Graduates Find Difficulty in the Job Market Despite Success in Classroom

As the calendar turns from April to May, SFA seniors work to put the finishing touches on their collegiate career. Caps and gowns are purchased and graduation invitations are mailed out as hundreds of Lumberjacks prepare to walk across the stage in the William R. Johnson Coliseum and begin their lives as college graduates.

For SFA alumna and Lufkin native Nicole Powell, graduation meant it was finally time to begin her professional career and move away from Deep East Texas. Graduating in December of 2010, Powell’s accolades had her on the fast track to finding a job in her field. Graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Finance, Powell appeared to have everything prospective employers looked for.

But the job market turned dry and left even the most qualified of college graduates without employment in the field of her choice. It happens every year as graduates struggle to begin their career because they lack one thing — experience. One of the most important partof any resume is work experience in the field. It is also arguably the hardest thing to acquire.

“I know that the only reason I’m not getting the chance at my dream job is because of my lack of experience,” Powell said. “I have the accolades and I am a hard worker, but employers always want a year or two of experience in the field and I don’t have that. I can’t even get it because every employer, it seems, requires it.”

Powell spends most days on LinkedIn, a social networking site for professionals to connect with peers in their field, while scouring the Internet and local newspaper ads for any sign of a financial analyst position, her job of choice. She then goes to her job in registration in the emergency room of Memorial Medical Center – Lufkin. Powell said that the process seems like a dead end, but she knows she must press on.

“Every day is the same,” Powell said. “Apply for jobs, look for jobs and hope to get a call back. The thing with LinkedIn, after a few days I’m competing against 50 or so people for one job. Many of those 50 have the golden ticket with some form of experience. Eventually someone will take a chance on me and I’ll make sure it was the best decision they ever made.”

Powell’s situation is felt by nearly 50 percent of graduating seniors. According to a study done by the  John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, only 53 percent of college graduates from 2006 through 2010 are holding full-time employment.

According to the study, the time a graduate enters the job hunt plays a factor not only in their search for a job, but also the amount of compensation the person will receive.

“On average, there was a 10 percent “penalty” for college graduates obtaining their first job during the recession, compared with those who entered the workforce just three years earlier,” the study stated.

With the economy appearing to be on an upward climb out of recession, job outlooks are starting to look better for Powell and other graduates. Powell has several interviews in the next few weeks that have given her newfound hope of finally landing that allusive first job.

“I have noticed that over the past month or so I have been contacted about employment far more often than in the past year,” Powell said. “Although I still do not have that experience that employers are looking for, I am getting closer and closer to acquiring it. I just have to stay positive and not get down on myself because there are thousands, if not millions, in the exact same situation as I am in.”

Interview with Nicole


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