The other day, I heard on the radio that two colleges in my area were hosting their commencement ceremonies on Mother’s Day. The radio DJs were saying how lovely it was that the two celebrations fell on the same day because graduating was a gift from child to mother, giving mom a chest-full-of-pride moment. I laughed…hard. Graduating on Mother’s Day was far less likely to be a gift than these DJs imagined. My mind immediately pictured Mom’s face as she greeted her new graduate after the ceremony. The grad says, “Hey Mom, I graduated college! Yay me! Now, I’m coming home again and, oh by the way, my student loans are due in six months. Can you lend me some cash and help repay my debt?” As the family gathers for those post-ceremony family pictures, Mom’s smile is strained and her thoughts go to the vacation she was planning that will now have to wait, her possible early retirement now much farther from reach, the dirty socks and bigger grocery bill on the way.
Obviously these DJs had not done their research. The Accenture 2014 College Graduate Employment Survey questioned more than 2,000 students who were preparing to enter the job market and compares their perceptions of the job market to the experience of recent graduates already in the workforce. This study revealed that a shocking 11% of graduating seniors had secured a job prior to graduation; down from 16% in 2013. The study also found that only 46% of 2012-2013 graduates were working full-time jobs and almost half say they are either underemployed or working in jobs that did not require their degree.
Another poll by AfterCollege found that an alarming 72% of graduating students are actively searching for employment. The career-networking website determined that only 1 in 5 graduates have a job locked down. Even the typically job-guaranteed STEM degrees (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) have been affected with 81% of these degree-holders leaving school unemployed.
For those of you finding yourselves in this predicament, I’m sure it’s a bitter-sweet moment. You’ve had every step planned until this point when you were “supposed” to have the career of your choosing, and now it may feel as though the rug has been pulled out from beneath you. You’re carrying your diploma home and finding a fat bill in the mailbox as a thank you note. My advice in each post remains consistent – work hard, get creative and, most importantly, budget.