Anxiety always runs high for college graduates, with the prospect of having to cope with a laundry list of new responsibilities, including finding that first “real job.”
As commencement for December graduates was nearing the unemployment rate for the well-educated was on the rise, according to reports from the Bureau for Labor Statistics, reaching 5.1%, its highest point since the figure was first recorded in 1970.
The December 2010 rates showed some improvement as the figure dropped to 4.8%, but certainly not the type of improvement those receiving their degrees would like to see.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeanne Daffron certainly sees the issues facing many recent graduates, but she also thinks that Western does a good job in preparing students to enter the work force.
“These are definitely difficult times for any individual who is seeking employment. It is important to make good decisions about education and to know that the unemployment rate for college graduates is less than half that of individuals with only a high school education,” Daffron said.
Daffron really believes in the educational benefits of the workplace learning experience that is required for most students.
“I do think that many Western graduates may have an advantage because of our focus on applied learning,” Daffron said. “The majority of Western graduates complete at least one applied learning experience before graduation. Employers tell us that these experiences help new graduates to move more efficiently and successfully into regular positions. Students who complete internships are frequently offered regular positions at the same organization.”
Recent Western graduate Brandon Edwards, a convergent media major, spoke about his recent experiences trying to find a job after graduation.
“I graduated in May, and I’ve only been on one interview at KQ2, which is where I did my internship, so that was my only ‘in,’” Edwards said.
Edwards is pretty disheartened with the process as are many people currently pursuing employment in their chosen field. He said that he’s not sure Western can do anything for him right now. “No one ever told me, ‘Hey go to this office and they’ll get you a job,’” Edwards said.
“I had been working at Tractor Supply, but I lost that job and I have been driving a truck delivering flowers since then,” Edwards said. “I’m hoping to get on with a prison soon, I’ve been through their background check, and I’m just waiting to hear back from them.”
Edwards said that his wife is currently attending Western and won’t finish her degree for another two years so he can’t leave the area until then to seek employment elsewhere.