By Christian Robinson
Now that graduation season is over, many recent college graduates are beginning the transition from the classroom to the workplace.
Ariana Murray, 22, who recently graduated from Bowie State University with a degree in child and adolescent studies, was one of those individuals. Like other students, she has applied for jobs, paid and unpaid internships.
“I’ve been looking at jobs. I’m taking into consideration different career fields I’m interested in; however, I know I want to work with special needs children. In the long run, I want to be an applied developmental psychologist,” said Murray, who hails from Beloit, Wisconsin.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center concluded that it’s harder for new graduates to find good jobs. The study found that in 2012, some 44% of graduates were working jobs that did not require a degree, a rate that increased after the 2001 and 2004-2009 recessions. Of that 44%, only 36% were working what researchers called a “good non-college job” with salaries of around $45,000.
Though graduates aren’t working what researchers call “good non-college jobs,” they still out-earn people without degrees. College graduates earned a median annual salary of $45,500 while those with at least a high school diploma earned $28,000.
The same report found that most graduates think college was worth it. Surveyed graduates said that college has or will pay off in the future. Some 98% of the highest paid graduates were the surest that their degree paid off, all of their salaries were at least six figures. The study also showed that those with graduate degrees were more likely to say their graduate degree was worth it.
Rosetta Price, assistant director of the Career Development Center at BSU, said that during the transition from classroom to workplace, students need to know their goals.
“Many times, we find that students may have identified a major, but they still don’t know how to use it, and in which industry to use it,” Price said. “They need to make sure they’ve figured out what path they’re going to take. Are they going to go into the world of work? Or are they going to go to graduate school?”
Price went on to commend students when it comes to focusing on their studies and checking off the list in order to graduate. However, she said many students don’t have a focus outside of Bowie State until graduation day when they come to a standstill and ask: “Now what?”
Depending on the desired occupation, students may have to go to graduate school, Price said. The Career Development Center helps students identify graduate school and professional schools that align with their aspirations.
The university has partnered with the Princeton Review, an organization that provides testing services such as the LSAT, GRE, GMAT and MCAT. Princeton Review offers these services for free on campus. The services start with strategy sessions and then a practice tests before the actual exam, Price said.
While students are trained in the “hard skills” of their chosen careers, Price said, they often need help with the “soft skills” required to be successful in the professional workplace.
“We encourage students to get out of the box and do things to try and strengthen those soft skills be it communication, writing, leadership skills or taking initiative,” Price said. “Employers say that this generation of students really needs to work on working in teams.”
The Career Development Center has resources in order to aid students and train them towards their goals. Not many students are utilizing these free resources, Price said. The resources are not only open to current students, but to alumni as well.
The university also has a job board called Bulldogs 4 Hire which is on the center’s website. The website also has tips on how to dress for job interviews, cover letters, resumes and other helpful resources.
Though students may have an idea of where they want to go, Price said, they need to create a plan to get there.
Krystal Speed, 22, of Clinton, Maryland, a recent BSU graduate who is pursuing a career in broadcast journalism, agreed. Preparation is important, she said, especially when it comes to career goals. Taking the initiative to build your future is important.