EDITORIAL: Career plans need to be made now

Editorial staff

Graduating college and finally entering the real world is a time students dream for and dread.

No more spending time trying to find parking, writing essays or studying for finals, just a well deserved celebration with loved ones and fellow classmates.

Congratulations, making debt payments and a terrible economy loom ahead.

Going to graduation and then looking to start a career or just find a job is waiting too long. If graduation is on the horizon, searching and applying for jobs needs to be done immediately.

Not knowing where to go next in life can be overwhelming.

Walking in cap and gown without a sense of worry in the back of one’s mind can be avoided.

Not having to settle for a minimum-wage job can be accomplished by searching for a higher-paying job months and years in advance. There were more than 50 employers at Sacramento State’s Career Fair on Sept. 28 looking for potential employees.

“If you graduate this spring, you need to start applying now,” said Rasheeda Clark, sales capability associate for Frito Lay.

While Frito Lay prefers students with business degrees, students close to receiving any bachelor’s degrees can apply for jobs ranging from $35,000 to $45,000 a year.

Even if graduation is more than a year away, starting to look for a job now can reap benefits later by having connections with future employers.

“Apply your sophomore and junior years,” said Brett Boliou, executive team leader in logistics for Target. “I had a job offer a year before I graduated. Students need to be proactive instead of reactive.”

Students who are not graduating this semester need to consider improving their current resumes by getting involved in some organization on campus and attaining a position of authority, if they have not done so already. Being able to show leadership experience will put a resume ahead of those that simply list the degree.

Like Frito Lay and many other potential employers, Target is looking for future graduates to become part of its management team with salaries ranging from $40,000 to $50,000.

“We’re not looking for certain degrees, we’re looking for leaders,” said Mara Davis, Target store team leader. “(All graduates) have a degree; you need to set yourself apart.”

Those who want to increase the chances of putting their degree to immediate use after graduation should look for internships while still in school to establish professional experience with a company. Having an internship will bolster any resume sent to companies as it shows a strong work ethic and desire to get as much training as possible.

“I don’t want to be unemployed for a few months or a year,” said senior management information systems major Aaron Lee, who is looking for an internship. “I know someone who got a job at Chevron last year starting at $65,000.”

Even those with an outstanding resume will get turned down at times, especially with so many people competing for jobs in a struggling economy.

It is important to apply to as many decent opportunities as possible, experience at a job that is not preferred can lead to a better one down the road.

Taking advantage of the Career Center should be done on a regular basis. Getting help having resumes prepared and updated, going through practice job interviews and searching through job listings will increase the odds of landing a job before graduation.

“They should apply now, go to the Career Center and never fear rejection,” said Julien Moua, business analyst for Chevron. “You can fail 10 times but get picked up later.”

Moua is a 2007 Sac State alumnus who said Chevron is looking for computer science and computer engineering majors with salaries starting at $60,000.

Networking with other alumni before graduation can also lead to landing a job.

The Alumni Association holds monthly meetings and hosts three to four events a year where students can meet alumni, get advice and find possible job opportunities.

“Getting to meet alumni and network with them is always beneficial,” said Shay Patel, a student assistant at the Alumni Center.

Networking takes time to do but can open doors otherwise inaccessible. An unexpected phone call or e-mail offering a job can be the result of working hard and making good contacts.

Failing to create opportunities and giving the best impression possible to employers not only makes it difficult to get a job interview, those with stronger resumes and more references are far more likely to be hired for the same position.

The state of the economy is a filter for graduates. Only those who can prove they are dedicated to succeed will get through. Time is priceless and limited in college; getting the most out of it is essential. Simply finishing isn’t enough anymore.