Oh the places they’ll go: Seniors face challenges post-graduation

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As seniors finish up their finals and get ready to step out into the job market, they may want to take a minute to brush up on their writing skills too.

While degrees and experience are important, seniors may not realize that strong writing skills are especially appealing to employers said Jill Whitfield, career consultant for the College of Communication.

“If a student can’t write a strong resume, cover letter, or job entrance essay, professional statement – then they probably won’t get the job, regardless of their field,” she said.

Along with rusty writing skills, some graduating seniors can face a host of other challenges, like preparing for interviews and student loan repayment.

Associate English Professor Anne Frey, who oversees advising for the English Department, said she regularly suggests that students visit the Center for Career and Professional Services to practice interviewing. She also said students should tailor their resumes to specific industries.

“We also recommend that students practice articulating all of the ways that their liberal arts study has given them skills that transfer to the corporate world,” she said.

Frey said the emphasis on writing and research makes English degrees particularly versatile when job searching.

“Many English and Writing students go into fields like law, marketing, teaching, technical writing, and editing and publishing,” she said. “The skills they have learned also suit them for working in a business or non-profit environment.”

English and Film, Television and Digital Media double major Austin Shaw said that his experiences with internships and summer jobs taught him not to stress about the transition from college to the job market.

“As long as I continue to work hard, follow leads and connections, and look for jobs, something will work out,” he said.

Hiring: Behind the scenes

Whitfield said students often have more experience than they realize. Research projects, coursework and internships can often count as experience in that field. She added that ultimately companies hire whoever they like.

“Reach out to any TCU Alumni who could help you get your foot in the door,” she said.

 

Whitfield recommends looking for recruiters on LinkedIn to follow-up with and sending them a message to increase visibility. She said including your application number in messages is also helpful.

“As a former corporate recruiter, I assure you that finding a contact to follow-up with is crucial,” she said.

Finances

Wage averages for college graduates are leveling out and surpassed 2007 wage levels earlier this year, according to a May EPI report. In February the EPI reported that hourly wages for college graduates have reached roughly $19 per hour – up roughly a dollar from the previous year’s estimates.

Despite this improvement in wages, student loans constitute a serious financial burden for many students. The average 2017 graduate owes roughly $27,857, according to the Student Loan Report.

To avoid defaulting on student loans the US. Department of Education recommends that graduates notify their loan servicers of any life changes that could affect their ability to make payments. The loan servicer can then discuss options like switching payment plans, loan consolidation and deferment.

Twenty-eight percent of all full-time TCU students received federal student loans for the 2015-2016 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

One more for the road

As she prepares to move to Colorado for law school, graduating English and Political Science double major Emily Gibson said she’s excited about her future.

“I think big things are in store,” Gibson said. “Though I will for sure miss TCU, I know I will always be a Horned Frog and have a place here if I ever need it.”

Though Austin Shaw said he is excited to graduate and start working, he added that graduation is bitter-sweet.

“I have mixed feelings,” he said. “I love TCU and would love to stick around Fort Worth, but I am also incredibly ready to start working in the field that I have been training in for four years.”

Whitfield said all students can find help at the Center for Career and Professional Services and that TCU career consultants are “a resource for life.”

Whitfield added that sometimes graduates learn that the careers they wanted in college aren’t a good fit for them. She said students shouldn’t pressure themselves to find the perfect job after graduation.

“It’s okay to change your mind and pursue a different path,” she said. “Sometimes it takes finding out what you don’t like, to find what you love.”