To whom it may concern: I regret to inform you the employment rates and salaries of recent graduates have dropped significantly in the past few years.
Approximately half of recent graduates have jobs that require a college degree, a quarter of recent graduates have taken jobs that do not require a college degree, and the last quarter can’t even land a job, according to Catherine Rampell of the New York Times.
This spring, thousands of students across the country will graduate and find themselves entering the real world — as many of us call it — only to be welcomed by poor job prospects and burdensome debt.
The only questions left to ask are simple: What can students do to line up jobs, and what can educational institutions do for imminent alumni to ease the transition?
You will find that experience is a requirement in almost every single application you fill out. Two to five years experience in this, five to 10 years experience in that. I have even seen postings with ridiculous requirements of 10 to 15 years experience. Lessons in the classroom will never amount to lessons learned through empiricism.
Networking and experience are the essential ingredients to gaining an upper hand on the person sitting next to you at an interview. I was lucky enough to get my job through a referral by a friend that I met while networking.
Accordingly, the first thing universities should focus their attention on is networking and experience-based opportunities for students: internships, externships, apprenticeship, assistant researching and volunteering.
Fortunately, USC offers many opportunities. Unfortunately, the opportunities are not always well advertised. Students tend to find out about them hours before they take place; they have little time to do the kind of research that’s necessary for effective networking.
Even worse, these job fairs take place during the busiest times of the day. Noon is when students rush toward the Campus Center for a quick fix before the next lecture begins. Many students do not have enough time to present themselves properly in front of potential employers.
To get around that issue, some students — including myself — have resorted to cutting class to visit a job fair. But heed my warning: Do not skip a three-hour, once-a-week lecture. I returned the following week to find out I missed the crux of the course and a pop quiz.
USC should consider allowing students to keep their work-study jobs on campus for a set time after graduation. This system would benefit students worried about paying off student debt while searching frantically for any place that will take them.
The amount of debt students accumulate is rising, only making the search for a well-paying job more urgent. In October 2011, USA Today released an article stating that student loans had totaled more than $1 trillion, and students borrowed more than $100 billion in 2011.
It is in the best interest of higher education institutions to develop programs to minimize the arduous transition into the job market. Happy graduates with financial security are more likely to thank their alma maters than those struggling to pay for sustenance.
As stressful as it sounds, my only suggestion to students early in their college careers is to submerge themselves into programs where they are forced to meet people.
I know many unemployed people who I consider to be outstanding individuals, who have had to accept the first job offer they received, often resulting in relocation because of consequences beyond their control. Do what you can — while remaining ethical — to gain the advantage over your peers.
As for eager and frustrated seniors like myself, until at least the economy recovers to its pre-recession state, the best thing I suggest is to apply, apply and apply again a few more times.
Rinse, lather, and repeat. It could never hurt to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.
Andrew Gomez is a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law.