To College Graduates Looking For Jobs: Stay Optimistic

I recently graduated with my B.S. Degree in Information Systems Security back in March of this year, and what a relief it was.  It was the end of long reports, long study sessions, and lab assignments.  For people who I knew during my tenure at college, it was about that time for them to look for that new job.

Somewhere during the final couple of months, or even after graduation, a fresh new graduate is filling out applications and sending out resumes in hopes to find a job within their field of study.  Unfortunately, due to the conditions of the current economic market, more and more college graduates are unable to find jobs in their acclimated field due to less hiring by companies and older, experienced workers vying for those same positions.

According to articles such as this one from USA today, employers are set to hire a higher percentage of college graduates than in 2009.  However, with the current unemployment rate at 9.7% according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fight for jobs is still going to be tough for most graduates, especially those without experience.

I personally know a couple a couple of graduates who graduated last year who went to graduate school because they could not obtain a job.  This makes me ponder the question:  Are college/universities doing enough to ensure students are prepared, or are students not making the best of their opportunities?  This question might need to be addressed in another blog post sometime in the future.

One thing that I will say right now to all college graduates currently looking for a job: Do not stress over the “statistics”, still go out and apply for jobs. What I mean by this is just because the news and the media are telling you that job opportunities might be slim pickings, do not hide in a ball and worry to death.  Still get out there and apply for the jobs you feel you are capable of obtaining.

In personal relation to this topic at hand, I will say that I am currently working in the field in Information Technology.  Back in 2007, I obtained my A.A. Degree in Network Information Systems.  Within less than two weeks of finishing school, I had a job within my field of study.  Yes, I understand that economic and job conditions have drastically changed since then, but some of the things that helped me back then can still apply to students graduating now.

Be Unique

With the increasing amount of people aiming for the same jobs as yourself, you must stay on top of the latest skills within your field.  For example, if your major is in Medicine, what are the current medical practices most needed?  If you are in the Information Technology field, what are current sought after technical skills?  If you can obtain a certification solidifying a needed skill, go for the test (and pass of course).  This tidbit of accolade could give you that needed push above the already stacked competition.

Remember: Stand out, don’t stand still.

Networking, Networking, and more Networking

I really don’t think I can stress this enough.  If you have sub-par social skills, I suggest you pick up some books, read some videos,  or socialize more often.  I know a lot of people within my field that were able to get their first jobs due to the people who already worked at the company of interest.  Some ways that you can build your professional network,

  • Conventions/Conferences pertaining to your field (NOTE:  make sure to develop/distribute business cards with your contact info.)
  • Job Fairs
  • Internet (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • Professional Organizations

Readable Resumes Returns Reliable Results

Please make sure your resume is legible and easy to comprehend.  I can’t tell you how many people I know have lost job opportunities due to an unreadable resume.  Proofread your resume…two and three times over.  Include keywords that pertain to the job that you’re targeting.

Hiring managers don’t have much time to waste.  Trust me:  badly composed resume = lost opportunity.

The one thing I definitely want to get across is that you must go out and seize the opportunity, or you’ll most likely be left in the dust.  Do not wait for a job to land in you lap regardless of your college achievements.  Most importantly, do not panic, stay optimistic.

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Schools Cheating to Get Ahead?

I was watching TV a couple of days ago and I saw a story regarding an elementary school and cheating test scores.  After further investigation, the school was George Washington Elementary School located in Baltimore, Maryland (my hometown).  Here’s an excerpt of the story below (full story can be viewed here). 

A Baltimore elementary school principal’s professional license has been revoked after officials found widespread cheating on state tests at her school.Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Andres Alonso and State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick said the test tampering occurred in 2008 at George Washington Elementary School. 

The 18-month investigation included a review of hundreds of test booklets that revealed a “pattern of erasures changing incorrect answers to correct,” according to a release from the city school system. The tests were taken by students in grades 3, 4 and 5. 

Further down the article, the drastic change in test scores from one year to another is explained 

“The district said the probe was triggered by the dramatic shift in test results from 2004, when reading scores were at 47.6 percent and math scores were at 67.9, to 2007, when reading scores soared to 100 percent and math scores went up to 98.9 percent.” 

Since I live in Baltimore and I hear about the constant struggles of the Baltimore City school system, this piece of news deals a significant blow to a failing school system.  I personally don’t understand what can be gained from teachers, or better yet the administration, changing answers on a state exam.  There can be a point made that the school can gain financially by the strength of excellent test scores with the likes of better funding. 

However, how do the kids gain anything from this?  Most kids will think that their answers are correct and that they understand the material being presented to them.  This is unfortunately not the case.  I thought that the focus was on teaching children, even if they were to make mistakes; not giving children false hope by secretly changing answers. 

The investigation led to then-principal Susan Burgess being stripped of her professional license.  There is one SMALL problem: Burgess retired in the spring.  Should Burgess be held responsible for the actions of the school teachers who changed the scores?  In my opinion, I believe so.  As the leader of George Washington Elementary, or any school for the matter, you are responsible for making sure nothing like this occurs.  You are responsible for keeping your faculty in line to prevent a catastrophic event like this. 

I would find it very hard to believe that the principal didn’t know anything about this going on at the time, so the excuse of her possibly not knowing is nonsense.  At the same time, who else should be held accountable?  Teachers? School Board? Parents?  Blame could be pointed to a lot of areas. 

I haven’t done any research on this same type of story being reported in other schools or states, but I believe that there’s a possibility of this happening elsewhere.  I just hope that this is a small rate of this actually happening, for education sake.