Erik Hansen is a graduate student pursuing a Master of Public Policy and the “When I Was a Mustang…” columnist.
You know, a job that requires you to have a piece of paper that proves you — or your parents — spent 70, 80 or 90 grand and the prime years of your life huddled in some corner of Robert E. Kennedy Library trying to comprehend relativistic velocity transformations. Only to have those brain cells destroyed during the weekend thanks to a fifth of Value Rite Vodka and unfiltered Pall Malls.
Well, with the most recent nationwide unemployment rate at 9.4 percent, and the state’s rate at 12.4 percent, it’s time to grab the bull by the balls — which is more badass than grabbing it by the horns — and take steps to increase the likelihood you’ll have a job come summertime. Come on, those student loans aren’t going to pay themselves off.
You’ve already taken the first step to increase your likelihood of employment, assuming you make it out of here. A May 2010 article from the New York Times stated that college graduates had a nationwide unemployment rate of 8 percent in April 2010, and that was when the nationwide unemployment rate was 9.9 percent.
But wait a minute. Cal Poly’s own Graduate Status Report from March 2010 states that 10 percent of Cal Poly’s 2008-2009 graduates were still looking for work. That’s discouraging. However, this could reflect the fact that many 2008-2009 graduates probably stayed in California, which, as previously stated, has an unemployment rate of 12.4 percent. Wow, 10 percent is much better than 12.4 percent — lemonade out of lemons!
Digging deeper into the Graduate Status Report, a majority of students (56 percent) found their big boy/big girl job before they had graduated. This was, of course, more than those surveyed who had found their job 1 to 3 months, 4 to 9 months or 9+ months after graduating, combined (44 percent).
The moral of the story you ask? Start looking — now. You could relate this to someone who is already gainfully employed; it is much easier to find a new job while you are employed, than when you are unemployed — or out of school and unemployed.
The vast majority of the 2008-2009 graduating class (90 percent) who found employment found a job that was at least somewhat related to their major. While this makes sense, it is surprising to see such a high number — I’m not sure how English majors are associating their degree to serving up Venti Cappuccinos. So, when looking for your job, even if you hate the major you’ve wasted the past six years of your life on, look for a job that is at least somewhat related. Then, while you are employed, you can start looking for something that excites you even more. Think of it like how your first marriage will be: just settle, then look for something better.
Finally, the majority of the 2008-2009 graduating class (65 percent) who found employment, found their jobs through “networking.” While this word conjures up thoughts of cocktail hours with fake conversations and crap appetizers, that is not the type of networking that is going to land you a job, nor is posting a resume on LinkedIn or Monster.com. This means getting a referral from a previous employer, attending a campus job fair, completing an internship or joining a campus club. Though all of the benefits of an internship, attending campus events or joining a campus club are not immediate, the payoff is much greater in the long run than scouring Craigslist for your job. Everyone knows Craigslist is only good for finding cheap parts for your fixie.
There you have it. In summary: one, look for your job now, two, look for something at least somewhat related to your major and three, get out there and participate beyond the classroom. A no-brainer, but it takes some effort on your part. By following these simple steps, you will have a 211 percent chance of finding a job come summer time.
Also, looking ahead, a November article in the San Jose Mercury stated the starting salaries of Cal Poly graduates, on average, were the highest among all public universities in California, CSU or UC. That’s right, at $55,000, recent Cal Poly graduates are making more than those dirty hippies up in Berkeley.