Blog: Preparing For After College
By Jeffrey Fernandez
Jeffrey Fernandez is currently a senior at Florida International University. He is seeking two majors. The first is a Bachelor’s in English, with an emphasis in creative non-fiction writing, the other degree is Digital Media Studies.
I’ll be graduating in less than four months with two Bachelor’s degrees, the first in English and the second in Digital Media Studies. As I began registering for courses for my last semester, I started to consider my options for college. I’ve decided to take a break from education and focus more on building my resume for career experience. My decision led me to research the current job market for college graduates and proper job planning. Thus, I’ll be sharing my experiences and knowledge on Go4it!
Preparing for a job market that’s in turmoil should be treated as any other natural disaster: begin planning early on; consider how your finances may be affected in case of an emergency; always have a back-up plan; for the love of god, remain calm.
By planning early, you should probably begin looking into companies months before graduating. For instance, I'll be graduating in approximately 3 months. I've already begun researching positions at companies in the television and broadcast industry. I've also been looking over my resume and preparing to ask past employers for letters of recommendation.
If you're worried that your resume is in bad shape, or you don't have a resume to work with at all, then you're in luck. Most universities, if not all, have a career services department on campus. The department can help with creating a new resume from scratch, setting up mock interview workshops, and the department always hosts career fairs on campus. Career fairs are great at looking into what companies are currently searching for in their prospective employees.
I also highly recommend students ask their professors to look over their resumes. The reason is that professors who work in the field understand what employers are looking for in regards to resume formatting and skill set. It also never hurts to ask professors for letters of recommendation.
Yet, all the planning in the world sometimes doesn't follow through. I have too many friends who have been searching for work for almost two years after they've graduated, to no avail. However, they made sure to keep a savings account for emergencies. Although some students don't work throughout their college career, it's still important to continuously keep in mind how one will be financially stable once they've graduated. Of course, your parents can help, but only for so long. If possible, acquire a part-time job while in college and save whatever you can.
If (and hopefully this doesn't happen) you are still job hunting after 6 months to a year of searching, then it may be time to ponder your options. Always have a contingency plan for the worst possible scenario. However terrifying it may be to think of the most pessimal of possibilities, it's still nonetheless pertinent to prepare for them. When too many employers aren't calling back to deliver good news (and if the bills aren't being paid on time) there's always grad school. Even then, technical schools are sometimes the best option.
Keep in mind, the decision to enter the job market can be frightening at first. Searching for work will probably be stressful and nerve wreaking. I won't say if you stick with your plan that all your dreams will come true. But it is also important not to let the stress become overwhelming, and know it will be okay if you decide a different path. Whatever your decision may be, I say follow Conan O'Brien's advice from his farewell speech on his last night at the Tonight Show, “If you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen.”
- The overwhelming evidence of how much the odds are stacked against recent college grads
I’ll begin by discussing the overwhelming evidence of how much the odds are stacked against recent college grads. The economy has slowly crept out of “The Great Recession.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate decreased from 7.3 percent to 7.0 percent in Nov. Keep in mind, these rates are for the national level. Unemployment rates differ from state-to-state.
For instance, Florida, the state I reside in, has an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent as of Nov. 2013. Even though the unemployment rate, whether national or state-wide, has moved down a few percentages, this doesn’t necessarily mean the job market has improved drastically.
Mother Jones has recently reported on the major unemployment rate that is plaguing the nation. Nation-wide there are 40 percent of Americans who are unemployed and searching for work. Because Congress did not extend benefits, 1.3 million people won’t be receiving their unemployment checks.
With the state of joblessness still high, college students who are preparing to graduate within a few months will be facing a tumultuous job market. 40 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed.
The majority of graduates who do become employed tend to work in part-time jobs or have a job that doesn’t require a degree, leaving many to wonder how worthwhile of an investment a degree is these days.
And of course, this precarious market is even worse for students who graduate with a massive amount of student loan debt. More than half of college students graduate with an average debt of almost $30,000, leaving students who enter the job market after college financially burdened.
Stressful situations like these only make it more difficult for students to find solutions while creating more unemployment and unnecessary anxiety.
However, these statistics should not deter prospective college students. Even though it’s been difficult for college graduates to get hired, individuals who obtained a higher education and earned a degree still have a better chance of being hired.
None the less, the key for students is to begin job planning and preparing for life after college. In my next post, I’ll share what on-campus resources are available for students who are expecting to enter the work force after college instead of heading to graduate school.
- Laptop Buying Guide for College
Whether it’s your first year of college or the last, being prepared is always pertinent to having a smooth year. One of the most important items a college student should look into is purchasing a laptop. This buying guide will cover the basic and essential qualities for college students who are in the market for a new laptop.
Considering that college students are always on the go, portability is a huge factor when looking to buy a laptop. If the main purpose of your new PC will be to sit on the desk in your dorm, then a laptop with a 17 inch screen or larger would be best. However, if you plan on carrying your laptop around to and from class, then 13 inches or below may be more convenient and less of a hassle to carry around.
When thinking about how portable you want your laptop to be, you should also focus on what the primary functions of the computer will be. Understanding how you plan on using the laptop will help narrow down what kind of specifications you should look for.
For example, if you’re a huge multi-tasker - i.e. there are five tabs opened on your browser when you should be writing that term paper - consider looking at very fast processors. Intel Core i5 and i7 processors are best for multitasking and high speed web surfing. The Intel Core i3 processor, on the other hand, is best for users who plan on doing some light web surfer.
How fast you want your computer will be dependent on the kind of work you expect to be performing on the computer. If say you’re a student who’s into production or graphic design, you’ll probably want to look into a computer with a large memory and storage space to save those large video and photoshop files. 2GB of RAM is good for the average computer users who’ll be doing some light downloading and who may mainly be using their computer for writing papers. 4GB-8GB of RAM will be for those students who will be doing heavy downloading and saving large files.
When it comes to hard drives and storage space, it is always best to purchase a computer with plenty of space. Solid state hard drives help keep computers cool, but they tend to only come with 128GB worth of storage space.
A traditional HDD hard drive adds more heat and weight to a laptop, but they also have more storage space usually beginning at about 320GB and above.
Regardless of the brand or what the primary use of the laptop will be, it is highly recommended to put in a little extra money when buying a new laptop. It is very important to invest in a laptop that will last at least 3-4 years.
Most importantly, do your best not to abuse your laptop. Purchase good anti-virus software to keep malicious software from doing damage. Be conscious if your computer begins to overheat, which can bring down the lifespan of a laptop very quickly.
Here are some great links to other buying guides:
- Deciding where to go to college can be difficult
With millions of high school students graduating at the beginning of the summer all over the nation, it is vital students seek out information regarding their desired colleges.
Deciding on where to go to college can be a difficult decision. One of the major concerns pertaining to colleges isn’t just which institution provides the best education for a particular major, but how expensive will it cost to attend a college or university.
At this point, it is pertinent for students to not only research the best qualities of a college but also the cost of tuition and fees.
Two-year colleges provide many of the same majors most four-year universities offer at a cheaper yearly rate.
According to an October 2012 article published on CNN Money, the average two-year college’s tuition, fees, room and boarding, and books amounts to $15,584. This price tag is the average cost of an in-state two-year institution.
Four-year colleges, whether public or private, are relatively more expensive. The same article displays the amount of an average public four-year in-state college as $22,261. A four-year in-state private college averages out to $43,289.
Yet, prospective college students shouldn’t be deterred from applying to various institutions due to their financial status. There are plenty of alternatives students when it comes to financial assistance. Students should first check if they qualify for government assistance, meaning financial aid and Pell grants.
Anyone can check if they meet government financial assistance qualifications by checking the Federal Student Aid website.
Students should also due their best to apply for scholarships. Applying for one scholarship doesn’t always cover all the tuition and fees. Students should apply for as many scholarships as possible.
For more information on preparing for college, the College Board has great resources on how to prepare and what to look for when it comes to colleges and universities.
For the information on school tuition and fee averages you can visit this article on CNN Money.