Improving economic conditions have finally caught up to millennials, providing them with a brighter job market, according to the United States Department of Labor.
But a recent Federal Reserve Bank of New York report says the devil is in the details. Not all new college graduates are doing equally well. The kind of degree they earned is an enormous factor in the job hunt.
“There’s no question that your field of study significantly alters your prospects, but even having chosen the right field is no guarantee,” says Matt Stewart, an entrepreneur and co-founder of College Works Painting (www.collegeworks.com), an internship program that provides practical business experience for college students.
“How you approach your field, such as engagement at an internship, can boost your professional prospects immensely.”
For example, interns with College Works Painting operate their own house-painting business with hands-on guidance from mentors. They learn valuable leadership skills by functioning as leaders in a business.
“Unemployment for our alumni has remained at less than 4 percent, including when youth unemployment exceeded 16 percent a few years ago,” Stewart says. “This kind of challenging yet fun student experience helps ensure a good career for college graduates right out of the gate.”
He offers tips about what students should look for in an internship so they can gain the professional experience they need to land a job after graduation.
• Know what you will actually be doing. While simply being in a company’s culture has value, many businesses assign students to their lowest-level work. Grunt work, to some extent, is a fact of life in most professions. But that kind of work won’t propel a student’s career. Consider an internship that gives you real responsibility and provides experiences that will definitely come in handy in your future career.
• Consider a company’s internship recognition. Don’t accept an internship with just any organization. Think about the business awards the company has won, the type of articles that have been written about the company, and how the company contributes to their industry and community. If you can, get information on how other former interns fared.
• For any student, real experience is crucial. Whether you’re an artist, athlete, musician, theater major, English student, a STEM-field student, or a business major or future entrepreneur, getting experience often comes with a heavy price. This includes the loss of personal or family finances. Look for opportunities that provide guidance while allowing you to apply skills to real-life challenges such as budgeting, marketing, and managing employees. These are transferable skills that apply to any industry.
“Regardless of how the economy is doing, you’ll want to put forth your best effort,” Stewart says. “As we’ve seen, the market can take a nosedive at any time.”