Pat Doherty, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, added some thoughts to last week's column regarding the fact that 53 percent of college graduates under the age of 25 are not working in their field of study. Her thoughts were so on target that I want to share them.
Pat feels that an additional contributing factor to this problem is the lack of work experience graduates have in their field of study when they finish college.
"Simply put," Pat says, "get some work experience in the field you are studying while you are in college."
Even in fields that require special licensing, there are internships, volunteer opportunities and related jobs that do not require such licensure but are similar enough to make a difference to future employers.
Having work experience has become more critical in recent years as employers have a much larger pool of job applicants than in recent history. Imagine a choice between an applicant who just graduated with some successful work experience along with their degree and one that has no work experience in their field.
Successful work experience shows future employers that you are more likely be successful on the job.
Work experience in your field of interest also has the added benefit of ensuring you will enjoy that type of work once you graduate. I have talked to hundreds of college graduates over the years who do not like the work their college education prepared them to do.
Many graduates loved their field of study, but did not consider what jobs those studies would prepare them for and they had not really considered if they would love doing those jobs.
I remember loving to study mathematics in college. In fact, I majored in math for three years and was actually pretty good at it.
During my senior year, however, I could not come up with a single job that I thought I would enjoy doing in the field of mathematics, so I changed my major. That thought process saved me from a career that I would not have enjoyed, even though I loved studying the field of mathematics.
Thankfully, I ended up obtaining my degree in psychology and had the opportunity along the way to work in a job where psychology was an important part of my responsibility. Even though my education was extended by two full years, I was grateful that I had made that change in my major field of study before I graduated and realized I didn't like the specific jobs available in that field.
It is still important to know how many jobs will likely be available in your field upon graduation, as was covered last week in this column. That labor market analysis is a must.
Added to this, however, is the importance of having some meaningful study-related work or volunteer experience along the way.
Ron Campbell has worked extensively in the job preparation and job search industry. He can be reached at 801-386-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.