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By Derek Dissell, a current student at Cleveland State University
The opening question of the recent town-hall presidential debate offers a learning experience on student employment post-graduation and the best ways to properly position for a career.
“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”
Jeremy basically asked what is known as a loaded question here—- he makes the assumption that there will be little chance to get employment while no t certifying it fact. As I have learned in class, a question like this is bound to be poorly answered, as it was during the debate.
Governor Romney spoke of his efforts in Massachusetts—- a free-ride scholarship for students graduating in the top quarter of their class— as well as resuscitating the economy and expanding the loan and pell grant programs. He ended with the common refrain of creating jobs.
President Obama spoke about restoring manufacturing jobs, expanding student loans and the role of community colleges, becoming energy independent, and rebuilding infrastructure.
Neither answer should be satisfactory to the college student faced with the crippling uncertainty of job market prospects. Romney’s plan talks about getting students to college while Obama’s plan spoke of fields that had little to do with Jeremy, an exercise-science major.
If I was to be asked that same question, I would give a much more pointed answer:
“Jeremy, for starters, the unemployment rate for college graduates ages 25-34 is 4 percent, compared to roughly 14 for people of the same age without a college degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median income difference between the two was $20,000.
Jeremy, the notion that you need government to help you find employment, considering the data above, is unwarranted. You have the agency to make a great future for yourself, and here is how you, and other people that will be in your shoes, will do it:
Work like your life depends upon it in high school, because it literally does. Just like the difference between have a diploma and a college degree, going to the right university will make a difference in how much you earn and your chances at employment. If you do well in high school, college will also be cheaper.
Meet everyone you possibly can and develop relationships as genuine as possible. If they are older than you or one of the only ways to network is to be in settings in which you find yourself the youngest, be not afraid. These professionals will help you get a job, whether through recommendations, providing of knowledge, or through practical experience you can gain by working with them. The saying “it’s not what you know but who you know” does have a lot of validity.
If you can, major in something that involves a lot of science or math. Whether it is engineering, the medical field, or technology, you will both earn more and have better employment prospects if you can manage these fields.
And of final importance, make your potential career a daily part of your routine. Since you are an exercise science major, take the time to speak to trainers when you go to the gym. Give friends advice and see if they are seeing results. Follow the academic literature as you would your favorite TV show or sports team. Make exercise science not only a means to employment, but as an end-itself.”
If only Jeremy had been offered similar advice! But one last piece of wisdom, Jeremy: Don’t expect to come out knowing more or be helped by a political debate!