Career planning gives students edge in job market

by Life Editor Ann Harkey

Students may find it can take anywhere from 60 to 90 days after graduating college for them to find a job, said Melissa Medlin, UNA director of career planning and development.

In order to become more marketable after graduation to potential employers, it is crucial for students to explore different opportunities in the community and on campus, she said.

“You have to recognize this as a process,” she said. “Just because you have a degree, doesn’t mean you are owed a job.”

Medlin said one of the first steps students should take for their future career is deciding what skill sets they want to develop and actually learning about what career they want to pursue.

“I think you have to do some research,” she said. “Getting to know your professor by what they have actually done that is related to your field can help you find out about the work you would like to do when you graduate.”

She said several advisees often were not aware what their long-term career goals actually included.

“You have to be strategic,” she said. “Getting involved on campus is important other than adding lines on a resume. Don’t join things just to join. Any of your professional student organizations and groups related to your field are certainly important.”

UNA provides free career counseling through career planning and development. Students can make appointments to discuss what they can do to better their chances of finding jobs, Medlin said.

“Career counseling helps students find jobs and target what they really want to do,” she said.

Greg Pitts, chair of the communication department, said finding a mentor in a staff or faculty member can help students to broaden their perspective on the work field.

“Look for those pearls of wisdom from getting to know someone,” he said.

Internships are important for students to get experience and network in order to become more marketable when they graduate, Pitts said.

Kodi Chandler, a public relations and entertainment industry major, said his internship with Brave New World, a full entertainment firm in Tacoma, Wash., was a “huge resume booster.”

“I planned events and ran their social media outlets,” he said.

Chandler found this opportunity on

Students should prepare themselves beyond good grades for when they graduate, experts suggest.

“The bottom line is, the number one reason students come to college is to find a job,” Medlin said. “Why not work on that while you’re here?”