Commencement ceremonies, diplomas and job applications.
Those things are leaving college seniors with a mix of angst and excitement as they begin a new chapter in life.
“It can be really stressful at times,” said Liam Palmieri, a business senior at the University of Arizona. “Worrying about finishing school and preparing resumes and applications for jobs can be really overwhelming.”
An estimated 1.8 million students will be graduating from universities at the bachelor’s degree level nationwide, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, while 30 percent of 3 million graduating high school students are expected to enter the workforce.
“You really are unsure at this point what is going to happen,” Palmieri said. “So many thoughts are going on in your head. Am I going to get hired? Where will I live? Will I be ready? There is so much to prepare for.”
And experts say there are many ways to be ready.
“It would be really helpful to get internships or internships in their own field,” said Ginger Korljan, of Take Charge Coaching, a career advisement organization. “The experience is more important than grades at this point.”
According to NACE, 56 percent of students who had at least one internship/experience received a job offer, compared to 36 percent of students who received a job offer with no experience.
Korljan, a career management coach, also said many students never take advantage of the opportunities on campus, such as the career services office.
According to Robin Mount, director of Career Services at Harvard University, students don’t think that deep into the process but should be asking for help.
Students can also utilize social media to their benefit.
“They should have a LinkedIn and also make sure all social media accounts are professional,” Korljan said. “Make sure you are not holding drinks in your pictures on Facebook. You’d be surprised how deep companies will go if they are hiring someone they want.”
Job fairs also are useful, Korljan said, letting students see what’s out there and make connections along the way.
In a 2015 survey, 88.4 percent of students said they attended career/job fairs, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, and 62 percent rated them as effective or very useful.
Most importantly, companies want to make sure you’re the right fit.
“Educate yourself as it relates to the company to ensure that you can match the organizational culture, vision, and mission,” said Megan Moser, a resources specialist at the University of Arizona. “Be open-minded.”
Moser also said companies want to see students’ drive and passion during the application process, something she said is more important than people think.
Hunter Kerr is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.