Are college students ready for the job market?

Most students are so involved with their academic work, that they give little thought to being prepared for employment.  Isn’t that really the goal, not the diploma, but the steady income, the beginning of a career?  In today’s competitive job market, unprepared students will have a whale of a time getting hired into jobs they want.  Students I have worked with who take time to plan for a career goal usually take steps to ensure they have more than a Bachelor’s or Master’s  degree when they leave school.  The smart students are getting quality internships at agencies and nonprofits, co-opting in the world of business, technology and the sciences, and arranging summer jobs.  A USA Today article demonstrates that even getting those opportunities does not mean you will get a job in today’s market, so those without the added experience have virtually no shot at good jobs:

Employment is not handed out to those with degrees.  Jobs are given to those with the best experience and a degree.  So getting yourself some professional references who can vouch for your reputation is essential.  Who would you hire if you interviewed 100 people :  the student straight out of college with a 4.0 and no experience, or the student who has work experience and good reference and that degree, regardless of the GPA?  Haven’t you all heard that it’s who you know, not whatpicture of job market recently you know?  But with this depression like economy, and the layoff of so many experienced workers, students are competing against those with a fuller resume and more job experience.  Zac Bissonnette of the Beast writes: “Is this The worst year to graduate from college?

No wonder that college students with disabilities are impacted.  How much more difficult is it for someone with a disability to obtain a job in the first place.  Yet, it is the lack of preparation that really places all students in the worst place for getting a good job.  The struggle is the same for all college students, and those who haven’t prepared for work and who have struggled to obtain their degree may not have the essential skills for getting that job.

Since the 1970s, the federal government has worked to improve the hiring of persons with disabilities. The fact is that the more severely disabled someone is, the lower chance they have of finding employment.  Yet, since the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, states have set up an agency usually called the Vocational Rehabilitation Program to help these individuals.  You may know of it by DOR, VR or other acronyms.  The point of the program is to prepare persons with disabilities for professional work. 

Now at many universities, an added benefit for students who are enrolled in the California’s vocational rehabilitation program, is campus program called Workability, which is funded by the state through the California State Department of Rehabilitation.  At four year universities, these programs are known as WAIV (WorkAbility IV).  Programs also exist for high school seniors, community college and trade schools. 

The WAIV program at Cal State University Los Angeles has been successful in helping to place students with disabilities into jobs in the greater Los Angeles area.  Being in a large metropolitan area has something to do with that success, but the dedication and efforts of the staff are a primary reasons students get over that transitional hurdle of getting from degree to career.

The WAIV program can help students who are seniors or in their last year of graduate work to be prepared for the job market.  Skills learned are job searching strategies, interview techniques, identification of internships, and resume development.  Staff help prepare students by performing mock interviews, by reviewing resumes and job developing.

Essentially any person with a disability may benefit from these additional services, but it depends on whether the state finds you eligible for services.  CSULA’s students with disabilities can meeting with our WAIV staff or call Department of Rehabilitation to find out about their eligibility requirements.   Students at other universities should contact their state rehabilitation program for WorkAbility or other vocation services that may be avaialble on their campus.You should do this when you consider going to college.  These state-funded programs often pay for tuition, books and fees and other essential college expenses. 

Related Story

Student sues Monroe college when she doesn’t get a job.  

The student states “It doesn’t make any sense: They went to school for four years, and then they come out working at McDonald’s and Payless. That’s not what they planned.”

 Job Outlook for College Graduates 2009  from the U.S.  Department of Labor states that in May 2008, the median annual wage for all workers was $32,390.  Read more to learn specifics.


3 Responses to “Are college students ready for the job market?”

  1. 1 mark1point0
    18/02/2010 at 4:17 pm

    Excellent blog, for scary times.

  2. 2 dawilliams
    19/02/2010 at 1:00 am

    If a college grad thinks getting a job in this horrible market is bad try being a handicapped person of color! This only compounds the situation. Historically minorities always do worse than non minorities in a economic crisis like the one this country is in now. The plus side if there is one is that people regardless of where they lie in this economic strata have the advantage of the media and history on their side. You are far less likely to repeat the mistakes of the past when you utilize these two tools.

    Realistically speaking things are going to get worse. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the government encourage the outsourcing of jobs and the importing of cheap labor. The cost of living has not gone down. This adds up to a gross erosion of the middle class. Soon very soon there will be only two classes of people. The rich and the poor.

    Those who are making money are not spending their money with the masses. They are hoarding it away and ripping it off via phony Wall Street scams. The middle class is being forced to squander what savings they have to keep themselves and their families afloat. Their resources are limited.

    What is needed is critical intervention. This situation that Obama inherited will take years to straighten out if its straightened out at all. Some people are standing up saying they will not be debt slaves to huge college debts they incurred while attending college and are unable to find a job to support themselves let alone their families and pay off a huge debt. Where this will all end is anybodys guess. Would anyone care to guess how this will all end?

    • 3 mark1point0
      19/02/2010 at 2:05 am

      With an emotional utterance – I venture guess, that’s how “this all will end.” It started out with one, after the doctor smacked that backside, and out went an untrained utterance. The difference is thinking got into the frame, but at the end as you put it; it could be a profane word in climax – so I heard. It could end in a daze, with no real thought at all, just pure expression as end. Between those two constants, however, are the times of life, and the times of choice. Is this a play on words? Maybe, but does that make it any less true? The saddest thing to bare witness, for me, and with no close second, is a spirit broken. You can tell sometimes, and the worse part of spotting it, is that sometimes the person doesn’t even know that their spirit is broken. They stop thinking, for one thing. The substitute which comforts the unchallenged mind is pity by way of equivocation rationale; “life is dumb, because dumb things are of life.” This fame of mind isn’t useless, it isn’t inferior, and it isn’t a reflex some people do while other don’t. On the contrary, Prose without doubt is the smartest expression humans produce, bar none. That said make no mistake, while it can relieve and highlight; chalking can also bring about escapism, and avoiding the broken. Chalking, rhetoric, prose – is the intervention. Marxism, the Koran, the King James Bible, Lena Horn, Sinatra – are all critical intervention providers Mr. Williams. But intervention is not how it ends, it simply reflects the start and the end of life. In this ride between that start and that end, that I choose, the “getting better” mindset, as it is more positive and less fearful than the “going to get worse” mindset. Why bother? I want it to get better, everyday, in every way. Terms and generalizations can be comforting while ducking out of thinking. There is another way, Mr. Williams, and leave it to college to field it: “Think big. Think bold. Rock black. Rock gold.” Find that light, and no matter what tomorrow brings with however many unfairnesses abound — to that “end” you will soar over it sir. Well, as I said; that’s my guess on endings.

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