The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


College graduates take degrees into real world

Despite its “bubble” image the SMU student body is adiverse bunch. However, we all have one thing in common. We willall, one day soon, leave campus and confront the same ominousprospect: getting a job.

What makes this venture seem more dismal than in previous years,is the fact that our expectations about the value of our collegedegree in the real world, may not be realistic.

Plus, students may be surprised to find that employers haveexpectations of their own-demands that students may not be preparedto meet.

As a college graduate in the 1980s and the early 1990s, it wasalmost assured that one would be able to obtain an entry-levelposition in their related field. Those times of assurance are longgone, and a bachelor’s degree will not take you as far as itused too. According to the National Association of Colleges andEmployers (NACE), US employers hired 36 percent fewer new collegegraduates last year. What happened to those days when companieswere overloading career centers with offers, and the famous springbreak recruiting trips done by firms?

Despite the lack of hiring done by employers in 2004, studentsat SMU still felt like a college degree meant a free pass.According to a recent survey, 26 out of 30 students felt that adegree in hand guaranteed them jobs. The way things are looking,the only guarantee is that graduate school applications will beplentiful.

Secondly, salary expectations and incentive packages aremisunderstood among most college students. This began with the boomyears of the late 1990s when graduates were lured into companieswith large signing bonuses and other incentives.

NACE reported that in year 2000, 30 percent of the companiesthey surveyed planned to use signing bonuses in their campusrecruiting. A more recent pole by NACE, reported that today, only 9percent of employers offer signing bonuses to all new graduatehires.

What this means is that employers don’t feel the need tosweeten job offers. “They believe they can attract topcandidates without having to offer something more,” reportedNACE. This means buying that new BMW might take a littlelonger.

While it seems that it’s not getting any easier forcollege graduates these days, here is some heads up advice aboutwhat employers expect.

First, experience is not an option it’s a necessity.Employers are no longer willing to lose time and money on longintensive training programs. So you ask, how do I gain thenecessary experience while in college to obtain a job aftergraduation? The answer is simple, internships.

By obtaining an internship, your chances of landing a job out ofcollege increase greatly. NACE reported that on average, 42.5percent of interns get full-time positions with the companies atwhich they intern. They also reported that companies consistentlyrank internships as the number one way to recruit and hire newcollege graduates.

Secondly, communication skills are extremely important forcollege graduates entering the workforce. These skills include theability to express one’s thoughts both efficiently andeffectively, following instructions, listening, conversing, andalso giving feedback. A study done by NACE showed that managersidentified and ranked competencies and characteristics theyconsider when hiring new college graduates.

They ranked written and oral communication skills first,followed by problem solving and self-motivation. The managers alsoexpressed the fact that written and oral communication need notonly be good but “superb.”

Thirdly, technology skills are a very big factor whendetermining new hires.

By skills, I don’t mean the ability to turn the computeron and off. You must have a working knowledge of basic Officeapplications like Word, Excel, Power Point and Access. Weatherit’s a liberal arts degree, business degree, communicationsdegree, or science degree, an efficient knowledge base of thesecomputer applications can only help your chances of landing thatfirst job.

Lastly, employers expect for new college graduates to haverealistic expectations.

According to NACE, often times students expect to start out inmanagement positions based on earning a college degree, andoverlook the fact that a college degree provides the individualwith the skills necessary to progress faster and further than aperson without a degree.

However, there are no guarantees. It is important to realizethat there is no such thing as immediate value to a company.

You have to be willing to start at the bottom and work your wayup. However, keep in mind that just because you start at the bottomdoesn’t mean you have to stay there.

All of the challenges and obstacles we face and conquer as westrive to reach the so-called, “Real World” only leadus to more challenges and obstacles. After graduation, you mightfind that your hardest challenge thus far is finding a job.

The key to overcoming this challenge is to prepare yourselfearly, which will allow you to meet the expectations of employerswith confidence and assurance. That means developing strongcommunication skills, learning up to date computer applications,determining self worth realistically, keeping your expectations incheck and gaining as much experience as you can throughinternships.

Life after college can be scary. Therefore, it is imperativethat we establish an undergraduate background that exceeds theexpectations of future employers. By doing this we’ll notonly find out that the transition from college to the, “RealWorld” is not as scary as it seemed, but also ourexpectations might not be so unrealistic after all.

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