For college students, perhaps nothing is as daunting as finding a full-time job. At UNC, University Career Services consistently reports approximately 90 percent of alumni as either pursuing graduate studies or being employed full-time six months after graduation.
So, how easy is it for students to get a job out of UNC? The answer could depend on the professional school you’re enrolled in.
According to University Career Services, the standard employment rate for the UNC class of May 2016 was 72.4 percent, but this varies across the different colleges within the University. The number of graduates still seeking employment ranged from zero percent at the School of Information and Library Science, to just 10 percent at the School of Education. This is lower than the national average of 16 percent of recent graduates still seeking employment, as reported by by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Best Colleges lists resume services, interview practice and job and internship search as three of the most important components to the quality of university career services.
Emily Strader, career counselor, said UNC services include these components as well as a myriad of different workshops to improve job skills and one-on-one appointments offered every weekday.
“We have hundreds of hours set aside just to see students, just to talk to them about their individual issues and what we can do to move them to their next step. To get from where they are to where they want to go next – because it’s a journey, it’s a process,” she said.
University Career Services helps all students regardless of major, but students can also find specialized resources at their individual professional schools.
David Vogel, director of career development and employee relations at Kenan-Flagler Business School, said his team begins working with admitted business school students from the time they’ve accepted their offer, and about 80 percent of students accept a full-time position by New Year’s Eve of their senior year.
“It’s not uncommon for our students to have four or five offers, and to be in a position where they have a number of options to choose from, and they tend to get their first choice,” Vogel said.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2016 Job Outlook survey, the top attributes employers seek on a candidate’s resume are leadership, the ability to work on a team and written communication skills.
Senior Marisa Breathwaite, a SPA student assistant, plans to take a year off to get an internship before going to graduate school. While she said she wished UNC offered more information on financial literacy, she said opportunities to lead on campus have helped prepare her for life after graduation.
“I feel like I’ve gotten so many great experiences from this University – I’ve gotten to travel, I’ve gotten to present at conferences, I’ve gotten to do public speaking – so I feel like I’m ready, personally,” she said.
Diane Lys, assistant dean of educator preparation and accreditation at the School of Education, said she encourages students to think about the talents and love of their content area they’ve gained while at UNC when considering where to be an educator. Like Vogel, she said employment data reflects significant alumni networking in job placement after graduation.
“I think there’s something in this network of being a part of Carolina alumni and having well-respected programs,” Lys said. “Carolina isn’t the largest program, but our graduates are in high demand, and I see that in the data.”
One of the fastest-growing means of networking is LinkedIn. According to the company, more than 97 percent of recruiters polled by Bullhorn used LinkedIn for recruiting in 2012. Vogel said the service helps business students set up crucial informational interviews to help learn about an industry and grow their network.
Lori Haight, career service coordinator at the School of Information and Library Science, also stressed the importance of informational interviews and said her program offers theoretical and practical approaches to emerging jobs to ensure students adaptability. She encouraged students to “weave their own narrative,” because no one’s career path is identical.
“Do not feel like it’s a sign of weakness to use the career services, we’re literally sitting on resources,” Haight said. “Make the most of the resources we have available so that you feel like you’re moving forwards towards whatever your goal is.”
A 2016 survey by Express Employment Professionals found 71 percent of recent college graduates stayed at their first job for less than a year. Regarding this trend, Vogel emphasized the importance of students picking industries that resonate with what they want to do, while understanding they aren’t expected to stay where they start forever.
“So go for your first choice but if you don’t get your first choice, it’s not the end of the world,” Vogel said. “There’s always opportunities to pivot and to reposition yourself in a different way after your first experience.”
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