By Kristen Fiandaca
Since graduating with a degree in communications media from FSU, Steph Hilow has applied for 30-plus jobs in her field. The result: two interviews and zero job offers so far. “It sucks hardcore,” said Hilow. “Grad school is looking pretty good at this point.”
College students assume that earning a degree will help secure their futures, but it’s not always that simple. Some FSU graduates struggle to find work in their field due to lack of experience, while others question whether their major makes them marketable.
Katie Paine, a sociology major, would like to start a career in social work but hasn’t been able to find steady employment since graduating in May 2011. She completed a 13-month internship but says this wasn’t enough experience for employers. According to her, most positions in this field require two to five years of experience.
“The job market is challenging,” said Erin Kelleher, director of the Career Services Center at FSU. “Graduates have to work harder nowadays.”
And in some fields, the job market is only one consideration. “Do I follow my dream of being a writer despite the obstacles?” asked Jason Flinkstrom, who graduated with a degree in English/professional writing. “Or should I have gotten a degree in computer science, which I’m told is a field that hires more?”
Paine also feels that she’d have more opportunity if she had majored in a different area of study.
But Kelleher doesn’t believe there’s a wrong major a student can pick. “The problem is that students are not properly planning for success,” said Kelleher. She said internships, leadership roles, clubs, grade-point average and minors are all very important in conjunction with any major.
John Papp, a communications media/film major, is having an easier time than some finding employment. He works at Brownstone Entertainment in Los Angeles as a production assistant after completing an internship at Serjical Strike Records, where he was tasked to film the musician Serj Tankian as part of a documentary.
Papp was able to secure a full-time job once his internship ended through friends who had also graduated from FSU.
He says that his internship helped him establish himself in the professional world, but notes that internships should not be viewed as an “instant job connection.” He attributes his success to a bit of luck and knowing the right people.
“I’ve known several people who interned in L.A. at the same time as me who have since returned home due to lack of work,” said Papp. “I consider myself lucky … as far as I know, I could either be here in six months’ time or back home in Massachusetts. It’s a toss-up.”
For help in planning for career success, the Career Services Center is located in Room 218 on the second floor of Hammond.