Go over the top to avoid underemployment

Many of us are in the final stretch toward earning our degrees. But before you start celebrating, take a breather and look around you. What you see may put a stumble in your stride.

According to a report by the Associated Press, about 1.5 million, or 56 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 were jobless or underemployed last year — the highest it has been in the past 11 years.

Are you slowing down yet?

The article, based on an analysis of 2011 Current Population Survey Data by Northeastern University and a study published by Rutgers University in New Jersey titled “Chasing the American Dream: Recent College Graduates and the Great Recession,” highlights the prospects of those who, like myself, are working their way toward their bachelor’s degree, with … well, not too much hope.

The article goes on to read that only three of the 30 occupations with the largest number of expected job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree or higher — so 27 will not require education higher than an associate’s degree (or less).  This sad fact is already evident in today’s job market. Within the 1.5 million recent graduates who were without a job last year, about half were underemployed.

Did your slowing pace come to a halt?

And as the total student debt reached $1 trillion in 2010, paying for college has gotten even harder. Fifty-six percent of those who took the Rutgers survey borrowed money from a government program or private bank, while 8 percent borrowed from a family member or relative who they plan on reimbursing.

“Okay, so after college I’m going to be in massive debt, living with my parents and folding t-shirts at the mall for the rest of my life,” you ask?

Well no, not necessarily. There are jobs out there; you just have to sweat a little for them.

The study also shows that those who work in internships within their field of study while still in school were likely to earn 15 percent more than the average graduate — think $30,000 instead of $26,000. On top of that, 80 percent of those who were employed found a job while still in school. Is the message getting through? Keep up with me.

It’s tough out there — tougher than it has been in the past 10 years. But don’t lose your stride — go above and beyond. Do internships (multiple, not just one) and get involved with organizations and groups related to your major. Meet people and gain references. That and experience is what is going to get you that job and pay off your student loans.

If you think graduating with good grades and doing your homework (almost) every day is going to land you an efficient job, you have some work to do.

Make the realization now, while you can still take advantage of the resources and avenues offered to you. Go the extra mile before it’s too late — or you’ll be making friends with the proverbial pavement come graduation.



Contact Life Editor Clare La Torre via email at

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