A few years ago, graduating college would have signified the moment a student enters the workforce. However, the current economy is halting students in their tracks on their way to career success. Keeping a job is difficult enough, but finding one at the moment is even more troublesome. Bloomsburg University students, from freshmen to seniors, are feeling the impact of the recession like a weight hanging on their shoulders.
This past January proved to be one of the worst months of the recession, which began in December 2007. According to the NY Times, nearly 600,000 jobs disappeared in January alone. The unemployment rate has risen to 7.6 percent, which is up from 7.2 percent from the previous month.
This is the time of year when seniors begin looking into careers or applying to graduate school. However, the failing economy is heavy on their minds. There are less jobs available, especially at entry level. As if graduate school was not already expensive enough, tuitions around the country are increasing. In addition, college graduates are finding that an increasing number of career tracks are now requiring graduate school, when they may not have been in the recent past.
Chris Johnson, a senior at Bloomsburg and a Community Assistant (CA) in Elwell Hall, admits he is feeling the pressure of the economy. He is a sociology major and plans to attend graduate school after graduating from Bloomsburg. “Hey, we’re already in a bad economy,” Johnson says, “I might as well take out another loan.”
When the economy began going south, Johnson thought ahead on how to save money. “That’s one reason why I became a CA,” Johnson says. For being a guide and role model for other students, he receives free room-and-board in the residence halls as well as biweekly checks.
Carol Barnett, Director of the Career Development Center located in the Student Services Center says, “Students are often concerned about job hunting, whether the economy is good or bad.” But she admits that the job market has become “tougher” since the economy has been slipping. Students Barnett meets with are more afraid of the unknown than anything else. Graduating college and finding a serious job is something they have never experienced before. Life after university life is often referred to as “the real world” and this term can be intimidating.
Think of it this way: In order to get hired, a position needs to be available. For this to happen, an employee has to leave that position. And for an employee to leave a current job, there needs to be another job open for them to go to. The entire job market has a trickle-down effect.
Barnett advises that students need to find more creative ways of employment, such as expanding their job search geographically as well as industrially. Instead of being headstrong about working near their home, the recession may call for students to open their minds to other places several cities, even states, away. Students should even be open to working in different fields of their major.
Most students fresh out of college have much less experience in their field of interest than do people who have been working at it for years. Consequently, students may want to become interns or accept a temporary position before searching for a long-term job. That way, when they do begin looking into jobs, their experience will get them hired more easily. “Do I think it’s serious? Yes,” Barnett says. “ But I do believe everyone will end up fine.” Patience is an important piece in looking for a job. Becoming unnecessarily stressed is unhealthy, especially in a situation where the economy is at fault, not the student.
Underclassmen are feeling the pressure as well. Although not as profound, it is unsettling to a freshman just entering college. Being away at college and independent from any parent figure for the first time can be daunting. Now along with the recession comes the distress of handling a bank account.
Theresa McInaw, a freshman, is struggling to keep money in her wallet. “I’m living off the money I made at my summer job,” She says, “The price of everything is increasing as the money in my bank account decreases. I try not to waste money on things I don’t need, but it’s tough to adjust to.”
The recession has been preying on people of all ages, and college students are definitely feeling the pressure. Between worrying about the job market after graduating, and paying for increased tuition and living expenses, Bloomsburg University students are concerned and hard pressed for cash. It is important to remember to try to relax and be patient because you are not the only one struggling. The guy behind you at Starbucks and the girl on the treadmill next to you are worrying about the same thing.