Earning degree only one part of job strategy now

Today’s college students must do more than simply earn a degree if they hope to find a solid first job after graduation, say career development professionals. 

Long before graduation, students must hone their skills in networking and conducting a successful job search.  By working with their school’s trained career development team, students can partner with trained professionals who offer invaluable guidance in not just finding a job but finding one that’s the right fit for the new graduate. 

“A university career center is uniquely positioned to help students and alumni with career decision making and job search skill development,” says Dusty Doddridge, director of MTSU’s Career Development Center.  “This type of professional support is free at most university career centers and is available at the critical time when students need help with career decisions and job search skill development,” he adds. 

For some career paths, jobs are plentiful for new graduates.  The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that, on average, more than 210,000 jobs for registered nurses will be available each year between now and 2028.  Accounting professionals have the next highest number of available jobs, with an average of 146,000 openings for the same time period. 

But for students in those fields, a wide array of available jobs doesn’t necessarily make them feel they can sit back and let their degrees do all the work for them.

“We learn how to use a wide variety of databases and assessment tools,” says Shelby Floyd, a second-year student earning a degree in nursing at the University of Memphis.  Floyd says these applications and tools help determine nursing students’ best individual career paths.  Her class of nursing students also take the Health Education Systems, Inc. exam each semester to determine how well they’ve developed critical thinking skills, which helps assess their specific strengths and the nursing path that suits them best. 

“It’s scary to think I’ll have the lives of patients in my hands in less than a year, but the support system in nursing school is unreal,” Floyd says.  “There are so many jobs in nursing beyond just floor nursing.  You can go into case management, leadership, nurse education, research – the opportunities are endless.”

Sophia Teap, an MTSU junior earning an accounting degree, is focused on networking and finding the right internship, which will hopefully lead to a solid job opportunity after graduation. 

“Right now, I’m applying for internships and going to events where I can meet with accounting firms and potential employers,” Teap says.  “I know that there will be many accounting jobs available after graduation, but there will be many other graduates applying for the same jobs.  But you get to gain experience through internships throughout college and it prepares you for your first job after graduation.”

Tien Nguyen, a senior who is also earning her accounting degree at MTSU, is applying similar career strategies. 

“I’m joining an organization called Beta Alpha Psi, which is an honor society for accounting,” Nguyen says.  “People from the big four accounting firms and from smaller firms come to our meetings and talk about recruiting.  By joining BAP, we have a better change to get an internship while in school and maybe a full-time job after graduation,” she says.

 

Tennessee’s latest unemployment rates, coupled with their individual career development paths, are an added piece of good news for Floyd, Teap and Nguyen, who wish to find jobs in Tennessee after graduation.   As of November 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveal that the state’s overall unemployment rate is 3.2%, which is slightly better than the U.S. average of 3.3%.  For the top 10 metropolitan areas across the state, the rates remain virtually unchanged from 2018’s rates.  Memphis’ unemployment rate saw the greatest increase between 2018 and 2019, which amounts to only a fraction of a percentage point.