Get some action

In this economy, wait, let’s stop right there. That’s one of those qualifying phrases that has unfortunately become a cliché that precedes just about every statement made. We all wish it didn’t, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to change drastically before most of us graduate and enter into the work force looking for that first full-time job of our actual career with medical and dental benefits, and two weeks vacation.

That’s why we must do whatever we can — like taking internships, volunteering and doing entry-level work to make ourselves more competitive with all the other qualified people out there. We know what you’re thinking; it’s easier  said than done when you’re barely making enough money to afford the fast food value menu. And students aren’t exempt from feeling guilty about working for a pittance at a job they love over working at a droning job that pays the bills. Right now most of us are taking it one minimum payment at a time, but we really need to push ourselves to work toward our long-term goals, even if that might mean working for little to no monetary pay when you really can’t afford to.

The reward of a satisfying career, assuming you can break into one, isn’t the pay anyway. We would like to think that even high-priced lawyers and cutthroat stockbrokers went into their professions for some righteous reason like “to help people.” But the majority of professions are usually a labor of love. It’s easy to get stuck in a comfortable job, even one that you despise for holding you back, because it pays the bills. But those jobs that take up valuable time could be spent job shadowing somebody who does a job that you admire, networking with people in your desired field at social events, doing an extra internship or volunteering.

One of the advantages of going to a commuter school is that by the time most of us graduate, we have had the opportunity to try out the job market we plan on entering. The problem is that many of us don’t take advantage of those opportunities until senior year when we’re frantically filling out applications or completing a required internship. (Warning, shameless self-promotion just ahead.) As a newspaper that is fairly accessible to students who are interested in journalism, advertising, marketing, web development and more, it’s kind of shocking to see the low level of interest from journalism majors – especially considering it’s one of the fastest growing majors not only at this school but across the nation. There are currently 230 students enrolled in Oakland University’s journalism program, about 200 of which probably never set foot in our newsroom. It’s part of the phenomenon of students just not taking advantage of opportunities and resources available to them.

Too many of our friends who went away to college are paying so much and partying so hard because they think their degree from a more prestigious school will land them the job of their dreams. Not that Oakland University is cheap (despite its marketing campaign that says otherwise), that we don’t know how to party, or that our school doesn’t command some respect in the local job market because of the grads we have representing us. But we should know better than our counterparts who went off to college, will graduate thinking they have the golden ticket, then end up living at home because they’re too proud to take an entry-level job while working nights somewhere.

We should already have grasped the concept of knowing what it means to show some humility, so suck it up, work your ass off and show them what you’ve got. It might be hard, it might be tiresome, and you might not be able to afford the new iPhone, but you might be able to get your foot in the door before you graduate. You can rest when you die, or at least when the economy gets better.