As graduation approaches, many students have questions about their future and what they can and should be able to expect after graduation. With the long list of preparations needed for graduation, it can be easy to forget what to plan next.
“If you are transferring, hopefully you have prepared ahead of time – before you’ve begun school, or at least in your first or second semester,” says MaryEtta Chase, Salt Lake Community College Registrar. “Because it’s hard to go backwards and plan after you’ve graduated. It’s easier if you’re already thinking ahead.”
Many SLCC graduates will be transferring to another institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree, while the rest will be going into the workforce.
“Most students who are planning on transferring to a different institution are usually a year ahead so they know what classes they need to take,” says Chase. “But if you haven’t done all that, it’s not like there’s no hope. You would still want to check with the schools and apply there and make sure that as much transfer credit can go there as possible.”
For those students who are transferring to another institution, the steps are fairly straight forward, but for those graduates jumping into the workforce, the path may not be as clear.
Over the last few years, millennials have had more challenges securing employment after graduation than the generations before them. The Gallup Daily Tracking report last June showed a steep decline in employment rates among new college graduates nationwide.
Since then, however, the economy is on the rise, and the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an improvement in unemployment rates among college graduates, especially those with bachelor’s degrees or higher. Even without a four year degree, unemployment rates among graduates with associate’s degrees are still half of what they are among high school graduates with no college education.
“The job market has improved dramatically over the last year,” says Jack Hesleph, director of Career and Student Employment Services at SLCC. “We recently had a job fair here at SLCC on the April 16 and we had 88 employers here looking to hire our students.”
Graduating from college isn’t a guarantee that students will find work, and some job markets are very competitive, even though unemployment rates in Utah are down, according to the Utah State Employment Update.
Utah’s unemployment rates are over 2.5 percent lower overall than the rest of the country and improving at a rate that is almost two times faster than the national average, so SLCC graduates have good reason to be hopeful, especially if they have planned ahead and are well prepared.
According to Hesleph, in today’s tough job market, just having a plan isn’t enough.
“Planning is one thing, taking action is another,” says Hesleph. “Now is the time to do it. If you wait until late May and June, employers are making plans right now for hiring and some of those jobs will begin in the summer and they’ll decide in the fall who they’re going to keep.”
The SLCC Career and Student Employment Services are doing everything that they can to ensure that graduates have success in finding a career after graduation.
“Graduates are eligible for our services for up to one year after they last attend classes here at SLCC,” says Hesleph. “We think that graduates should prepare themselves as soon as possible because getting employment in some areas can be challenging and certainly will be competitive. The sooner they get in and work out their resume and their job search skills with one of our employment specialists, then they’ll be prepared to go out and begin to compete for employment out there.”
Currently, Career and Student Employment Services has plans for a big career workshop titled “Congratulations on Graduating . . . Now What?” that is geared specifically toward SLCC students who are graduating this spring.
“Shortly after they graduate they will be invited to attend a job skills workshop to talk about what’s next as far as getting employment is concerned,” says Hesleph. “The workshop will cover everything from the job search to information about different career fields and who’s hiring in those career fields and what jobs are presently available in those career fields.”
Career and Student Employment Services are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and has many online services immediately available in addition to those available in their offices. Online resources include job listings and videos on how to improve a resume, write a cover letter or prospecting letter and job search strategies. For more information on office locations, workshops and online resources available, see SLCC Career and Student Employment Services online.
For students planning to transfer, there is a calendar of events, including SLCC Transfer Days, which brings recruiters and advisors from Utah universities to campus, giving SLCC students an opportunity to speak to advisors from several Utah universities. A full schedule of transfer events can be found on SLCC’s Academic Career and Advisement site.