This month, the collegiate class of 2013 will stride out of the classroom and into the workforce — but then again, maybe not.
Although the United States has seen a modest upturn in the number of jobs being created recently, not all college graduates will be fortunate enough to move immediately into full-time jobs.
The remainder will cross over into a realm where rejection letters pile high and self-confidence dwindles: unemployment.
These unemployed college graduates will accompany the other 5 percent of degree-holders already seeking gainful employment, thus adding to the 9.7 percent national unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While some cope well with delayed employment after college graduation, for some young adults, unemployment means more than being broke. It means spending long, restless months staring at an empty inbox while fear, anxiety and disappointment take their toll.
Union University graduates entering the job market may find more welcome prospects than in previous years following a 0.2 percent decrease in Tennessee unemployment rates, but competition remains high.
With an 8.1 percent unemployment rate, Madison County has the second lowest county unemployment rate in Tennessee.
Most Union graduates are finding jobs even though the job market is tight.
“Union graduates do well in the job market post-graduation,” said Jacqueline Taylor, assistant dean of students and director of the Vocatio Center. “Three months post-graduation, we have seen consistent placement rates of 75 percent to 80 percent over the past four to five years. Candidates who are bachelor’s-prepared consistently experience lower unemployment rates than non-degreed professionals.”
Elizabeth Davis, who graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism in 2012, said Union officials did everything they could to help her succeed after graduation and that Union is focused on providing top preparation for students to ensure post-graduate work.
The university focuses on combining internship experience with professional extracurricular opportunities and providing students with training in everything from building portfolios to honing interviewing techniques.
“The Vocatio Center for Life Calling and Career offers holistic professional development for Union students, especially upcoming graduates,” Taylor said. “Our services include personality assessment and interpretation, life calling and career planning and goal setting, résumé development, cover letter writing, interview training, salary negotiation, job search skills, portfolio development, and networking strategies.
“We also offer one-on-one career counseling/coaching and graduate school assistance,” Taylor added.
According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, non-farm employment services added 23,100 jobs in the past year, while health and business services added 14,200 new jobs. Trade and manufacturing employment both were up 19,200 and 10,900 jobs, respectively. Apparel jobs have declined by 2,400.
“The economy has been pretty tough, and students are having a hard time finding work,” said Emily Davis, sophomore biology major. “There is disruption in the field, but in disruption, there’s opportunity. The jobs are there, but they don’t look like they used to.”
Taylor said the Vocatio Center seeks to develop “Romans 12 professionals” through its co-curricular programming model and Personalized Academic and Career Exploration course, or PACE.
“PACE is designed to help students improve self-knowledge, clarify major/minor courses of study, and understand God’s calling in the context of giftedness in preparation for the real world of work and service,” Taylor said.