Unhappy WKU grads search for jobs after school

Maciena Justice

Kara Key said she thought when she graduated she would be able to find an immediate job in broadcast news, ideally in Cleveland, Ohio – though she was open to anywhere – just to get her foot in the door.

But when Key graduated from WKU in December 2010, no jobs were waiting.

“I didn’t think it would be this difficult,” Key said.

She said she started out slow, looking and just trying to get a feel for what was available, but Key still has been unable to find any employment that would further her career. Instead Key found only part-time jobs that could just help with little income.

Key said she learned more about the job hunting process after graduation.

“I didn’t know what to expect until I really got out (of school),” she said.

Key said the biggest challenge she faced was the fact that she felt as if something was wrong with her.

“I ask myself, ‘What did I do wrong when I go through the interview,’ and still don’t get the job,” she said.

Another WKU alumnus, Amanda Montgomery, graduated with anthropology and horticultural degrees but has been looking for a job for more than a year, yet nothing can be found.

“Nothing is hiring for horticulture,” the Greenwood, Ind., native said.

Montgomery’s department posted internships and field schools opportunities and provided help with curriculum vitae, but it wasn’t enough.

Montgomery and Key all discussed the financial ramifications due to their circumstances. They have all had to cut back on their normal spending.

“I’ve been forced to live with my parents,” Montgomery said. “I can’t pay my bills or student loans.”

Between 2008 and April 2011, the job market declined by seven million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics.

So what should current students do to prepare for the real world?

Robert Unseld, an associate director with WKU Career Services, said students should start early with their career search.

“Students need to get serious about job searching,” Unseld said.

Unseld said most students know they are graduating the August before, and they must actively work to gain employment.

“Time in, success out,” he said.

Unseld said that is isn’t just about the best resume, but instead the best complete professional package. In order to gain employment, students have to be able to sell themselves.

“Students must be able to articulate what makes them a good fit,” he said.

Unseld said that in this economy, students have had to adapt like no other generation because a person can’t just walk into a place and get hired.

“Email is not enough,” he said. “There is something valuable in being well dressed and walking into a place and shaking the hand of a hiring manager.”

Unseld’s biggest tip for a student is to have confidence and have an understanding of what you are bringing to the table.

“Buy a nice suit,” he said. “A good first impression is a great start.”