August 20, 2014

College graduates face hard work to find a job

A new crop of college graduates is heading into the workforce, and while the challenge of studying and taking tests is over, the new challenge of getting a job now looms ahead. Surveys show more than half of recent college grads are unemployed or underemployed.

Twenty-two-year-old Dennis Bowen just graduated with a history degree from the University of Northern Iowa, and is anxious about the next step. “I’m pretty nervous right now looking for a job. But I’ll be living with my parents for now, until I can save money,” Bowen says.

 Bowen isn’t afraid to get started right out of college in a job that doesn’t fit his degree. “I wouldn’t mind working retail for a while, or maybe, like, serving tables. Long term I really have no idea, and I think that’s what the scariest thing is,” according to Bowen.

The unemployment rate for the young and the educated is about 16% or twice as bad as the general unemployment rate. One way to avoid some of the scarier aspects of the job search is to reevaluate what you want to do.

For example, Pat Quinn wanted to become a music writer for Rolling Stone when he left Chicago to attend the University of Iowa. But he got interested in marketing — and after graduating last year — he became a marketing manager at the Technology Association of Iowa and ended up staying here.

“Yeah, I’m taking this, like, four-year vacation into the cornfields of Iowa, and then I’m going back to like, where all the other stuff is happening. And I think I just kind of saw that, I mean, Des Moines is just so much on the rise. Meteoric rise. And I don’t know if a lot of people cared to discover that,” Quinn says.

After he changed his initial plan, Quinn then worked three different marketing jobs on campus, which gave him some solid experience that helped land a job once he graduated. Iowa State University career coordinator, Tammy Stegman, says finding that first job isn’t impossible — it’s just harder.

“We’ll talk to students that say, I just can’t find a job, I’ve done everything I could, I don’t know what else to do. And I’ll say, how many jobs have you applied for? Three. Or, I’ve talked to 10 people in the last six months. So the thing that sets them apart is, how hard are they working,” Stegman says. Stegman says the key is to not give up if you don’t find a job right away.