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Thanks for the Degree! Now About that Career…

By Jerusalem Solomon, VCU Senior

The years you spend in college are tough, but it’s all worth it when you get that degree career you oh-so-desire, right?  Well, maybe. The truth is, only a lucky few get their dream job, immediately after graduation.  Others spend a good chunk of time on their job search before they land that entry-level position in their field of study.

Don’t believe me?  While working at a restaurant, I realized almost half of the serving staff consisted of VCU college graduates with degrees spanning from Biology to Religious Studies.  It is slowly becoming a reality that after four years of college, countless hours of studying, and thousands of dollars spent on a promising education, students could be stuck at a job that doesn’t require a college degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (, the number of 16 to 24 year olds with employment has grown substantially between April and July 2012 by 2.1 million people. That’s great! But why are young people still unsatisfied? Simple, they aren’t getting the jobs ( they paid for.

When Jessica, another VCU graduate, walked across the stage in 2010, she wasn’t expecting that it would take two years and more than 500 job applications to get to three part-time jobs that hardly pay anything.

In her job search, Jessica hit the road blocks we all do, such as not having sufficient experience or having to compete with those who have master’s degrees and are struggling to find the same entry-level positions. Here are a few things these two graduates want us to learn from them:

  1. Get your internships while you’re in college, even if they aren’t paid. Most places can require anywhere from one to five years of experience before they even think of hiring a candidate. When you’re trying to get a job, you might not be able to afford taking an unpaid internship. You’re in the real world now, buddy.
  2. Combine your passions with work. When all else failed, Jessica decided to take matters into her own hands and is now in the process of starting her own design and photography business. Maybe we could take a page from her book!
  3. Networking and branding yourself ( are a must. Remember, looking for a job, is a full time job in itself. Invest in yourself, and others will too!

Good luck fellow job-seekers!