Tough job market means hard work for graduating seniors

The black cap and gown lay neatly folded, thoughts of the future consume the days and nights. No more worrying about final presentations, meeting deadlines for journalism, getting in hours for television production, and handing in that 10-page essay Monday morning.

Instead, Lindsay Evan worries about having the perfect resume, job interviews and having enough experience and qualifications for a job.

Graduation was upon Evans, 22, a senior majoring in communications from Canterbury N.H., along with the rest of the Norwich University class of 2014. NU has provided her with experience, knowledge, and direction as she goes into the workforce. However the job market is increasingly competitive and like many seniors, there’s anxiety about the future.

Evans, who is looking for a job in either in public relations, marketing, advertising, or other communications jobs, has had prior work experience which she hopes will give her an edge over the other applicants.

“I have worked at a machine shop for four years as an office assistant,” Evans said of her work experience. “I know the industry and I can understand the business world a little more than others,” she said.

Unfortunately, experience is not always enough to land a job. “The problem with applying to all these different jobs is not having the level of experience that they want, and it’s turning out to be a pain finding a job,” Evans said. “It’s me against 10,000 other applicants who have the same types of experience, and they want something that sets you apart.”

Though Evans is knee-deep in the interviewing process right now, Lou Delgado, 24, a senior majoring in engineering and management from Accord, N.Y., is lucky enough to have an internship at a construction company set up for him after graduation. He has been around the industry because his father owns a construction company.

“After graduation, I plan to work with PC Construction doing construction management. It’s an internship but with a strong implications that I’ll be offered a full time spot,” said Delgado.

Unlike Evans and Delgado who are either looking for jobs or have jobs that pertain to their major, Zachary McMillan, 22, a senior criminal justice major from Brunswick, Maine, does not plan on going into the criminal justice field.

“After graduation I intend to go back to my temporary work at Lobster Wharf in Harpswell, Maine, while pursuing basic emergency medical service (EMS) courses and continuing my education to attain my bachelor of science in nursing.”

When it comes to preparing for the workforce, some NU students find the career development center is important for building resumes, refining and perfecting cover letters, and even practicing interviews.

“I took a class called professional technical writing which required that we work with the career development center to create resumes and cover letters for future employers so I have worked with them and they have looked through my resumes,” Evans said, she added “I recommend it to everyone they are very helpful and they have a setup that really intrigues employers to see your information.”

Luke Puleo, 21, a senior majoring in criminal justice and communications from Bolton, Mass., finds the career development center to be beneficial and it helped him acquire an internship with the Department of Homeland Security.

“(They) really helped people out in terms of finding internships and jobs. They are really awesome in helping you create a proper resume that will look good for employers,” Puleo said.

Delgado did not go to the career development center for help him with his resume and interviews. “I personally don’t know where the office is. I think I went in there once for help on a resume but that didn’t really go too far,” Delgado said.

Although Delgado thinks the career development center is a “beneficial operation” he thinks Norwich alumni are a good avenue for students to try and find a job.

“The best thing you can do as a Norwich student looking for a job is by staying in touch with alumni in your major. Norwich folks take care of their own with all respects to them being qualified to do the job,” Delgado said.

Evans agrees that NU alumni are a good way to make connections or get help, and she uses her LinkedIn account to communicate with them. “With my LinkedIn, it’s cool with our big Norwich network. A lot of people have added me and have directed me in different ways in terms of applying to jobs,” Evans said.

Puleo agrees with Delgado and Evans that alumni can play a key role at Norwich in terms of one’s job search and career.

“On my resume, I received helped from the Bolton Police Chief from Massachusetts, who is an alumnus and graduated in the 1970s,” Puleo said. “He has really helped me out ,especially with putting stuff on my resume and is a solid character reference on it.”

In regards to what employers are looking for, Evans finds that prior experience is the critical qualification and can sometimes make or break a resume.

“They (employers) really want to see that you have done something crucial in this field that you want to go into,” Evans said. “Being a college student, I don’t have the same experience like someone that’s done all these internships outside of college.”

In the end, according to Evans, landing a job is all about what you can do for the employer as an employee. “So, really it’s what internships you have done and what worldly experience you have and what skills you can bring to the table that no one else can (that get you the job).”

Based on her experience, Evans has some advice for the junior class and those looking to get a head start on the job search. “Get on it so much earlier than most people do. Most people wait until a month before graduation. You want to start as a junior going into your senior year, because then you will have a basis of what you want.”

According to Evans, getting a resume and other career building blocks in order is important. “Get resumes and cover letters done, get your LinkedIn’s up, talk to the career development center, and get an internship,” Evans said.

McMillan agrees. Putting everything off until the last minute will not be helpful when looking for a job. “The best response to stress in pursuing careers for those who are not aware of what they want to do is to simply make a decision and follow through with it. Putting it off only heightens your level of indecisiveness,” McMillan said.

Besides getting ahead with resumes and internships, Delgado feels that personality is a big part of why someone may get hired.

“Don’t be awkward, learn how to speak to people. Management doesn’t hire people solely based off of grade point average and how many clubs you were in, they just want to be comfortable having to see you everyday, and that you’re competent in the given field,” Delgado said.

“Ask questions,” Delgado said. “Those who ask are those who get answers, which in turn yields results.”

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