The real world
Graduation, if nothing else, means it’s time to find a job
Warm weather, fresh produce and fledgling fauna aren’t all spring brings—a new crop of Chico State graduates are also ripe and ready to spread their wings.
In the midst of an economic downturn some graduates give up hope of securing their dream jobs; but for those who know where to look, the lackluster economy isn’t an obstacle as much as an opportunity.
Because the economy is poor many people accept the first job to come their way, said Jamie Starmer, director of Chico State’s Career Planning and Placement office. This leaves more jobs for students who are willing to be persistent and aggressive in their job searches.
The Career Center helped graduating senior Tara Madden secure several interviews. With graduation looming only a few months ahead, Madden sought the Career Center’s help in turning her kinesiology major into a career. Starmer set Madden up with an interview at University of Nevada, Reno, where she is hoping to work while she pursues a master’s degree.
“If it wasn’t for the Career Center I’d have no direction at all right now,” Madden said. “If I could give any advice to college juniors, it would be to visit the Career Center.”
Starmer believes the center is one of the best resources available to students. The office maintains a database of jobs posted by recruiters looking to hire Chico State students, as well as a list of job-hunting Web sites. The Career Center also has a staff that will look over students’ résumés and cover letters, and offer pointers on how to make them look more professional.
Starmer counsels students, and helps them realize how little their career options are limited by their major. Skills students develop in college and in their work experience can be applied to an endless variety of fields, she said.
“What can’t an English major do?” Starmer asked. “Students don’t realize the different fields they can enter regardless of their major.”
Every year, Enterprise Rent-a-Car hires Chico State grads. Of the 75 to 100 people hired each year by Regional Recruiting Supervisor Donovan Davis, about 40 percent are from Chico State.
“I guarantee you those students didn’t grow up thinking they would work for Enterprise when they grew up, but it’s a good job,” Starmer said.
When recruiting graduates, Davis said professionalism is extremely important in interactions with potential employers. In selling themselves, Davis said students should think about what they would want to hear if they were in the position of hiring people.
“I called this guy up the other day, and I always introduce myself and ask, ‘Is this a good time?’ “ Davis said. “He was like, ‘Oh yeah, just having a cocktail.’ [Laughs.] So I said, ‘OK, I’ll call back'—and I never did.”
When students are looking for jobs they need to be prepared to answer the phone professionally, not with “What do you want?” Davis said. Giving a good impression, even over the phone, is important.
Davis also said students should start looking for jobs early. After they’ve already finished school, he wants a reason why they haven’t found a job yet.
“I want to know why they’ve been just sitting on Mom and Dad’s couch,” Davis said. “Were you trying to learn about yourself and what you want to do, or were you just playing with your Wii?”
One faux pas Starmer thinks the majority of students make when looking for a job is relying too heavily on the Internet. Web sites are a good resource, but students should also take advantage of career fairs and referrals from family, friends and professors.
“Students can come to the Career Center and get help from people who do this every single day,” Starmer added.