Getting a degree is an accomplishment, but getting the right degree to get a job right away is the winning formula.
Although the job market for today’s grads has improved, career counselors say college major choices are critical. So are summer internships and part-time jobs during college.
“You want to build up a résumé that shows real-world experience as well as degrees,” says Dawn Fay, New York district president for the Robert Half staffing firm. Internship is part of that real-world experience, she adds, and is becoming more popular with those hiring.
This year’s intern offer and acceptance rate is above pre-recession levels, says the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
“This is important,” NACE says in a release, “because from an employer perspective, higher offer rates generally are indicators of a more robust college hiring market.”
A Federal Reserve Bank of New York report shows high employment rates for college graduates majoring in accounting, special education and agriculture. The overall unemployment rate for recent college grads is 5 percent, according to the Fed.
Fay notes that those grads with business administration and technology knowledge have degrees that are in demand.
Nevertheless, just choosing a major based on the field in demand doesn’t guarantee success, notes Matt Stewart, an entrepreneur and co-founder of College Works Painting. His firm provides students with internships that are designed to lead to full-time positions.
Stewart and others say that overall numbers don’t tell the entire story. Even in good fields, they say, a college graduate can still face big hurdles without proper preparation.
Stewart worries that many young people are shielded from the real world. “Some parents tell them just to go to school and get good grades, forget about work for now,” he says.
“Then,” adds Fay, “they come out of college and are shocked by the real world. They have trouble adjusting to the work world.”
This, says Stewart, shows students should think carefully about choosing a major.
“There’s no question that your field of study significantly alters your prospects, but even having chosen the right field is no guarantee,” Stewart says.
Fay’s advice: Choose a major that you love, but also find out what work prospects are in that field.
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