It’s your senior year and it seems graduation is quickly approaching. In just a few months you will walk across the stage and receive your degree, ready to set off into the real world. Both excited and nervous, you began applying for jobs, only it seems every position requires extensive experience and several references.
Dozens of applications later, and you still feel like you haven’t made any leeway. Not to mention, you still have midterms coming up and a senior thesis due soon, and the assignments are still coming thick and fast. It is a phenomenon known as the “senior slump,” the awkward and uncomfortable feeling of being so close yet so far. Every senior has or will experience this at some point.
Nicholas Coles, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, says he recalls the struggles he faced his senior year. His advice was seek counsel from any and every one, and said you are only as good as your network.
“It’s not easy, I get that. I remember those days,” he said. “What worked for me was networking. Just about every day I was in the career center harassing the staff about any new postings and listing.”
He says persistence is key, and says to never leave any door closed when searching for work.
“I notice a lot of you kids want to land some dream job right out of college,” he said “You have to be realistic, take what you can get and use it as an experience.”
Joan Brown, director of career services at Howard University, echoed Coles’ remarks, saying students should make better use of the tools available to them. She offered his advice to senior slump victims, saying:
“People who have twice and three times as much experience as you are having a hard time finding work, so if course someone at your age will find it difficult,” she said.
“It is easy to get discouraged, you kids think some perfect job is just going to fall in your lap.” She added.
Brown said networking is essential in your job hunt.
“Career fairs and networking seminars are your friend. Get out there and talk to somebody.”
She says dozens of seniors come into the office on a daily basis, most of who are frustrated by so-far fruitless job searches. She says it is completely normal, but tells each student this piece of advice:
“It’s not the end of the world. Stay hungry, something will come around.”
The end of world is a seemingly accurate depiction for some though. Suyi Adewole is a senior at York College in Pennsylvania, and says he changed his major from business to marketing in the hopes of increasing his chances of landing a job.
“It’s ridiculous” he said, “you spend all this time in school and can’t even get a job because they all want five to seven years of experience. How how do you get experience when you spend all day in class?”
He says he has grown frustrated by the lack of positions seemingly available and says even his former internship sites are fully staffed.
“I switched to marketing because every job I applied to (in the Business concentration) told me they needed crazy amounts of experience. I figured Marketing would be easier to land a job in especially since I have now have a minor in Business but it’s been the same thing so far” he said.
Adewole says he was even unlucky finding positions at his previous work places.
“I talked to my internship site (FTI Consulting in Washington, D.C) thinking they might have something for me and even they said their full time positions were full already.” Adewole is not alone, but there is hope for him and fellow seniors still. According to a report from Business Insider the unemployment rate for college educated millennials has actually dropped significantly since 2008. As of March, the rate has plummeted to 2.5 percent and a 50 percent decrease from 2009.
Still, the numbers can be skewed and don’t always fully reflect the occurrences of the job market.
Nicholas Parco knows this all too well. He graduated from Seton Hall University in 2012 and took nearly a year before landing a steady job. His Huffington Post article The Harsh Reality of Being an Unemployed College Graduate raised some interesting and scary points about life after college. He studied journalism, and said in the article that some of his very same professors who counseled him had left their journalism positions after they “read the writing on the newsroom walls.”
Now working as a copy editor and writer at 33 Universal in New York, Parco said that the senior slump is a very real phenomenon.
“People don’t seem to realize how tough our generation actually has it,” he said. “The older generations are quick to call us lazy and seem to think that getting a job is as easy as filling out an application.”
“It’s not. Newsflash, the days of being able to put yourself through school is over.”
“They know nothing about student loans,” he said. “It’s easy to dismiss the problem if you have already been working for 40 years.”
Parco’s frustration is a common theme. He speaks for the masses when it comes to the brutal job hunt awaiting graduating seniors. He also serves as motivation, as his relentless search finally paid dividends.
Tim Kuhn is another source of motivation for senior slump victims, particularly Hood students. He graduated from Hood in 2009 and found employment fairly soon thanks to his network.
“I will openly admit I got extremely lucky,” he said. “I just happened to have a friend who worked at Discovery and called me one day and asked if I wanted a job.”
His luck hadn’t yet run out.
“The same with NASA, I happened to know someone who knows someone and the person recommended me and now here I am,” he said. “Obviously I’m not suggesting anyone will get this lucky, but it goes to show that networking pays dividends.”