The 2nd Presidential Debate
The first question of last night’s town hall debate came from Jeremy Epstein, a 20-year-old college student, who voiced his concern about finding employment after graduation:
Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. Can — what can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?
Both candidates put forth these solutions: make college more affordable, and increase the number of jobs. The first solution seems sensible — making college more affordable means that more people will be able to receive a college education. But having that education doesn’t mean you’ll get hired.
Employers want candidates who are experienced and qualified, not in a classroom but directly in their line of work. Internships, part-time jobs, and campus organizations can help give students that work experience, in addition to meeting people and finding what career fields they like (or dislike).
Success in the classroom does not equal success in the job market. Students who eschew extracurricular opportunities to get the highest grades possible will be in for a rude awakening after they graduate because it’s not grades that get you a job — it’s experience.
Then there’s the second solution: increase the number of jobs. But will jobs increase in your field? If you want a job after college, you should research which fields are expanding. You should know what education is required for these fields, and how you could get as much experience as possible in these fields before graduating.
And if the fields that are expanding don’t seem to interest you, think about how you can apply your skills to those fields. Maybe a biochemical engineering firm needs a writer to write grants (I put this because I’m a writer, and just the term “biochemical engineering” scares the crap out of me).
The final thing I want to say — to Jeremy and to anybody who’s in college — is don’t count on Barack Obama or Mitt Romney to get you a job. Count on yourself to get a job by doing as much as possible during your college years to prepare yourself for a career.