When I was in college, you needed to prepare for life after school, no question. An internship was highly suggested, and prior experience in the field was looked at favorably. Extracurriculars, volunteering, and leadership opportunities were a big plus. The pressure was there; all of our professors drilled in us how competitive the “career world” could be. But now? Yikes! Those poor graduating seniors!
I knew the job market was bad. I report on that sort of thing on a weekly basis! But today I got to feel that panic.
We went to an engineering job fair at Iowa State University, and it was JAM PACKED! I mean you could barely move through the sea of students, all dressed up and professional, walking around handing their resumes to future employers and really selling themselves- some just for unpaid internship opportunities.
It brought me back to when I was that age (which, admittedly really wasn’t that long ago. I graduated in 2007) and made me think- I mean, I know I had to work hard to get a job (took me a year after college) but when did it become a requirement to work that hard just to get an opportunity?
And talking to the students and employers, that’s what it is now- it’s just expected of you. Even the over achievers are just “middle of the row” now. Forget about that one internship to get your foot in the doors, some are collecting as many as 4 or 5 throughout their college career. One recruiter said, “There’s been a few stand outs, but I mean a lot are just on the same playing field.To be considered there’s got to be some stuff that stand out or some leadership qualities, even overseas assignments they’ve done, and studying abroad helps as well.”
Standing above the crowd, looking down, another thing occurred to me, along with the fear and worry I felt on behalf of those trying to enter the work force- admiration. If this is the type of dedication out there just at a job fair, the very first stop on the interviewing journey, then just imagine what we have to look forward to as the younger generation takes over.
I’m not saying this stress is a good thing, it definitely makes me even more grateful for my job, but maybe we can all get something good from it, and be reintroduced to “work ethic” and “hard work” and just good old fashioned determination.