Opinion — “Spearheading” the looming stress of entering the job market

GRADUATION LOOMS — I just had to buy my cap and gown at the graduation fair. I cant help but be filled with dread.
GRADUATION LOOMS — I just had to buy my cap and gown at the graduation fair. I can’t help but be filled with dread.
Megan Poe

Seniors are buying their caps and gowns at the NMU Bookstore during the grad fair, and while this is an exciting time, it is laced with the dread of uncertainty. 

Some of us are not concerned about our post-grad outcomes, but others have been refreshing Indeed and Glassdoor like it’s nobody’s business. It seems like everybody is hiring, but no one is getting hired.

Online, there are horror stories about sending out hundreds of job applications and only receiving a few interviews that go nowhere. Even LinkedIn’s newsletter acknowledged the struggles of “the vast majority of professionals.”

With the tech industry experiencing a massive employment drought, even computer science majors are putting on their barista aprons and joining the illustration majors and dropouts. This year, nobody is safe from the condescending question from your aunt at Thanksgiving: “What are you going to do with that degree?” 

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According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6.5 million people in the U.S. are unemployed. We currently have an unemployment rate of 3.9%, which isn’t ideal, but it’s not bread-line depression, Germany post-WWI concerning. Despite the unemployment fear-mongering online, most of us will probably get a job whether or not it’s in our industry.

Graduating is anxiety-inducing enough before bearing the existential weight of deciding what to do with the rest of your life, especially when so much of it is out of your control. During these crucial years of development, it’s difficult to tell what we even want, and if we think we know, is it even available or realistic? Lots of people regret their majors, and lots of people regret what they did with them. With the probability that you’ll have several career changes in your life, it’s okay to not know everything, yet; everything will evolve regardless.

With all of these questions and concerns in mind, it’s important to be proactive instead of reactive. Even in March, start being active on job boards. Not only that but use the university as a resource. Your tuition goes toward more than your classes– your advisor has connections with everybody, and that means that you can, too. Take your resume and cover letters to The Writing Center or Career Services; they’ll help you fine-tune your writing and show you how to market yourself better. 

Broadening your searches, such as searching for any job that’s in an area you’re considering living in, can be equally productive as searching for specific job titles you’d like to have. Where you want to establish yourself is just as important as what field you want to work in. Even if you have the best job in the world, if you don’t like where you live, you’ll be miserable.

Another avenue that could prove to be beneficial is applying for paid summer internships. Some companies require that you’re still enrolled in school, but many will accept recent graduates. In a lot of ways, landing an internship is easier than getting a job, and while it pays less, it gives you both experience and four months to apply to full-time positions– that is if they don’t offer you one at the company you’re interning for. In this sense, you’ll still be a barista, but the office drones are usually less concerned about how burnt the coffee is. 

Lastly, it’s possible to gain more traction by applying on the company websites rather than on LinkedIn or Indeed. Chances are, companies manage their own site better than they manage their LinkedIn account. Additionally, don’t ship off thirty “quick applies” from your phone expecting that you’ll get an interview. The accessibility of sending off your resume with no cover letter influxes the amount of applicants, which means you’re competing with much higher numbers. 

This process is overwhelming, but be proud of yourself that you finished your degree. Some of us will move back in with our parents longer than others, but if you are motivated enough to survive four years of college, you’ll be tenacious enough to create a career.

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