Underqualified. Overqualified. Not enough education. Too much education. The Class of 2009 has heard it all and then some. Thanks to a weak economy and the highest unemployment in 26 years, many students are having a hard time securing positions in their chosen fields. CNN.com recently spoke with 12 college grads about their job prospects, and found that while teaching and medical positions are available, media gigs are at an all-time low. So what does that mean for you if you’ve just graduated or are preparing to enter the workforce in the next year or so? Here are some easy steps you can take to ensure you’re more marketable.
1. Diversify Your Internships
You can’t put all your focus on one specific field. Think of ways that you can get a into what you want to do that might not be as obvious – the front door isn’t the only way in. For example, if you’re a journalism major, explore opportunities in PR and marketing. I happened to graduate during the last big hiring freeze, and I ended up taking a job in PR KNOWING this would put me in direct contact with all the editors at my favorite magazines, newspapers, and websites. After building relationships with them, I finally broached the topic of freelancing. Within a year or so, I was working as an associate editor for a popular website.
2. Utilize Your College Career Services
Don’t just visit your Career Services office — make each and every person in there your best friend. These people are the gatekeepers to new job openings, hiring managers, and paid internships. They also might know alumni that specifically like to hire recent graduates (As an editor, I’ve often placed ads with NYU and Columbia when I was looking for an entry-level candidate). If that’s still not enough, consider applying for a position there. After all, there’s no better way to get a sense of what’s available.
3. Be Your Own Boss
Telecommuting, starting your own business, or applying for some specific certification are just some of the ways recent grads can make money and still pursure their career aspirations. No, these may not be your “dream” job, (one of the students profiled in the CNN article got her personal training certification to pay the bills), but it’s a job – period. For example, if you’re pre-law and can’t find a clerking job, become a notary and advertise yoru services locally for legal professionals (what better way to make connections with the people that WILL be hiring in the future?). Want to go into teaching? Offer your tutoring services online at places like Craigslist.org. Have dreams of working for a magazine or newspaper? Start your own freelance telecommunting business via companies like Elance.com (a website that allows you bid for writing, tech, marketing and PR projects across the country).
The job forecast might not be sunny, but for every cloud, there’s always a silver lining.