Life After College: What To Expect

After earning your degree, life is assumed to be smooth sailing: get a job, finally earn a salary, and contribute to the workforce. Unfortunately, for some graduates following those steps is proving to be harder to execute than anticipated.

According to Mara Swan, the vice president of global strategy and talent at Manpower Group,

 There’s always been a gap between what colleges produce and what employers want.

A study from The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce released in May 2013 found that the overall unemployment rate of recent college graduates is 7.9 percent. The study considered college graduates earning bachelor degrees between the ages of 22 and 26 years old.

According to the study, unemployment rates of college graduates varied greatly between majors ranging from a high of 12.8 percent for architecture, to a median range of 7.9 percent for business majors, to 5 percent for those who studied elementary education and even lower rates for those studying agriculture and health sciences.

In search of what expectations for the real world should include, I asked a few recent college graduates who have successfully landed jobs about their educational experiences and what they are doing now.

First I spoke with Shannon Meier, a recent graduate of Chico State University.  Here’s what she had to say…

What was your major?

As an undergraduate I majored in Liberal Studies, and minored in Child Development and Special Education. I also recently completed my Preliminary Multi-Subject and Mild/Moderate Education Specialist teaching credentials.

What classes helped you/prepared you for your career?

The classes that helped me best prepare for my career were the ones that gave me authentic exposure to the field. For example, as a future teacher I spent a significant number of hours observing and assisting in classrooms with diverse populations. My own college coursework supported these experiences with instruction in lesson planning, behavior management strategies, and collaboration. During class meetings, my classmates and myself had opportunities to share, reflect, and offer one another solutions. The courses that helped me the most were the ones I felt were immediately relevant and realistically applicable.

What classes do you wish you took?

I wish that I took more classes in the areas of culture, language, and religion because I work with people whose backgrounds vary so greatly. I also would have liked to take more elective classes in subjects that interest me, such as Art History, Photography, and Astronomy, but felt with the cost of tuition that I had to limit myself to classes required for my major and minors.

What are you doing now?

I am an Elementary Resource Specialist Teacher (RST) at a small, country K-8 school.

What are two important lessons you took away from college that are helping you to be successful now?

One of the main lessons I took away from college is the importance of finding something you love. The work you put in is worth it if the outcome leads to being marketable, and subsequently, becoming a part of a field you’re excited about. A second key lesson is making the most of the connections you make. You never know who is watching, and where your relationships with the people around you can lead. When I interviewed for the job I have now, my official references gave me a good word but so did others, particularly a teacher I worked with whose mother-in-law worked at the school I had applied to. Those informal references can make all the difference.

Next, I spoke with Tess Alekna, a recent University of California Davis graduate.

What was your major?

I majored in Economics and minored in Psychology.

What classes helped you/prepared you for your career?

The classes I took at Davis that best prepared me for my career were Economics of Education and Accounting, although they were also the hardest classes I took.  The calculus series is also very important for basic math understanding.

What classes do you wish you took?

I wish I studied or minored in writing or journalism.  I will write for the rest of my life and it’s applicable to any profession so I wish I spent more time perfecting it.

What are you doing now?

I am an analyst at a financial company in San Francisco.

What are two important lessons you took away from college that are helping you to be successful now?

Don’t think it will all happen without hard work, enjoy college and time with friends but also plan for the future.  Use college as a time to make sure you’re doing what you want to be doing.  Nothing compares to hard work and nothing looks better on a resume!

The following two tabs change content below.
Heidi Meier

Heidi Meier

Heidi Meier is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing degrees in communication and psychology. At school, Heidi can be found participating in psychology experiments or lounging on the quad. Outside of school, she enjoys exploring new cities, adventuring with friends, and playing with her puppy, Pancake.
Heidi Meier

Latest posts by Heidi Meier (see all)