Degrees Do Not Mean Jobs: College Grads Fight Underemployment

Many recognize that unemployment can be a significant threat to recent college graduates, however, underemployment often poses a problem as well. While some students are fortunate enough to have a job lined up for them immediately, for most, graduation means the beginning of a long search for a job in their field of study that adequately fits their qualifications.

“It would be hard for me to find a job right out of college since I have a Biology degree and Biology degrees don’t really call for higher level employment right out of college. I made the conscientious decision back when I was fourteen to go straight to grad school after college”, says Eileen Abdollahi, Biological Sciences ‘19.

For many students, graduate school is too expensive to pursue right away, therefore compelling them to find a job and save up money for a graduate education. However, most are forced to accept low paying or minimum wage jobs outside of their skill sets due to lack of experience. Therefore, many find themselves in a predicament when applying to jobs in their field because most require years of experience and are unwilling to hire recent college graduates, while the only way to gain experience is to get a job.

Pacific swimmer Cai Hong Singh, International Relations ‘19 expresses that she wishes that she had had more time to pursue internships in her field of study during her college career, but the intense training in her sport left her little time to do so.

“A lot of the people I will be graduating with have a lot of experience in their field and are well connected. [For example,] they’ve done internships abroad or know people who work in the state department but I feel like I’m having difficulties putting my degree to use since I don’t have those things”, says Singh.

Furthermore, some believe that it is more difficult now to obtain a job as a recent college graduate than it has been in the past. Because more people are getting degrees, employers seem to be raising their standards and are less willing to hire people simply based on education level in the field unless the applicant has some sort of personal connection to them.

“I think nowadays it’s all about networking and what kind of connections you have. It really depends on whether you have those connections that will give you job opportunities right out of school” says Felicia Chow, Biological Sciences ‘19. “Some people are just more connected than others and it sucks because it’s no longer necessarily based on skill level.”

When asked about what advice they would give to underclassmen so that they can be prepared for life after graduation, most seniors said to start networking as soon as possible and take internship opportunities if possible. This will allow students to make personal connections to possible employers and show that they have some experience in their field of study. Furthermore, seniors recommend taking advantage of the career resource center in order to help with accomplishing the first two tips. The career resource center can provide students with interview and resume critiques as well as possible work experience opportunities. To all graduating seniors, good luck on the job hunt!

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