The days of going straight from college into your career job are over. But the days of paying off college loans are not. Some recent grads are finding ways to pay those bills and beef up their credentials in anticipation of the time when the job market thaws.



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The days of going straight from college into your career job are over. But the days of paying off college loans are not. Some recent grads are finding ways to pay those bills and beef up their credentials in anticipation of the time when the job market thaws.

 
     For most, the days of going straight from college into your career job are over. But the days of paying off college loans are not. Some recent grads are finding ways to pay those bills and beef up their credentials in anticipation of the time when the job market thaws.
    Sarah Bennett of Stark County is a 2008 Kent State University grad with a degree in journalism and experience as an intern at washingtonpost.com.
    And right now, she's teaching English in China. She's learning a lot, homesick a lot, and pretty convinced she made the right move.
    "My mom looks it as a continuation of my education, a master's program without the certificate," she said.
    Bennett has never taken a language before, but has picked up enough Mandarin " what she sees as an "invaluable language" -- in three months to get to what she describes as the "newbie level." She can bargain and speak the social niceties ... and not so niceties if a driver careens toward her.
    Bennett is one of those who has graduated into the worst overall job market in decades. Add to that the fact that her field is journalism, which these days is experiencing the worst of times. She had some offers from small-town, low-paying newspapers, and decided to broaden her search. She considered the Peace Corps, then landed on the English-teaching Jayland schools.
More than your degree
    Independent career counselor Sheila Curran said Bennett is smart to have looked outside her field.
    "Any work experience is helpful," she said. "I think people are beginning to understand that most students are not going to find their ideal job right out of college. What employers are going to want to see is, 'How did you spend that time? Did you make the best use of it as possible? Did you do something that is either going to help your resume or going to help society?'"
    Curran said it was becoming clear even before the recession that new grads aren't ready to head directly into their careers, or even sure about what they want those careers to be. But the recession has made what was a matter of choice, a matter of necessity " and for some, an opportunity.
    "Students are thinking, 'Well if I go into one of these one- to two-year positions that still have prestige, then my parents will be happy and they won't think I wasted all of their money going to college."
    One of those prestige positions is the Peace Corps. At a job fair at Kent this spring, corps recruiter Amy Schoetner noted that applications for the Peace Corps are up 16 percent.
    "It definitely gives you a unique experience, and one that when you come back, an employer really understands that you're motivated, you're dedicated, you were put in a completely unfamiliar environment for two years."
    Not all bridge jobs require a migration to a different job path. Valerie Cosner is a junior psych major at the University of Akron with two jobs " waitressing and office work at a small music school. She's thought about the Peace Corps or other aid agencies " but as a direct step to her career.
    "I want to work for human rights and stuff like that so ... I'm already accepting the idea that to do what I really enjoy doing, I'm not going to get paid a lot.
Evolution of bridges
     Jobs counselor Curran said bridge jobs have been evolving for awhile. A few years ago, jobs in the stock and other finance sectors were among the bridge jobs, but that's faded. Still, some of today's bridge jobs continue to be in the world of business.
    DeShawn White is a junior at University of Akron majoring in business with a concentration in small business. He anticipates opening a day-care center. But he has a fall back " a sales job offer with Quicken Loans. He says he's good at sales and enjoys people, but still sees the sales job as a means to the end " his day care center.
    Sarah Bennett's contract with Jayland schools in China is up in January. She had planned to come back home for a visit this summer, but just got word her father lost his job and she's no longer certain she can afford the trip. Meanwhile, she's evaluating whether she should return in January.
    She noted that the economic downturn has hit China hard, and in some ways, even more tragically. People in China who lose their jobs often lose their company-supplied homes as well. But her job is secure, and the company and Chinese people treat her well. So she's thinking her bridge job may need to extend a little bit further.



 

Top Majors % of students
applying who
have landed a job
1. Accounting 38
2. Engineering 23
3. Business Management 22
4. Computer Science 22
5. Health Sciences 22



 

Major % of female students
applying who
have landed a job
% of male students
applying who
have landed a job
Accounting 43 29
Engineering 29 21
Business Management 20 24
Computer Science 15 25
Health Sciences 23 20
Data courtesy of National Association of Colleges and Employers

Resources

Journeyeast.org

Teaching English in China: Every Teacher Soon Becomes a Student

GVN Foundation - volunteer posts in non-governmental organizations

Idealist.org - Non-profit jobs

Collegegrad.com - Job search for graduates

Tips on where to look after graduation

The Peace Corps


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