Opinion: Students Are Under-Prepared Following Graduation

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – Chuck Schumer tells the same story every year, one about following a girl or taking a job. While his story always ends the same way – he follows the girl, and implores Marist graduates to take the other path – current graduates are experiencing mixed levels of post-graduation anxiety.

“I have a little bit of apprehension,” explained senior communications student David Salamone. “but I felt the same way going from high school to college, and it turned out fine obviously.”

Salamone, one of roughly 1,600 seniors at Marist College, is amongst the middle of the pack, a group in which students are concerned, but cautiously optimistic. He’s not alone in such a sentiment, as his classmate and fellow communications student, Lawrence Lang, echoes the idea that everything will end up fine.

“I mean, I never thought I’d see graduation because of health issues,” Lang says. “But I have a summer job. I’ll worry about a Fall job when the time comes… for now, I’ll be okay.”

In fact, most students are okay. The college’s class of 2015 saw 97-percent of graduates go on to become employed or attend graduate school following their graduation. The webpage on which these stats are found provides a bit of a caveat; an asterisk that reads, “Marist provides an environment for success, however it does not guarantee job placement or entrance/acceptance into graduate school.” This is true of any school, but it makes for an interesting conversation. Plenty of students know the statistics. So why are they still nervous?

A survey conducted by Monster.com, a site well-known for its career services, shows that 75-percent of students immediately following their graduation don’t have jobs lined up. Another 37-percent don’t believe that they’ll find the job they desire. And yet again, the final stat recorded further breaks the record: 97.8-percent of college graduates do find employment.

But that’s the issue. Students believe that, eventually, they will find a job, but some I spoke with feel as though they’re not prepared nearly enough. Career services seems to be an office with doors that are always open, but advice that sometimes borders on flaccid. The resume tips, the indeed.com links, and the cover letter workshops are nice. How preparatory are they really?

To investigate, I attended a resume consultation back in March. I walked in with a resume that I had submitted to dozens of internships at the time, and one that I presume had acted as an assistant in my getting an internship this summer (which, at the time, I had already been offered and accepted). The office suggested that I change my resume’s format, as well as remove certain accolades/information in order to achieve more success with applications. I took their advice, applied for a few more internships. I didn’t hear back.

This experiment may have flaws, but it’s interesting to note that based on prior intuition, experience in other classes, and advice from professors rather than career advisers, I was able to achieve an internship. Is this the office’s error? That, I certainly cannot say. But I did find that my advisers in the communication internship department provided vastly superior and far more informative advice. With their help, I believe this internship was achievable. Students are stressed. It’s understandable as to why.

To help, though, Monster provided some steps, all of which you can find on their site. They feel as though most students worry because their resume isn’t done. So they suggest those students visit a professional who can provide a resume assessment. Maybe students are freaking out about their interviews (33-percent of respondents are terrified of the daunting Q&As). Practice, receive consult, and master your answers, perhaps. And some simply have anxiety related to not knowing what their dream job is quite yet. The truth is? Most people don’t.

The preparation may be limited. The anxiety may see a hike as graduation day closes in. But take it from David Salamone: this is normal.

“This is just how life works. You start new chapters. There’s uncertainty, but you’ll eventually start something new.”

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