Should UNL graduates seek employment or attend graduate school?


With one of every two college graduates either jobless or underemployed, should University of Nebraska- Lincoln graduates be worried about finding work?
Photo and story by Kristin Bauer

On May 5, 2012, a record number of students will receive diplomas from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with approximately 2,838 degrees to be granted. But how many of these students will find employment after they cross the stage?

According to an analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press, half of college graduates are either jobless or underemployed.

As an alternative, students often choose to attend graduate school to ensure a stable job. Last semester, nearly 25 percent of UNL graduates of indicated they would attend graduate school.

Tony Chase, senior chemistry major at UNL.

Tony Chase will be like these students. Chase, a senior chemistry major at UNL, plans to attend Purdue University in the fall.

“I’m not worried at all about finding employment after grad school,” Chase said. “I will have a very strong degree from a very strong program.”

Chase started his search in November and selected Purdue University out of five other choices.

Although Chase looked at graduate school as a must, not all students feel this way. Some students decide to continue their education after exploring the job market—like David Driscoll, a recent graduate from Wayne State College.

Driscoll is in his second semester as a graduate student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

After graduation, Driscoll sought employment in Sports Management, but ended up in a position he was overqualified for.

“I worked at a gas station for a summer that I really didn’t like so that kind of cemented the idea of going to grad school,” Driscoll said.
He decided to continue his education while interning at the University of Northern Colorado.

“I knew that if I stopped going to school I would never want to come back,” he said. “After doing some research on executives in the industry, I realized that most people had a post graduate degree.”

Despite his added education, Driscoll is still concerned about finding employment.

“It’s something I think everyone worries about,” he said. “It can be hard to give yourself an advantage, which is why I am in grad school.”

In contrast, Driscoll’s brother Dennis decided to immediately enter the workforce. Dennis Driscoll, also a graduate from Wayne State College, has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. He’s currently employed at the Kearney Hub in Kearney, Nebraska.

“It’s all about moving slowly up the chain,” Driscoll said. “I started at my hometown newspaper, and got hired on at the Hub shortly after that. My ultimate goal is the Denver post.”

So should UNL graduates that are not planning on attending graduate schools be worried about finding employment?

Graduation services is also a resource available for graduates, located in 109 Canfield Administration Building South.

Despite the low national average, Larry Routh, director at Career Services, says the job market has been improving for UNL graduates.

“We are kept quite busy year in and year out,” Routh said. “The last two years (during the recession), we would see students giving up quickly. This year, we are seeing less of that.”

Routh says he can see the improvement in employment by to the number of job listings Career Services receives. In February 2010, there were approximately 265 job listings. This year that number has increased substantially to 579.

“In terms of overall employment, Nebraska is one of the best states in the union to begin,” he said.

Nebraska currently has a four percent unemployment rate, which is more than half the national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.

“Even the climate in the surrounding states is still better than the east coast,” Routh said. “I would generally say UNL grads are pretty lucky.”

UNL Career Services functions as a resource for students looking for tips on creating resumes, interviewing for jobs and public speaking.

It’s there to help students that may not understand the importance of a solid resume, which Nikki Brant, Sr. Technical Recruiter for Client Resources, Inc, says is the most important part of applying for jobs.

“We as consumers look at advertisements all day telling us what to buy or what service to use,” Brant said. “Think of your resume as the advertisement and sell yourself, prove you are amazing and have exactly what the employer needs to be successful.”

Brant has been specializing in recruitment for eight years, in both corporate and staffing environments. She currently specializes in IT recruiting and staffing. She has worked for companies in the past that make a point to hire a set percentage of recent graduates each year.

“Large employers especially will look for grads that are willing to work at any of their locations due to their desire for the next adventure,” she said. “Companies will offer complete training to entice recent grads to gain experience and travel the country.”

Even though Brant said resent graduates are often passed over for those with more experience, she also said many companies find value in hiring recent graduates because of their fresh ideas, enthusiasm and motivation to succeed.

“It’s not easy, but if grads present themselves well on a resume, several companies will take that second look to see what you have to offer and how you can benefit them by being on their team.”