Can grads get jobs?

Posted by on July 21, 2012 at 4:24 am.

At Loyalist College in March, you can see students hurriedly move through the halls of the school, heading somewhere to do something. Summer is on their minds as they prepare exams, final projects and internship interviews.

Internships are particularly important, students are told, because they provide real job experience and a chance to network, even meet potential employers. For most programs, internships are mandatory in order to complete a program and receive a diploma.

Mention internships to graduating students and you will get a detached, worried look.

Many students are having difficulty finding a placement that will take them, even for free. Students who have found a placement are not always sure what will come next.

Shannon Storey, a photojournalist student, got an internship at a highly regarded Ontario newspaper but says she doesn’t expect a job to come from it. They just don’t need anyone right now.

No one seems ready to admit there is a problem.

Lyndsay Kerik is an employment and career advisor at the Loyalist College Career Centre. The centre offers students help in finding jobs and job search resources.

“The biggest thing we encourage students to do is early job search,” says Kerik. She also points out that 80 per cent of available jobs are not advertised on job boards. “We have lots of resources to assist students who aren’t necessarily good at networking.”

But if the proof is in the pudding, and that makes Kerik’s optimism hard to swallow.

Loyalist has compiled data, available on the college’s website, of graduates in the job market. Not all alumni weighed in. But of those who did, recent numbers are not encouraging.

In 28 of the 52 programs with statistics available between 2005 and 2009, the number of graduates working full-time in related fields went down in 2008 and 2009 compared to earlier years. That’s just a reflection of graduates who were ready to work. Those who chose to continue their education or not to seek employment were not factored into the statistics.

Among those 28 programs is radio broadcasting. In 2009 just 10 per cent of graduates who responded to the survey were working full-time in their field.

Steve Bolton, co-ordinator of the radio broadcasting program commented on the 10 per cent figure. He says the recession caused a blip in the system.

“2009 was the year of the financial meltdown,” says Bolton. “Industry was hit, which meant less money to advertise.  Radio was hit as well because of this.”

Chris Barnim is graduating from radio broadcasting this spring.

“It’s definitely a mix in our class,” Barnim explains. “There’s people who really want to be in radio but there are some going back to school for a fallback… you can make it in radio, but you have to work really hard.”

The school’s two councilors say that they rarely hear complaints from students about graduation anxiety. It only exists in very exceptional cases, where prior emotional problems exist.

But there’s nothing wrong with Barnim, who seems to be echoing the sentiment of a lot of students.

“Stress, a lot of stress,” says Barnim, describing how he feels about his prospects. “Stressing about the future, seeing if you can get a job, worried it’s not going to happen.” He also worries about the available salary. “I feel like I would make the bare minimum for the standard of living, just barely enough.”

Kerik says students may get discouraged by the jobs that are available to them.

“We get the angry students, [who say] ‘Why did I waste my time coming to college if I can’t get the job that I want?’ You have to start at the bottom and work your way up the ladder.”

Many students can’t find work because they don’t want to leave home.

“Students who are willing to pick up and move anywhere to find a job are the most successful,” Kerik explains. “When you want to remain local, there’s only a finite amount of higher employment opportunities that are relative to specific programs offered here.”


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