You’ve Graduated. Now What?

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Freels Picture for Main StoryBy Jordan Freels

What happens when you are ready for the real world, but the real world isn’t ready for you?

“Universities are designed to give its students the skills necessary to prepare them for the job market. Students that have not acquired and developed these skills throughout their college career have been failed by their respective college institution. They have wasted their time, energy, and money investing in a college education,” says Anthony Ihe, Finance Major, from Piscataway, NJ, Fairleigh Dickinson University, 23 years old.

Going to school and graduating with a degree means one should hopefully be able to find a job in their field upon graduation. But what if you couldn’t find a job in your field? Would you work for a company that paid you little to nothing? Would you be unsatisfied for the rest of your life working at a company you hated? Companies are constantly hiring and firing employees, so what makes you different? How can you outshine other candidates, and why even bother trying to work so hard if you’re just going to be miserable anyway?

Emily Filipeck, 21 years old, from North Carolina, an Express Sales Associate, would recommend anyone who does not have a true passion to work in this field to RUN FOR THEIR LIVES, as far away as possible. Filipeck explains how working for a paralegal firm, while the firms themselves were different, the lawyers themselves are, ‘all the same’ and the only time the work space was not hectic was when the lawyers were out in court.

“These days, I would rather be a CNA(Certified Nursing Assistant) wiping old people’s butts in a hospital and making decent money than to sit all dressed up in a law firm making pennies,” she said.

The pay for the law firms, Filipeck explains, is not worth it. “You will be lucky if you ever make more than $12.00 an hour. About three-fourths of my friends that I graduated with from paralegal school either chose different career paths after a few years of failed attempts at finding a job or now work at law firms making $10.00 or $12.00 an hour.”

To earn a college degree is something that many take pride in, but some may not be able to flaunt their fancy degree if they cannot put it to use. Going to college gives students the opportunity to grow, learn, and graduate in hopes of finding a job in the field they’ve recently earned; but sometimes, working for a company that may not be what you earned your degree in may be the best option, but it all depends on you.

According to Forbes.com, “Sixty percent of U.S. college graduates cannot find a full-time job in their chosen profession, according to job placement firm Adecco.” Forbes continues, “Today’s employers can choose from candidates all over the globe. And what sets one applicant apart from another are skill sets that transcend one’s major or desired profession.” Interestingly enough, many of the people who were interviewed agreed with this company without knowing the statistics given. Those interviewed expressed companies want people to work for their company but then choose not to hire people who do not have experience; but does not one need experience to learn the craft of a particular company?

Sidebar: Graduate School: Will it help or hinder? Is it even worth it?

Melissa Felix,24, NJCU Alumnus, Community Living Specialist, from Vernon, New Jersey is someone who believes that experience is needed upon graduating and looking for work. Felix also was one to be influenced by her family, her original plan was to major in Interior Design.

Her take on experience for the work field is, “I believe recent graduates struggle to find a job today within their field because employers are looking for candidates who have multiple years of experience. Unfortunately, for recent college graduates who did not participate at an internship during their college career to develop some experience are forced to work for a company outside of their declared major.” Something Felix can relate too, her current job is working at a group home for disabled and mentally challenged adults as a community living specialist. She added “I have hopes that I will one day work for a major export company.”

Unlike Felix’s story, Jonathan Euceda, 24, Montclair State University Alumnus, from West New York, NJ has a similar opinion on experience. Euceda has a degree in Criminal Justice but currently works at Express in Livingston Mall as an Assistant Manager. Euceda says, “…Many people don’t get hired because they lack ‘experience’. This is why all institutions, colleges, and universities need to have their students do many more internships to graduate instead of just one.”

If experience is so important than what is the issue- the candidates or the companies?

According to Gallup.com’s article, Business Leaders Say Knowledge Trumps College Pedigree,

“When hiring, U.S. business leaders say the amount of knowledge the candidate has in a field, as well as applied skills, are more important factors than where a candidate attended school or what their college major was.”

College graduates have a degree to further their career paths; a degree shows a strong suit they have, so if they have all required credentials then how and why is it hard for people to find jobs? Are people looking in the wrong career path?

Everyone knows that common phrase, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ So when does that ever play a factor? Does it even at all?

David Ellis, reporter for The Telegraph in the article Degrees do not guarantee jobs, people do says, “While it’s true that not all graduates are in graduate jobs, blaming universities and limiting education for all, is not the answer.” He further states, “[T]he job market is bleak and unsparing for everyone and a degree does not somehow unburden its bearer of this. Who thought it would? Were sixth-formers sold the idea that degrees hang in recession-proof frames? This said, any simple reading of the ONS report makes clear that young people with degrees are better off than their counterparts. It notes ‘non-graduates aged 21-30 have consistently higher unemployment rates than all other groups.’ Since 2008/09, it is also this group who have seen unemployment rates rise the most steeply and again, it is this bracket who have the highest inactivity rates (they are out of the workforce).”

So who is right?

Euceda argues, “If I were unable to find a job in my field I would look for work in retail or banking. Business has always been one of my strong suits. This is where a lot of my professional experience has come from so it would be wise for me to follow a career path in the business world.”

Euceda’s ultimate goal is to become a state or federal police officer. So for him, “I will not stop until I am able to achieve it. Everything I do until then is a resume builder.”

He understands and accepts that for right now he is not where he wants to be, but he is gaining experience in a field that he could possibly put to use if his dream of becoming an officer does not work out. He has a plan, which he plans to execute, but if his dream does not pan out how wishes, he further expressed, “Being able to protect and provide a service to others is something that I have always admired. If my plans don’t work out being in some type of retail banking is never a bad look.”

So far, two people have demonstrated having a college degree is useful and can be put to use, but both candidates are currently not working in their field. Felix and Euceda understand and are willing to work in a different field without working in their dream field, but what if they weren’t satisfied?

What if you did not need a college degree? Then how would you cope? According to The American Interest website, Four in Ten College Grads Don’t Need a Degree for Their Work.

“It’s not exactly a shock at this point that college grads haven’t been able to make the most of their degrees, but when nearly half of the country’s college students are wasting money on degrees that they believe have done nothing to prepare them for their jobs, there’s obviously a problem,” says analysis Walter Russell.

“These findings can’t be chalked up entirely to undergraduates’ poor choices; college degrees have increasingly become prerequisites for jobs that could easily be performed by high school grads.” He continues.

Sometimes, sitting in class may be tiresome and unbearable, but in the end all one has learned should give them the satisfaction that they can make it out in the real world. So why with this article only four college graduates do not need a degree, what about the others? Are they wasting their time? Will they be stuck in the competitive circle of finding a job?

Ihe, a hard-working young man, who just wants to make a living supporting himself expresses, “I just want to be great.” As he expressed earlier he felt students waste their time, money and education if they are not working in their field upon graduation. Ihe further went on to say that while colleges and universities need to prepare their students for the job market that many could possibly be unhappy in the particular job they have because it is not what they set their mind to do.

“It depends on whether the individual is happy and passionate about what he is doing, a good employee is a happy employee. If the individual has to settle for any kind of work that he is not too fond of he will not be successful,” Ihe continued.

For those who cannot find work in their field, has it ever occurred to you running your own business might be a good idea? Who wouldn’t want to be their own boss? Making their own hours, and not having to report to anyone.

Being an Entrepreneur was a hidden talent of Ihuoma ‘Ebo’ Onwunali I did not know. He, along with his brother own Foqus Ink. a tattoo shop in Roselle, NJ. Currently, Onwunali works for Liberty Realty, A real-estate firm, and is a Graduate Student of NJCU studying Finance who resides in Roselle, NJ.

His views on having a degree but not working in that particular field are total opposites of the previous shared stories. Before finding out of his business, he expressed, how he would ‘create his own business’ if he could not find a job in his field.

“I would start a business that may or may not be relevant to my field of study. In researching the business, I will make sure that it meets three critical criteria: 1) the business must identify a specific need, desire, or frustration that’s experienced by a targeted segment/group of the population (target market); 2) I will then identify if there are readily available and easy methods of communicating or reaching that target market; 3) I will then craft a message and offer that speaks directly to the aforementioned needs, desires, or frustrations of that market and offer then a product or service that is also relevant or meets those needs, desires, or frustrations by either making things easier, better, or faster for them…” says Onwunali.

Ellis argues, “It is no exaggeration to say underemployment is a blight on our society – its consequence is an inefficient workforce. For any young person, jobs are scarce and competition is fierce. Collecting qualifications will not change this.”

Onuwali, again, has a different view of the competitive aspect of how jobs can be, by saying, “I believe that as long as there’s a need in the marketplace (no matter how you define marketplace), and multiple players that can fulfill that need, there will always be high level of competition and a greater need for one to be able to successfully differentiate him/herself or company.”

According to the article, Which graduates find jobs most easily? And who’s earning the big money? Written by Rebecca Ratcliffe for The Guardian on-line news paper,

“There hasn’t been much good news for university-leavers over the past four years, but it looks like things might be about to change. A survey released last week found that nine in 10 graduates of the class of 2008-09 have found work, despite graduating at the onset of the economic crisis. And, this summer, a survey of the 100 largest graduate employers also suggested that recruitment is on the mend. The number of vacancies being advertised is up 4.6% according to the survey, which – although below pre-recession levels – is the highest rate seen since 2008,” says Ratcliffe.

So what does this mean? Where is the competition? Ratcliffe further explains,

“Statistics released by the Higher Education Statistics Authority (Hesa) show that, of the graduates leaving full-time degree courses in 2008-09, 18.8% found work in the health and social work sector, while 14.1% are now in the professional, scientific and technical industry (which includes anything from bookkeeping, to architectural services or legal advice). The biggest source of employment for graduates was the education sector – where more than a quarter (25.5%) now work,” Ratcliffe.

Numbers do not lie, so will the competition ever end? The latter of those interviewed said competition will only increase because the population will continue to grow.

Leslie Langley, 24, Sociology Major, University of North Carolina, expressed how her family had a huge influence on what she should study in school, slightly similar to Felix’s.

“Yes. My entire first 3 years were dictated by my family, I HATED IT and my GPA dropped as a result of it. I changed my major 4-5 times before my Junior year. It was horrible. I was an international business major, economics major, political science, international studies, public relations/mass communications, and now I’m sociology major,” says Langley.

As she said this one could see the seriousness in her face. She seemed like she wanted to please the wishes of her family, similar to Anthony Ihe who expressed,

“Yes initially when I entered college I was studying chemistry because my father wanted me to go to medical school and he figured since I was good at chemistry in high school I would excel in it at the collegiate level. I soon realized that chemistry was not for me and switched my studies to finance.”

Now, Langley is learning what she wants to do is better and is happier. Something, she says some people may not experience if they are not satisfied in their job.

“I feel like competition will always increase, you can only have but so many positions, ideally it would balance out, but I really don’t see that happening,” she says.

“I feel like companies like to go through their options and don’t want to ‘settle’ so they’ll overlook many different candidates. They want people with experience, but aren’t willing to help people get that experience needed for their resume,” says Langley.

Mirara Ndungu, NJCU Alumnus, 28 years old, JC Penny Employee, from Jersey City, NJ has an opposite take on ones performance at work and what steps he would take if he could not find a job in his field.

“First off, I would be really upset, but moving on from there I would focus on what kind of diversity exists for my career. I would break it down into skills that can be used, by finding a similar application to stimulate passion and excitement. I design so there is creativity, but also attention to detail, technical expertise, interpersonal skills, and an instinctive ability to simplify problems into solutions,” says Ndungu.

He further continues, “Those not working in their field, or in their passion will have a decrease in performance, because we increase performance by how we feel about our jobs. For me, working retail instead of design puts a damper on what I can get done because I think so why put the extra effort if its just for the money, why do I have to do all these tasks I hate to go nowhere?”

Dashun Catchart 29 years old, Dotcom Distribution Manager, Rutgers University Alumnus, from New Brunswick NJ took not having a job in his field of choice on a much lighter note, by saying,

“No. Sometimes the path you choose may not be what works best for you. Someone can find an alternate field and find success that they never dreamed of in the field they wanted” says Catchart.

His wish of being a middle school principle has yet to come to fruition, but with his degree in English/communications and african studies he truly believes he can one day soon influence children who may not have the motivation and support in other aspects of their lives.

Catchart says, “Not currently working in my chosen field doesn’t mean that the dream is over. It’s just deferred.”

Nichele Patrick, 30, Detective, Montclair University Alumnus, from East Orange, New Jersey looks at her job currently as something she loves, even though it can be viewed as one of the toughest. Currently Patrick works for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office as a Detective for the Child Abuse Unit.

Patrick says, “Not if they find joy or fulfillment in this new field. I love my job and enjoy what I do although this was not my career choice.”

Her original plan was to become a lawyer, and although she states, “I worked in a law office for 10 years and became fascinated with law; my backup plan was to be an investigator.”

Patrick could be the exception to the rule. She loves her job and even previously worked in the field she thought she would currently be in. So maybe sometimes it is what makes you happy even if it’s not your number one pick.

Peter Ejeh, 26, NJCU Alumnus, from Harrison, New Jersey has a different experience than Langley and Felix.

He expresses, “No! There was never a time in my college career where I was forced or persuaded to earn a degree in a particular field that I had never been interested in.”

Ejeh’s attraction to his job was because he knew the amount of money he could make. With his undergraduate degree in International Business and with his Masters in Organizational Management and Leadership he expressed, “I got attracted to my field because of the potential to earn a lot of money in the future and one day become a top executive at a fortune 100 company. No! I did not have a backup plan; I knew what I wanted to do and I went for it.”

Interestingly, Ejeh further expresses, “I believe that the reason why people struggle to find jobs after graduation is because there are a lot of people entering the work force and not enough jobs,” but he himself is currently unemployed but wishes to work in his desired field one day.

Sidebar: Career Changes: Thank You Amazon

LaTonia Dillon, 31, West Virginia University Alumnus, Short Term Disability Benefits Worker, from Yonkers, NY gives a different aspect as to the struggles of why young graduates struggle to find jobs with a degree.

Dillon says, “I believe once young adults enter the work field a “real world” sense of urgency and financial responsibilities may cause candidates to apply for multiple jobs in sometimes any and all areas of interest.”

She further goes on to say, “My current occupation is not in my “field”. I graduated with a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Counseling, and I am a Short Term Disability Benefits Examiner.”

So is she another exception like Patrick? Although these women have different stories, they both have degrees and do not work in their perspective field.

Lisa Fonseca, 30, Detective, CUNY Alumnus, from Newark, New Jersey has a stance that some may disagree with.

Fonseca says, “No. I believe it’s sadly based on who you know. Realistically I’ve seen many people straight out of college working in a field because they have family already employed there. It’s known as nepotism but they don’t seem to factor that in. They get paid not based on their sexual orientation or education but who they know.”

Ellis would agree, with his stance being, “A degree will not excuse stuttering through an interview, it will not correct spelling mistakes on a CV and it doesn’t individualise the generic ‘I have a 2:1 and worked the summer at my Dad’s place’ cover letter.”

While Ellis argues the work a recent graduate did for a family business upon graduation should not be the only factor in them being in the pool of not finding a job, and Fonseca argues sometimes it is who you know not what you know, both would agree that having a degree holds some weight then none, but if this is true why is there such a divide within the job field?

Fonseca continues, “I’m excited to have graduated with a bachelor of science in criminal justice. Taking a job as a data entry clerk and bank teller before graduating college but one year after graduating working in my field of study.”

On a lighter note, she answered the last question with a smile on her face by saying, “No. They were just excited that I was the first in the family to enter college and successfully complete with a degree.”

Her family, coming from an environment that was not the best Fonseca wanted to not be a stereotype; she wanted to “interview the person committing the crimes to see what caused them to choose that life. My backup plan was to teach at the intermediate level.”

Although she never became a teacher, Fonseca is content with the job that she has. She works hard, and it shows that even with a degree you may not end up working where you can put your degree to use, but if you can, you just might get lucky.

William Chalmers, 25, Residency Coordinator, from South Orange, New Jersey views how successful one can be without working in their desired field differently.

“It depends on the individual. Many skills are transferable to different areas of study so if someone desires enough to gain a decent job or career they will make a way. Those too hung up on not being in their field usually do not,” says Chalmers.

Chalmers further feels for someone who does not work in their field, it could affect their performance, “It depends on the individual and how much they are earning at the job outside of their field.”

Although Chalmers was straight to the point his opinion like the rest interviewed shows it truly depends on the individual, along with the type of job they are looking for. Unfortunately the job market is not what it used to be, and even though times have changed jobs will always be around, because without work people would not be able to support themselves.

To conclude, wither one has a degree and works in their field, or ends up doing something totally different, one must work to support themselves. Like Euceda previously stated, everything he does is a resume builder until he reaches his dream job, and while some may not agree with his views, he has a plan.

Ellis says, “A degree is proof you wanted to learn, can learn and will keep learning. It should show your mind has been stretched and twisted, contradicted and challenged, moulded and remoulded.” And if it hasn’t by a slight chance, then maybe it’s because you weren’t working hard enough while in school, or because you haven’t had the best of luck finding a job even with your fancy degree, but you should ask yourself…What happens when you are ready for the real world, but the real world isn’t ready for you?