dominican University and is very excited for graduate school.
“I’m planning on going into occupational therapy and there is a really high demand for it, so getting a job after graduation isn’t a concern. It’s something I have always wanted to do, and I’m ready to be done [here at SC].”
One encouraging sign for Springfield College students is that 38 percent of students who interned are more likely to get a job after graduation according to NACE. When you combine that with the networking and experience students get from internships, practicums, clinicals, etc., it is evident there is great value for students who partake in these.
“We are very fortunate that Springfield College is so steep in experiential education,” Kautz said. “That is one of the things that give our students an edge when going from student to professional. Not only does the extended experience you get [give you an edge] but the extended networks you build.”
Senior Matt Boilard will be living at home in Bristol, Conn. next semester working as an intern for the Connecticut State Police after interning with the Springfield City Police Department this semester. Boilard believes his internship with the state police will help him gain the necessary skills to have an advantage when applying to the state academy after graduation.
“I decided to take up this endeavor so that I could gain experience in the field,” Boilard said. “They do a lot of talk of whether it is local or state, but until you are really in the environment, you don’t know what it’s like. You have to take advantage of this opportunity when you can.”
With all of the question marks surrounding the economy, the Class of 2012 will have to try and take on the job force head on if they hope to be successful come May.
Kautz believes a lot of it will come down to personal initiative and uniqueness.
“It’s looking at what employers are looking for and trying to find examples of how it is you have actually encountered, dealt [with] and met the challenge of bringing an organization to another place,” she said. “It’s that uniqueness that is something each of us needs to try and identify.”
Justin Felisko may be reached at email@example.com