A study done by consulting firm McKinsey and the website Chegg, included in an article published by business magazine Forbes, surveyed 4,900 former Chegg customers about the job force. According to the article, “Nearly half of grads from four-year colleges are working in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.” The article writer, Susan Adams, also reported that, according to a 2012 Associated Press story, 53.6 percent of college graduates, or 1.5 million, under age 25 in 2011 were out of work or underemployed.
Plattsburgh State social work major Esther Louis-Juste said she believed the high percentage of unemployed and underemployed college grads in 2011 could have been a result of the economy.
“I feel it’s different now,” she said. “Society’s getting better. It takes time for a gradual change. It’s not going to happen overnight. I know for a fact that it has gotten better in regards to hiring students after graduation.”
Other PSUC students, however, found the lack of college grads in careers that require a four-year degree alarming.
“It bothers me because you spend so long researching something you love,” PSUC public relations major Emma Pasquali said. “When your college career is over, you really want to be able to say, ‘Yes, I deserve it now because I graduated, and it’s my time.’ It does make me a little unsettled.”
Nevertheless, PSUC business administration major Hailey Paddock said she wasn’t surprised.
“I would almost be surprised if I got a job that was exactly what I wanted to do,” she said. “I would be okay if I got a job that was not exactly what I wanted to do as long as it’s a passion of mine. I live on a farm, so if it was agriculturally related I think I would be OK with it, even though it’s not what I’m going for.”
Referencing the 2011 statistics, PSUC Career Development Center Director Julia Overton-Healy said the national economy is beginning to bounce back and regain health, as measured by productivity profits and revenues. Growth is also monitored through job creation and the number of companies actively hiring.
She explained that though the job market has seen improvement, it is still relatively difficult for some to find jobs.
“All the people that were laid off and lost their jobs in the recession were gainfully employed, well skilled and had some experience in their field,” Overton-Healy said. “They were put out on the job market, and a lot of those people are still looking.”
When current college students are competing against seasoned professionals, Overton-Healy said experience is not necessarily a deal breaker for employers.
“You have to be more strategic in the way you’re looking for work,” she said. “For Millennials, the No. 1way to start and grow your career has been and will continue to be networking.
“If students aren’t learning how to network — and that’s both in person, through LinkedIn or some other online sites that are popular — they’re missing a big piece of what they’re going to need to do to get ready for gainful employment.”
Overton-Healy said a lot of employers also look for qualities other than simple technical or discipline-based knowledge, including a strong work ethic, problem-solving skills, initiative, the ability to work well with a wide variety of people, established written and oral communication skills, global sensibility and the ability to be technologically savvy.
Louis-Juste said she believes she will find a job in her field because she has passion and drive to pursue a social work career.
“It’s something that is needed, and they want more people in the field,” she said.
However, Louis-Juste said she will be disappointed if she does not land a job in her intended field.
“I spent four years of college to prepare myself for social work, but I also feel that it would be an eye-opener to see that not everything happens the way you want to happen and to expect the unexpected.”
Overton-Healy said PSUC students anxious about career prospects or those simply hoping to get a head-start on the hiring process can find help at the Career Development Center, located on the first floor of the Angell College Center.
“I believe that you have to fight for what you have,” Pasquali said about sticking to career ambitions. “You have to believe in yourself. You need to go towards the direction in which you sought out to begin with, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be subject to change.”
Email Patrick Willisch at firstname.lastname@example.org