I got a degree…now what?

Have you finished your college education?  This has become an all important question in today’s society.  As the job market remains scarce, many are turning back to school to get a leg up on the competition.  However, how do you get a leg up on the competition when they are sitting in the same classroom as you?  This is a reality that many are currently facing.  The more people that return to school, the more difficult it is for anyone to stand out from the pack.  Got a bachelor’s degree?  So does Maggie.  Got experience interning at a law firm?  So does Mark.  The grim reality is that it has become a literal fight for jobs.  Just 10 years ago a college degree meant a near certain ability to find a job in a desired field.  Yet with growing numbers, college graduates are seeing that maybe that nursing job is now located in Idaho instead of Hawaii.

Enrollment at UH Manoa has increased drastically since the economic crash of 2008.

We always hear about how someone with a college degree will out earn someone without a college degree.  That is a great commercial but what fields are actively hiring right now?  How many of those companies have openings and are willing to train new graduates?  New graduates are applying for jobs against college dropouts with a few years of experience in a similar career.  Look at it from a employers vantage point:  Your company deals with payroll operations for various companies.  You are looking to add on an additional accountant.  Sam is a recent finance major graduate with only 6months of experience working for a small law firm.  Jake has no degree, however he has worked for various accounting firms over the last 4 years and is heading back to school for more accounting classes.  Both men are 25 years of age.  Hiring either man will cost a salary of $45,000/yr.  Jake is able to start right away for you.  Sam on the other hand will need a few weeks or more of training for the position.  This training will force you to use an additional worker for the training process and will mean one fewer person to carry the load around the office.  Obviously the man that could do more help over a longer time is Sam.  He has been educated in the long term affairs of the business.  However, Jake will be more valuable and cheaper than Sam for maybe a couple years.  In this economy do what you can to stay alive for tomorrow!

Where does this leave someone about to graduate or still in school?  Well a few things are clear right now about this economy.  Job growth will be limited for the next couple years or maybe even more.  Don’t expect a sudden boom in jobs over the next few years.  Another point is that the more working experience you have, the better suited you are to step in right away and contribute.  This is a tough one for people working on majors that require a large amount of school related activities.  Internships and volunteering could help in closing the gap.  Also, don’t forget to try and find entry level jobs while still in school.  Looking to become a broadcaster in the future?  Why not work in the promotions department for a local radio or television station.  Working experience will help to enhance the knowledge gained through schooling.  The important thing is having the ability to practice what you have been taught.

Graduating from college is the first step in a long journey!

Is this a plea to stay out of school?  Of course not.  The great thing about getting a college education is the many avenues that it tends to open for an individual.  Maybe you can’t get that job straight out of school.  Maybe a year down the road that old classmate of yours lets you know of an opening at his job.  That college education will come in handy when you are trying to show your knowledge of the field when you’ve been working at Starbucks for the last 6 months!


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