Graduates face unsteady prospects

UNA student Amanda Bowen works at Sonic.

With the high unemployment rates changing slightly, many graduating seniors may need to plan ahead to get into their desired profession after obtaining a college degree.

While the job market is often unpredictable in regards to the economy’s various demands, it is essential that graduating seniors develop an idea in terms of having a stable job after graduating from college, according to career planning officials at UNA.

Alabama still stays above the national unemployment rate at 9.8 percent. Among the 11 metro areas in Alabama, the Shoals holds fifth place in terms of lowest unemployment percentage. From August to September, the Shoals area unemployment rate has increased from 9 percent to 9.2 percent. Mobile has the highest at 10.8 percent.

Employment success depends on demand. With students studying for different majors and professions, it is likely that some will get more job recognition than others.

“It is vital that job seekers are flexible, competitive, flippant and aggressive,” said Director of Career Planning and Development Melissa Medlin. “Many companies look for experience, and students need to be the product of what that employer wants to hire.”

Medlin also believes that many students have a misconception of the purpose of Career Planning and Development at UNA.

“Many students come here and think we can locate jobs for them after graduation when our purpose is solely to educate them and provide resources on how to find a job,” she said.

Senior professional writing major Lauren Elise is fearful because graduation is near and she does not feel fully prepared.

“Because I do not feel ready just yet, I am trying to make plans to go back to school for my master’s,” she said.

Many students, not knowing what direction they should take after graduation, decide to do a few more years in graduate school.

“Students should not go to graduate school to avoid the job search,” Medlin said. “Take charge of the situation, and take advantage of the sources at hand.”

Hannah West, a senior fashion merchandising major, is excited to graduate but nervous about the economy.

“I am still trying to stay positive about the job hunt,” she said.

While many graduating seniors do not feel secure enough to enter the job market, some do feel optimistic about their plans after graduation.

Senior Stephanie Bradshaw is not worried about life after graduation.

“The four years swept by so fast,” Bradshaw said. “It is OK to be a little nervous, considering that students who are so used to their college routine are being let out into the big, wide world.”

Majoring in exercise science, Bradshaw will stay in her field, soccer, by pursuing a career as a graduate assistant at another institution while working to achieve a master’s degree in human performance.

“I just want to stay in something soccer-related,” Bradshaw said.

Career Planning and Development has also been helpful to Bradshaw.

“They helped me write a good resume and made me take a job test in which I was suited for a mechanic,” Bradshaw said, laughing.

It all depends on what field students are going into, and whether or not they get their names out there, according to Bradshaw.

Senior Caleb Kendrick is also optimistic about his plans after graduation in fall 2012.

“I was taught by my professors to find internships and go to graduate school after getting my degree,” Kendrick said.

As a theater major, Kendrick believes the possibility of finding a job in Alabama is slim.

“My advice to other students is to go where the jobs are,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick plans on getting an internship at Walt Disney and then moving on to get his master’s at the University of Maryland. Upon achieving his master’s, he wishes to become a theme park designer for Universal Studios in Orlando.

“I am a bit nervous coming from a school like UNA, but I am confident in the experience I am getting from my directors here and working with them one on one,” Kendrick said.

Unfortunately, only 5 to 10 percent of UNA students find jobs immediately after graduation, according to Medlin.

“Students are not preparing themselves,” Medlin said. “It is essential that they plan ahead and think about what was their ideal reason for the major they chose in the first place.”