Are you moving home after graduation? If so, you’re not alone. According to The Huffington Post, 85 percent of college students moved back in with their parents upon finishing school in 2011. It’s not a stretch to say that the average college degree doesn’t go as far as it once used to. Unfortunately, greater numbers of graduating students are beginning to see that going to college is hardly any guarantee of employment. In the U.S., 22.4 percent of 2009 college graduates under the age of 25 are currently not working, according to Andrew Sum of Northeastern University. This age group has not witnessed unemployment this high since 1970.
Irrespective of the difficulties that large numbers of recent college graduates are dealing with finding jobs in the current economy, many still have tens of thousands of dollars worth of loans accumulated during their college years, which they must pay off with interest. Consequently, the pressure to pay the monthly bills forces many graduates into working in areas such as food services and data entry, which do not require a college degree at all. This phenomenon may have quite severe long-term effects upon the likelihood of recent graduates later being hired for the kinds of jobs that are closely related to their college major(s). There is also a high risk of college students’ major-related job skills falling into disuse and disrepair at their irrelevant, short-term jobs. Employers are likely to view these students with skepticism and negativity, as a result of their having gone through multiple part-time jobs unrelated to their professional field of training. Rutgers University labor economist Carl Van Horn’s refrain that “[students’] salary history follows them wherever they go” is a major concern to the aforementioned graduates because it may largely doom them to a working life of relatively low wages and little potential for upward mobility.
Even the 56 percent of college graduates who are fortunate enough to be working in jobs that require a college degree have seen their median starting salaries dip to $27,000 from $30,000 several years earlier, according to a study done by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.
The intense competitive challenge of the current entry-level job market has recent graduates particularly desperate to showcase themselves as valuable candidates to every potential employer. In the present job climate, however, even students who show lots of effort and resourcefulness in their job search may still get left out in the cold.
In order to alleviate the potential for unfortunate situations like this, Steven Rothberg, president and founder of CollegeRecruiter.com, argues that the sooner 2011 college graduates start searching for a job, the greater their chances of success will be.
“Everyone should be looking for their next job all the time, because networking is integral to any successful job search,” Rothberg said in an earlier interview.
Katherine Brooks, director of the career center for the Liberal Arts College at the University of Texas at Austin added that, in order to maximize their job opportunities coming out of school, college graduates should expand their job search beyond just the field that they majored in. According to “The Wall Street Journal,” she said that “the major doesn’t necessarily equal their career.”
In the WSJ Cornell University’s Director of Career Services, Rebecca Sparrow argued that “… most people are not going to stay in that first job for 10 years.” Consequently, you should not necessarily perceive it as the job that will perfectly set up the rest of your career. The bottom line is that in order to avoid the humbling experience of moving back in with your parents, going the extra mile to land your first job is no longer optional.
Mikhail Furman is majoring in economics. He can be reached at [email protected].