(Kyle Rozendaal and Emma Gilbertson)
As graduation approaches for college seniors, panic and anxiety often set in. The thought of finding a career can be unsettling or feel hopeless. According to a recent study by Pew Research, over 80% of the public believes that is is harder for young adults to find jobs today than it was for their parent’s generation. Rest assured though that there is hope for recent college graduates. A study by Millennial Branding in 2012 surveyed 225 employers and determined that 87% of employers were going to hire more 2012 graduates in 2012. Several personal stories can also testify the fact that recent graduates are getting jobs. For instance, millennials, Greg Shroka, Mike Placeway, and Lauren Caporaso, received awesome job offers to begin immediately after graduation.
Growing up with a father as an architect, Greg Shroka knew he wanted to be in construction and work as an architect someday. Dreams die, visions blur, but the determined hold strong! Greg held tightly to his childhood dream. Greg graduated in 2010 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) with an undergraduate degree in Architecture and a master’s degree in Civil Engineering. After graduation, he immediately started a job as Project Engineer at W.E. O’Neil Construction in Los Angeles. Greg worked on projects, including the Santa Monica Place Mall, Boeing Facilities, and the LAX airport.
Greg, also an All-American Track & Field High Jumper, got his job through a connection with his athletic director at the U of I. As it turns out, the CEO of W.E. O’Neil Construction played football at the U of I and was a good friend of Greg’s athletic director. The athletic director passed Greg’s name along to the CEO, and Greg was offered an interview with the company.
Previously, Greg had interned at several companies in his field. Greg would recommend that students looking to get a job after college have an internship or a summer job to gain experience. Also, Greg emphasized the importance of getting good grades in all classes in order to increase job options. In college, the most important thing Greg learned was, “There is a whole lot more out there than you realize.” So graduates, stay encouraged. There is hope for the future. Dream jobs are possible!
Like Greg, Mike Placeway, a 2012 college graduate of Wheaton College, found a job directly out of college. Mike spoke out about his success in finding a job teaching Spanish at Wheaton Academy, a private Christian academy in West Chicago. He never thought he would end up as a teacher; both of his parents taught at some point in their lives so it was a thought he always pushed aside. As a junior in college, after helping teach a middle school math class, Mike decided he loved teaching. “Find something you want to do and go after it.”
Mike advised that college students looking for post-graduation jobs should find something that they really enjoy doing. Even if it doesn’t last your whole life, do it now. “The world is so busy, it’s hard to focus on one thing in the world that is so busy. We try to hold onto that one voice in a world of yelling people. Even if you find things that you definitely do not want to do, you’re just getting closer to the things you truly want to do in life. And in reality, this world it isn’t about what you know as much as who you know in finding a career. Having connections can get you jobs, especially right out of college.”
Mike is a rare case in which the hiring company came after him. After completing a pre-application in the spring of his senior year at Wheaton College, the principal of Wheaton Academy approached him. Upon completing the rigorous 36 essay question application, Mike was offered a job on May 30th, not even a month after graduation. Mike’s connection with someone who knew that the principal was looking for a Spanish teacher gave him a strong advantage in his job search.
In another instance, after graduation, Lauren Caporaso, a Wheaton College 2013 graduate, will be joining General Electric (GE) for their Financial Management Program. In this 2-year program, the curriculum is based on intensive rotationals, in-classroom education, mentoring, and real job experience. It is designed to help recent college graduates excel in the field of corporate finance.
Lauren emphasized the importance of networking connections; in fact, a connection helped Lauren to gain exposure to GE. However, her education prepared her for the intensive application and interview process required for hire. Furthermore, Lauren interned with GE twice in previous summers and greatly enjoyed her experiences at the company. Lauren advised students to identify their passion/interests and strengths as early as possible in their college career and to not compare themselves to other students.
Lauren gave words of wisdom and encouragement regarding the post-college job search to other millennials. “School work and job searching takes a lot of time and work. Sometimes God provides a job that seemingly just falls into our lap. Mine didn’t. I had several rejections from several companies when I was first applying for internships. So I would encourage you to work hard, yet trust that as you strengthen the gifts God has given you, that he will open doors for you, and that as you trust him, he will guide you through open doors, even if the job you get is not what you initially envisioned.”
Derek Thompson, a writer for The Atlantic, believes that it’s always a tougher for young people to get jobs, including college graduates. Nonetheless, the benefits of going to college are clear; bachelor’s degrees are worth the costs. College provides people with a better chance to get a job and earn more money.
(Photo thanks to
So if you are a recent graduate or still in college don’t sweat it. The future is bright and doors into your dream career are wide open giving you the opportunity to be the next Greg, Mike, or Lauren.