Reality Bites For Millennials Getting Their First Jobs. Career Centers To The Rescue?

In the 1994 GenX hit movie Reality Bites, main character Lelaina Pierce, a new college grad, bemoans her lack of a meaningful career. She was class valedictorian, yet she can’t find work in her chosen field of videography. One of her friends works in retail, but Lelaina defiantly declares: “I’m not going to work at the Gap!”

 

The movie is more than 20 years old now, but resonates with Millennial graduates today as strongly as it did with pre-recession GenXers. This is in part because unemployment and underemployment rates for young workers (those under 25) are, in good times and bad, nearly twice as high as they are for those over 25. For Millennials, the 2008 crash and subsequent recession have worsened the problem. In the spring of 2015, the unemployment rate for young college graduates was 7.2% and the underemployment rate was 14.9%, compared to 5.5% and 9.6%, respectively, in the spring of 2007 (Economic Policy Institute).

 

STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) have fared better than their humanities and social science counterparts in terms of unemployment, but even STEM majors have been unlikely to find work in their chosen field in the first years after graduation, according to a July 2014 U.S. Census Bureau report. And that means that the unemployment rate for graduates in fields like architecture, music, history, English, and sociology are even higher than the national averages.

 

Students and recent grads aren’t the only ones complaining about this either. College career centers frequently get phone calls from anxious parents, some who have dished out tens of thousands of dollars or signed for substantial loans on behalf of their children for a college education. If your child can’t get a job after the investment of all this time and money, what was the point?

 

Despite this gloomy outlook, the economy is improving, and that will certainly ease some of the unemployment and underemployment figures. But since unemployment and underemployment will always be an issue for recent college grads, it’s important that students take every advantage possible in order to put themselves at the front of the hiring line.

 

While there are many things students can do to improve their chances at securing post-graduate employment – choosing colleges with good post-grad employment rates, getting good grades, completing internships, etc. – one of the most effective tools in the employment arena is networking and beginning the job search well in advance of graduation day.

 

If you’re a student or a parent of a high school or college student, contact your college’s career center staff as early as possible to find out what their networking resources are. No time is too early – this would be an excellent step to take before even selecting a college, as you want to attend (or have your student attend) the college or university with the best options for connecting with future employers.

 

Most schools will offer at least one, and likely all three, of the following:

 

·      A university Linked-In group for undergrads and graduates

·      On-campus interviews

·      Traditional career fairs

 

While these are good starting places, they have some serious flaws. A university-based Linked-In group will most likely connect students only with graduates. Human resource directors can’t reach out to every university group on Linked-In. On-campus interviews are often limited to local employers. What about the jobs with great companies in other areas of the country? And studies have shown that Millennials are simply adverse to standard career fairs, which of course still have the problem of only attracting local companies.

 

If these are the only options your career center offers, it’s simply not enough to give you or your student the advantage they sorely need in this employment market. Online networking / flash-mentoring / interviewing platforms like Revere are the cutting edge of employment-boosting tools every career center should be offering.

 

So if your career center doesn’t have an online networking / flash-mentoring / interviewing program in place yet, talk to one of their representatives today and ask them to create one…and, shamelessly, I hope it’s on the Revere platform!

Going Beyond Your Association’s Annual Conference

Regardless of your career, there’s likely a professional association that can bring you together with your colleagues. While everyone loves an annual conference, professional associations need to connect their members to one another with greater ease and greater frequency than traditional methods, creating benefits for both the members and the associations themselves.

For many professional organizations and their members, the annual conference provides invaluable opportunities for sharing best practices, making new connections within the field, and reestablishing relationships with colleagues from afar. But there are limitations to the annual conference model.

Conferences with tens of thousands of attendees can make it hard for a member to target and find the colleagues that will best serve his or her needs. Without substantial research and planning ahead of time, connecting with the colleague who has the answers for your particular career or industry quandary can be nearly impossible. Revere can solve this problem. By creating a private-labeled networking and knowledge-sharing platform for an association, Revere helps members find and communicate with other members who have just the experience, best practices and information they need.

Furthermore, annual conferences are just that – annual.

Are you new to the field looking to meet a mentor? Or maybe you’re mid-career and looking for new opportunities in a new area. Even upper-level executives sometimes want to connect with other executives to discuss industry-specific challenges and solutions. Who wants to wait until the next conference rolls around to make important connections within their industry? Revere’s platform, accessible only by the association’s members, makes networking and connecting with colleagues a reality at any time of the year.

While nothing can replace the annual association meeting, Revere offers tools to improve upon the connections made and the information shared at conferences. Revere creates an online member-to-member exchange that is easy for members to use and easy for the association to manage.

Revere benefits more than just the association’s members. Since Revere creates a private-labeled platform, associations themselves benefit as well. As their members develop closer ties and stronger networks, they are more likely to remain members of the association. Revere allows the association to offer a stronger value proposition to current and prospective members, and that increases membership over time. One professional association using Revere expects a 15% uptick in membership year over year.

In short...

Professional associations can use Revere to build value in their membership programs by fostering more frequent and vibrant member-to-member networking, knowledge sharing and more robust career development opportunities. While nothing can replace the face-to-face interactions of an annual conference, Revere can provide intra-industry connection to association members 365 days a year, building a healthier association and a healthier industry.

The Need for Innovation within Career Centers and Alumni Associations

While colleges and universities provide a broad range of services to their students, by far the most important is preparing their students for future employment. Indeed, one of the most important statistics an incoming student should examine about a particular college or university is the rate at which its graduates are employed. Therefore, schools often dedicate substantial resources to aiding their students’ and graduates’ abilities to obtain and retain post-graduate employment.

Despite graduate employment being such a critical factor in both the success of individual higher education institutions, and certainly of the economy in general, there has been little innovation within the last 25 years in the way in which schools support post-graduate employment. OnlineSchoolCenter.com recently published an article titled “30 College with the Most Impressive Job Placement Rates and Career Services.” Among the top 30 schools there is very little variation in the methods the schools use to support graduate employment.  Almost all of the schools offer:

·      A staff of professional career counselors who provide students with individual attention

·      Assistance in choosing a major

·      An emphasis on the importance of internships

·      Resume and cover letter workshops and one-on-one sessions

·      Interview preparation, from workshops to individual “mock interviews”

·      In-person and LinkedIn networking opportunities

Times are changing

Technology is disrupting the once quiet higher education space. Most universities now offer a closed LinkedIn group specifically for students, alumni, employees, and career coaches where they can post and share both job listings and resumes, for example. That’s only the beginning, however. In order to remain relevant with the Millennial generation and the workplace environments they serve, universities are beginning to innovate.

Revere Software is on the cutting edge of such innovation. It takes the digital connection that LinkedIn provides and magnifies its power exponentially. Revere provides an easy-to-use, private-labeled platform where alumni and students can connect directly with pre-screened alumni. These alumni have offered their time and expertise free of charge. Making the connection between students and alumni more directly facilitates knowledge sharing and improves students’ chances of post-graduate employment. For example, one private Midwestern university using Revere projects that in two years, 20% more of their students will have career-related jobs upon graduation.

In addition to creating direct connections between students and alumni, Revere allows alumni associations and career services departments the ability to measure and monitor alumni and student engagement. This information can be linked to hiring rates to provide the institution with invaluable statistics about its techniques and proficiency in assisting students and alumni in their job searches. Furthermore, keeping alumni engaged and invested in career development for their alma mater spurs alumni engagement in general, which often results in increased alumni giving.

A university’s greatest asset is its alumni. Employed alumni not only represent the educational success of their alma mater, but also offer in-roads to the job market for incoming alumni. As institutions of higher education fight to keep their students competitive in the job market, students (and their parents!) deserve every tool, both the traditional and the innovative, like Revere, that a university can offer.

Greetings and welcome!

We are a company that believes knowledge is meant to be shared and that people in any organization are meant to easily connect and network.  The best nonprofit organizations, foundations, professional associations, educational institutions and corporations can all benefit from tapping their internal brain trust.