I am not one to hold by “statistics” as the saying goes, “Statistics, statistics and damn lies” so instead of referencing statistics about college grads and job opportunities, I am going to use my references instead.
As a professor for the last 13 years, I always ask my students about their work experience. It is part of my introductions that I go over in my first class and then I build off of this information to weave in stories and to ask student participation – such as, “Joe, you said you worked at Bank of America – what do you think they do for this financial thing…” etc etc.
I would say somewhere around year 7 of my teaching career, the work experiences got less and less. Or they got more and more local – so think more Modell’s employees and restaurant type jobs than high finance and the like.
When this happened, it became harder and harder to incorporate my students’ real life work experiences to my stories and instead I had to rely on my career experiences to kind of show them the way instead of relying on their peers to do it.
Now, I am at a point where I also ask my classes how many of their peers have real full time jobs after graduation. You remember when we were in college, we all knew students who went before us and we kind of knew where they wound up which was often in NYC at a firm of some sort – I mean EXCEPT for the Communications majors who more often than not wound up stuck in retail. (I am not bagging on Communications majors as a whole and I do think a lot has changed in that major but back in the late 1990’s when I was graduating college, few of those majors found jobs.)
Today and over the last few years the amount of my students who know people who landed full time jobs in Corporate America is less and less. So for a class of 30+ students maybe 6 of them know people who have landed “real” full time jobs.
What do I mean when I say “real” full time jobs? I mean typical entry level corporate America jobs – across any industry. Instead, most of them say their older friends are basically underemployed for their college degree level of education.
I think a lot about why this is. I mean, on the one hand, we had a massive financial crisis from about 2008-2010 which really impacted those years of graduates AND the older employees who tried to weather the storm. Then we have the wave of immense increases in technology (Technology Takes the Jobs) which has led to there being less opportunity for many people, not just my sample size of college students and their peers.
There is also the very real issue of the skills that are just not quite there – more and more of my students over the past few years are in no way prepared for professional life. I do my part across a semester to give them the crash course and it is really why I wrote The Book on Career Readiness so that students can be more prepared to at least give it their all as a professional and not just as a college student who is too green to be hired.
I have put the onus on myself as the Prof to help train my students to be ready for corporate experiences – to know how to act during an interview, to avoid being pegged as a “typical millennial” and all of the negative stereotypes that come with that (always on the phone, not able to communicate etc). Having a book and training programs to go with it now with my company is just the natural next step for me and my business.
I look forward to continuing to teach people how to be ready for their next steps and to prove my sample and extrapolation of data for this borough wrong – join me on my journey as I do this! Happy Hunting!
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Lisa Vento Nielsen