I shook more than one thousand hands on Friday as our business students got their degrees and moved on to the next stage in their lives. Sometimes I wonder where they all come from.
This year thanks to Lonny [Butcher, director of our Office for Career Connections], I have a much better idea of where our undergraduate degree holders are going. Lonny took me up on my offer to buy lunch for cross- departmental groups wanting to discuss a college-wide issue. Actually in this case it was breakfast and the “lunch time roulette” group developed and implemented a survey of graduating seniors in our capstone course. Fittingly, I got the results on Friday afternoon about four hours after graduation.
More than 550 students replied to the survey. Forty-five percent of the students were looking for full-time work. And as Lonny puts it, among these job seekers only half report that they know what they want to do and less than 40% know where they want to work. At best, 40% have been to Career Services and most of that was just to meet with a counselor and have their resume reviewed. Less than a quarter have taken advantage of services such as workshops, company info sessions, mock interviews, etc. However, the same group is very confident of their skills to find that unknown job, scoring in the affirmative by 80% to questions about their interviewing and networking skills. In short, they don’t know what they want to do or where they want to work and have done little to hone their job search skills, but they are sure they will find something that suits them.
I don’t share their optimism. It is hard to look for work when you don’t know what you want to do. Will a skilled aimless search produce a better result than an unskilled aimless search? My guess is that both end with the first job offer. Only luck will produce a good much. A bad match hurts the alum, the employer and us. So how do we help students improve their career decision skills so that they do a more honest assessment of their job search capabilities and get a better start on landing the right job? Lonny and the group, looks like I’m buying lunch again..
Paul Jarley, Ph.D., is the dean of the UCF College of Business Administration. He blogs every week at http://www.bus.ucf.edu/dean. This post appeared on May 6, 2013. Follow him on Twitter @pauljarley