The Worst Job Economy in Generations?

Gen Y sure has it rougher than I did when it comes to finding a job! Despite the fact that they are mostly college-educated, there’s a good chance that the only result of that education is having to pay back student loans.

As reported in  an MSNBC story today, the job outlook is grim for the youngest members of the workforce:

Among 18-to 29-year-olds, unemployment is the highest it’s been in more than three decades, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center. The report also found that Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are less likely to be employed than Gen Xers or baby boomers were at the same age.

How’s that for an excuse to drown your sorrows at the beach?! Of course, if you’re a Millennial, or anyone at all who’s dealing with the sad state of affairs that is the job market, giving up is the worst thing you can do. Here are some proactive ways to ditch your unemployed status:

Make connections with everybody. Whether it’s your local grocery store owner, your dog groomer, or your nosy neighbor, anyone might have just the connection you need to break into your field. During friendly conversations, let them know you’re in the market, and what your  skills are, and don’t be surprised if you’re on the phone with someone’s uncle’s best friend’s wife before the day is out!

Get your foot in the door. It’s cliche, but so many companies hire from within, so taking a low-wage entry-level or temp job could be your ticket to full-time opportunities. You’ll be right there in the face of the hiring manager, as opposed to a faceless piece of paper on his or her desk. And, hey, you’ll at least have a little income coming in while you keep your eye out for other opportunities.

Consider relocation. If you’re young and mobile, you might think about going where the jobs are, instead of waiting for them to come to you. And that’s not necessarily a major metropolitan area. Depending on the industry, it might be better to scour jobs on the outskirts or in neighboring suburbs, where competitions is less fierce.

Don’t let ’em see you sweat. Even if you’re feeling desperate for a job, if you tell a potential employer that you’ll take anything they offer, you’re setting yourself up for a job you’ll hate and less income than you deserve. Instead, play up your strengths and highlight why you’re perfect for a particular position.

Have you been looking for a job this summer? Tells us about your experience, share tips, or feel free to vent… we’re listening!

Good luck with the hunt!

-Dawn Papandrea

5 Ways to Find the Right Education Program for You

Your quest for more education is just beginning, and we’re here to help you sort out the best education program for your needs and career dreams.

If you’ve been putting in hours research programs near and far, here’s a quick list of key factors in your decision-making process. Pay close attention to this information, whether you’re seeking an associates or bachelor’s degree, an advanced degree, a certification or pursuing a non-degree program.

  1. The description: While learning at all stages of life is important, you’re going to want to see a real benefit by devoting time now to school. So, look at the description of the program. Does it give you an idea of the impact on your career? Does it get your excited about this educational endeavor? You want and deserve a program that’s going to be challenging and put you on a path toward professional success. If you’re trying to decide between two types of degrees, weigh your potential earnings by checking out this list of salaries.
  2. The length of time: How many months or years will it take for you to complete the program? Think about how that timetable may fit with other events (such as having a child, becoming an empty nester, or reaching retirement age) and activities in your life or put you into position to transition to the next phase of your career. You may need a program with more flexibility, or maybe you’re seeking a program with a rigid format where you can’t procrastinate and delay earning your degree.
  3. The experience: This will quickly take some programs off your list, depending on what type of work and school experience is required or desired. If it’s not made clear on a website, catalog, or brochure, don’t hesitate to ask.
  4. The feedback: Ask to speak to alumni of the program to get their insight of the benefits, challenges, and quality of the professors and program content. Their perspective may be the deciding factor if two programs appear to have no other differences.
  5. Your gut: After you’ve done the research and asked the questions, what is your gut telling you? That can be a factor in your decision. When the coursework becomes difficult and if you start to question whether you will actually finish, you’ll remember the feeling you had during this time, when you knew this was the right education program for you.

What other factors did you find crucial in determining the best school and program for you?

-Lori Johnston

Guaranteed Placement Program Helps Students Deal with Job Market Uncertainty

One of the reasons you may be reluctant to go to college is because you question whether getting the degree will result in being hired. After all, you may know people who are well-educated and still unemployed, so why join them?

Well, for more than a decade, Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa., has been promising students who complete its professional development program that if they don’t get a job or be accepted into graduate school within six months of graduation, they will receive a paid three-month internship.

The Catholic, private liberal-arts university says its Guaranteed Placement Program has assisted more than 150 students since 1999. Of course, that’s been in good economic times and bad, and we know that it’s still tough to get a job now.

It’s a free program (in addition to their degree programs) that requires students to attend workshops, mock interviews, job fairs, and seminars to learn about resume building, professional etiquette, interviewing, and other steps that can help them navigate the job market or earn acceptance into graduate school. The students also must meet with career counselors, complete a three-credit internship, and maintain a 3.0 GPA.

We chatted with Rachel Roa, one of 26 students who completed the program this year, to see what she thought about this degree with a guarantee. Rachel, a 2010 graduate, is doing a year of service work with the Franciscan Mission Service in Washington, D.C.

Where you concerned about the uncertain job market?
Definitely. I don’t think any major had a free ride into a job. I chose accounting because the demand will always be out there, but you never know with the economy and companies needing to let people go for financial reasons.

Why did Guaranteed Placement Program appeal to you?
Honestly, it was free and it offered to help me get a job in case I wasn’t successful. Knowing that after all that work you do for four years, you still have a back-up plan in case you really can’t find anything. That was the initial appeal, but when I got to meet the counselors and know them better, it was like a second home. I really got a lot of advice on applying to jobs and how to market myself better. The counselors really got to know me and know what was best for me. Also, it was nice to know that they have a 100 percent success rate. The students who graduated from the GPP students either got a job (which shows Misericordia prepares their students well) or internships that lead to employment (which means the GPP is successful in finding their students employment opportunities).

Did you do an internship?
The counselors at Misericordia helped me find my internship (required to complete the program). Although I had an internship, it wasn’t long enough. Of course, that isn’t the fault of theirs, but it’s the irony that me and my recent graduates faced when applying to jobs: you can’t have work experience without work.

Do you think other schools should consider similar Guaranteed Placement Programs?
Without a doubt, Misericordia is always finding ways to help their students. The program showed the students that our school does care about us and what happens after college life. I think it’s also another way for colleges/universities to prepare students for the real-world atmosphere.

-Lori Johnston

UPDATE >> After we tweeted about this post, University Business alerted us to two other schools running similar programs. Kudos to Lansing Community College (Michigan) and Thomas College (Maine). Read up on the details here at the UB Buzz blog.

Make Education Your Mid-Year Resolution

We’ve made it through the first half of 2010, so if you haven’t fulfilled your New Year’s resolution to go back to school, now’s the time!

Maybe you decided not to make a New Year’s Resolution this year, but it’s not too late to set an educational goal for yourself in 2010. Your Mid-Year Resolution could be the perfect way to come back from vacation mode with an energized outlook toward your future.

You could be making the major move to go back to college – for the first time, or after a hiatus. Or you could be realizing that you need to do something now to stay on or climb to the top of your field and need to carve out the time for a certificate program.

We know you can do it, but if you need a little more encouragement to keep from procrastinating any longer, here are three tips from University of Maryland Medical Center psychiatrists about keeping New Year’s resolutions. And hey, they can apply to your Mid-Year Resolutions, too!

1. Put off a perfectionist mindset.
It’s great that you desire to improve your education level or add to your knowledge in a certain industry. But you need to think in positive terms. Here’s how it could relate the classroom: Students need to view an A- as better than a B, rather than not as good as an A, the University of Maryland experts say.

2. Keep realistic resolutions.
Look for a program that could work with your busy schedule or in a flexible format, such as an online program, that allows you to balance everything else you have going on in your life.

3. Get some support.
Tell folks you trust about your educational resolutions and ask them to encourage you along the way. Friends and family also could help you as you determine the best program for you and cheer you on, from the start of the first course to graduation day. They also can gently nudge you back on track, the UM experts say, when you are discouraged.

Take July to make a Mid-Year Resolution about education, and then you can look forward to fulfilling those goals this fall or winter!

-Lori Johnston