By Eduardo Naranjo / NM News Port
As part of our Curious UNM project, our reporters are taking questions about the University of New Mexico. These questions can look at any aspect of life on campus, from historical moments to current events. This story by Eduardo Naranjo looks at the question of “How are UNM students preparing for work after graduation?”
Graduation is the day all University of New Mexico students dream about, having invested lots of time and money to get a degree. Next up? Getting a job.
For many students, however, a job search is the last thing on their mind during their busy senior year.
About 23 percent of UNM seniors said they didn’t start looking for jobs while in school, but would start after they graduate, according to UNM’s Office of Institutional Analytics. Of those who completed school, about 12 percent say they were unemployed after they graduated from UNM.
The availability of jobs in New Mexico could be another reason why some students struggle looking for employment after graduation. New Mexico has one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States – 4.7 percent in December, 2019, ranking 46th in the nation. The national average was 3.5 percent.
This may be why some decide to search for jobs outside of the state after graduating. uation. About 22 percent of UNM graduates said they would leave the state after graduating, while 45 percent said they would stay. The other 33 percent was a combination of people who weren’t sure or for whom there was no data, according to a survey conducted by UNM Career Services.
“It takes about eight months to find a professional job… I tell students to start looking a year before they graduate,” said Jenna Crabb, Director of Career Services at UNM.
Crabb says UNM Career Services can be a great resource for students.The department is available to anyone at UNM, though, Crabb said, many people don’t seem to take advantage of the services – about three percent of recent graduates said they used.
However, Crabb said, she sees more people coming in her office when the semester starts coming to an end, in December and May, seeking help.
“Where do I start? How do I start? Do I go to the company page? Should I use job databases? How do I get those jobs?” Crabb said. “We get students that are applying for 20 positions and aren’t getting interviews,” she said, indicating they need to improve their approach.
Finding the perfect job isn’t easy, as it involves job hunting, preparing a resume and cover letter, and, if it all goes well, prepare for an interview.
Job searching takes time, it’s a process that could be a bit frustrating, yet we all must go through it.
“Students should at least a year in advance should start looking, but if they don’t that doesn’t mean all is lost– it just means that they really need to focus and get in here and start working,” Crabb said.
Here are some steps that UNM Career Services provides if you see yourself in this position:
Getting started can be the most frustrating part, not knowing where to start or where to look. Though there are many places where students can go in and look for help.
Build up your resume and cover letter
Resumes and cover letters are what get you the interview. Without a good resume and cover letter, you can’t expect much. Each job has its own resume and cover letter that has to be tailored down to each position that you’re applying for.
Use job databases
Job databases are a great tool where students can easily navigate through thousands of jobs. Handshake is one of many. Handshake is formed by the employer relations team at Career Services who collaboratively work with 10,833 employers who are specifically seeking UNM students and alumni. They have over 9,000 jobs and internships available.
Strengthen interview skills
Interviews could be the most intimidating part of the whole process. Though, the interview happens to be the most crucial part. Put your best foot forward, articulate exactly that you have the skills and the knowledge that employers are looking for.
UNM Career Services helps both current students and alumni. The office tries to guide individuals into a career path that best fits them.
Whether students are needing help job searching, applying for graduate school, joining the military or not being sure what the next step is, Career Services will work with every student individually and help them get on the right page.
Students may come to realize that finding a job isn’t easy at times, and some may figure that out the hard way. Christian Aragon graduated UNM with a business last fall, and till this day is seeking employment in his field.
“I graduated from UNM last May and I’ve been looking for jobs since. I’ve had a couple of interviews, but no job offers,” Aragon said, who is now considering going back to school.
While graduation may seem like the time when doors open up for new opportunities, students still must exercise their job search options to take advantage of their degree and put it to use.
“I took the GRE hoping to get into graduate school – this way I have something to do,” Aragon said.
Approximately, 53 percent of college graduates in the United States are unemployed or working in a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree, according to the University of Washington.
Eduardo Naranjo is a reporter for the New Mexico News Port. He can be contacted on Twitter @Eduardoanaranjo or at firstname.lastname@example.org.