February 27, 2024

College students usually want to work in a job that is related to the degree with which they graduate. But for about three in four graduates, that is not reality.

Especially with the perceived necessity of a college degree, graduates can end up frustrated and overwhelmed when they cannot find work in the area that they spent four years and thousands of dollars completing. Acquiring work before graduation is more important than ever in ensuring job security down the line.

Laura Acosta, associate director of California Baptist University’s Career Center, said it is her passion to help students find jobs that not only fit their degree but also what they love.

Acosta said students can leverage their own experience with a working knowledge of companies on their radar, but forming a network to navigate that process makes all the difference.

“It’s never too early to start networking – most jobs are found through networking,” Acosta said. She added that only 1 in 200 resumes will land a candidate a job compared to 1 in 12 informational interviews.

At CBU, quarterly career fairs look to create networking opportunities between students and employers, many of whom are alumni looking to recruit.

Mathias Scarano, sophomore industrial and systems engineering major, said attending career fairs is essential to establishing connections and practicing for future interviews.

“Getting experience like this is great for getting out of your comfort zone and networking in general,” Scarano said.

A CBU career fair in February landed him an interview with an engineering firm looking for summer interns. However, that process was later halted by the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Much like the 2008 financial crisis put a sudden halt to job markets, the current climate has resulted in layoffs and hiring freezes. But people still need jobs, and competing with future waves of applicants means finding a secure position is critical as ever – without much of the core means of networking.

This time, however, job seekers have a new tool at their disposal: online networking. Although it can never reach the same in-person connection, apps such as LinkedIn allow users to present their professional selves to employers in a more personalized manner than a simple black-and-white resume.

Michael Bailey, senior business administration major, said his use of the networking platform helped guide him to getting his dream internship at the smart mapping company ESRI. While growing more than 2,000 connections, Bailey said he learned how to effectively use virtual networking skills to his advantage.

“You can find the posts (employers) like, their connections and their job history, then craft your image to make yourself an attractive candidate,” Bailey said.

As with any form of networking, both Acosta and Bailey agree that commitment is ultimately the deciding factor in getting hired for the job, one that is both utilizes their degree and is genuinely fulfilling.

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