Getting prepared for Graduation by Andrew Hoenig

College graduation is supposed to be exciting. It is a time when students look forward to the future and finally have the chance to accomplish their goal of getting their dream job.

But it is more often than not a troubling time for students who are struggling to find a job straight out of college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, an average of 59% of undergraduates actually obtain their bachelor's degree in four years. Private universities like Franklin Pierce often have higher graduation rates among colleges in the U.S.

More than 40% of college graduates take positions out of school that don't require a degree, according to a report given to CNBC by the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and Burning Glass Technologies. In addition, 1 out of every 5 college grads still aren't working a degree-demanding job a decade after school.
We want to celebrate this huge stepping off point, but what about the worry of not having a job after college?

There are steps students can take starting in their freshman year to ensure that they will be well setup for success in the actually not-so-distant future.

"First and foremost, students can start looking for internships in their freshman year so that they can starting getting real world experience from Day 1 of their first summer break during college," said Ann Goodrich-Bazan, who is the current Assistant Director of Career Services at Franklin Pierce.

"Secondly, our online platform, Pierce Portfolio, is really designed to help students move through freshman to senior year," Goodrich-Bazan said. "There's lots of interactive tools including a portion where there's a list of jobs and internships available, The site allows a student to tailor there resume and then find internships in there field."

The Career Services department was established to specifically help guide students throughout all four years of their college careers.

"We are an under-utilized service most of the time. Often students don't come in till their panicking with five weeks left in their last semester," said Elan Jackson, a graduate assistant who primarily works in Career Services.

In a recent senior survey, 57% were employed in professional positions. While this is a decent number, this does not account for whether or not these students are employed in their desired career field. Career services experts like Goodrich-Bazan and Jackson can help students learn how to format resumes, write cover letters, and perform mock interviews. "Establishing a LinkedIn profile is another big step which can help you grow your network with alumni and professionals in your industry," said Jackson.

The more you utilize Career Services in the beginning, the better off you'll be in the long run. Then you can enjoy graduation like these students above.

Students want to be prepared for life after college and some choose to attend graduate school for further education. 23.6% of graduating students in the most recent Franklin Pierce senior survey said they were enrolled in graduate school or planned to attend graduate school.

Some graduate schools will often pay for the student's continued education while plugging them into a graduate assistant role like Jackson. But there are plenty of cases of students who have a job in or closely aligned with the desired field.

One such student at Franklin Pierce is graduating senior Luke Tracy.

Luke Tracy, class of 2019, has already secured a job as a ranger at Acadia National Park. Tracy dedicated this past summer to working and shooting nature photography in Alaska. Tracy talked about what he says was the most important aspect of his college career that helped him get his new position.

"The combination of environmental and communication studies that I took is exactly what I'm going to do at Acadia. Because of my studies in college, I'll be able to tell the natural history and future of the park. It was key for me to realize exactly what I wanted to do."

Tracy picked up the hobby of being a photographer and that transformed into a passion. Tracy says his photography allowed him to keep track of all his adventures and involvement opportunities and also be a constant reminder of some of the really cool parts of his college experience.

"I knew from the start [of college] that I had to be involved," said Tracy. "Don't dip your toes in, jump head first into whatever adventure or experience is being offered to you. Be in the moment and experience things while you're young. Just do it."

It should be all smiles and no fear like these students celebrating the big day. Do what you can to get ahead of the game by being involved.

"The more active you are, the better off you'll be," said Jackson.

As a student at Franklin Pierce University or any college, if you put in the extra time and work both on and off campus then eventually you can light up a celebratory cigar like graduated senior John Ainsley, class of 2018 and current loan officer at CAPCOM Federal Credit Union.

Graduation 2018 at FPU photos and Luke Tracy photo: Andrew Cunningham and Luke Tracy

Additional photos: Andrew Hoenig

Contact: HoenigA17@live.franklinpierce.edu

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