Why many of my students will not have a job upon graduation


By Jessica Rogers, {grow} Contributing Columnist 

If you have made any kind of a career change in the past decade, more than likely you did not find your new position through a job fair or want ad. Yet, this is how many of my college students expect to find a job this spring when they graduate. Surprised? Read on.

One of the most aggravating experiences I have as a teacher (at two different universities) is the lack of ambition demonstrated by students today and the almost total absence of a professional networking presence on the social web.

Sure everybody is on Facebook, but marketing undergrads are simply not utilizing social media platforms like LinkedIn and blogging to their full potential for business purposes. Last week, I conducted a non-scientific study on LinkedIn use among my undergraduate students and an underwhelming 10% of my students have a LinkedIn Profile! Note students are traditional and non-traditional undergrads, working and non-working, and a mix of majors.

However, nearly 90% mention “Job Fair” and/or “want ads” as a way they will find a career/job. Really?! So the big plan is to sit back for 4 years (or however long you intend to take courses), and then go to a job fair in hopes of finding your dream job?! Dream on. These students need to be proactive and take control of their careers.

Use your college years for more than beer pong

Just imagine the possible connections you could make through the social web during your college years.

If I had this opportunity when I was an undergrad I would have taken that social media bull by the horns. Instead, I spent my college career working for various companies gaining work experience through internships and finally during my senior year I browsed magazines looking at advertisements to pick businesses I would like to work for. If there was a mailing address anywhere on the page, I mailed my resume there. I did my research, mailed resumes all over the U.S., and networked however I could, but this was time consuming and a bit random to say the least.

Fast Forward to 2013! Students should be using the technological resources available to you to prepare for the job search before graduation and then again to finally cast that net for a job.

How about getting to work?

This is still a tough job market but there are certainly jobs out there for ambitious young graduates. But it’s not just going to be handed to you because you have a decent GPA and attended a job fair.

Employers want to see what you can DO, how you add value NOW, and that is best demonstrated through internships.

What about interning, getting involved in student chapter of industry groups (on and offline) and showing some ambition and drive! Show me (and your future employer) that you give a damn about your “career goals.”

There is no excuse to not be building a relevant portfolio of work while you are still in school, whether it is a paid internship, volunteering at a business or charity, or demonstrating leadership with a student organization. This work can also help you build new connections and specific industry knowledge that can help your employment outlook,

Set your self apart from the competition by showing a bit of enthusiasm and gumption.

Get cracking.

I addressed this topic on my own personal blog a year and a half ago and I share that post each term with my Marketing students. No matter how much I emphasize the importance of building personal brand and gaining experience, it doesn’t seem to be sinking in,

Even after my exhortations, a VERY small percentage do anything more to take control of their “Personal Branding” activity by the end of the term. If I read one more paper on how a Job Fair and Monster.com is going to fit right in with their “career goals” I will literally puke. That is just lazy.

At a minimum, before you graduate you should …

Have a complete LinkedIn profile, including multi-media, testimonies, noteworthy projects, and an active, relevant network

Have a personal blog about your career goals and aspirations. In fact every job-seeker should blog.

Demonstrate that you can create content, promote it, and build an audience

Have at least two work experiences relevant to your employment goals

I rant because I care.

There are several career paths that pretty much demand a social presence in my opinion. Social Media Marketing, Journalism, PR, and Communications … to name a few. If you are not online showcasing skills and interest, you are effectively sabotaging yourself. Do not think that you do not know enough people to make an effective network. You do, it will start small and grow over time. Stop making excuses. Get involved, Do the work.

By the way, if you have a great success story of how LinkedIn, blogging, or other social media platforms have opened doors for you, please share with a comment. I would love to shares these real life scenarios with my classes!

jessica rogersJessica Rogers is a Dallas-based Adjunct Marketing Instructor at Texas A&M University- Commerce and faculty member at Southern New Hampshire University. She is currently working on her PhD in Business with an emphasis on Marketing; her dissertation research is focused on Social Media. Follow her on Twitter and her blog. Views expressed are of the author and do not represent those of my employers.

 Illustration courtesy of BigStock.com

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