When it comes to getting hired, the time of year you walk across the graduation stage may not make much of a difference.
No matter whether you receive your diploma in December or May, your odds of getting a job are more or less the same, said Carl Van Horn, researcher and director of the Heldrich Center of Workforce and Development at Rutgers University.
Van Horn, along with Cliff Zukin and Charley Stone, conducted a study on how graduates from 2006 to 2011 fared on the job search during the Great Recession. The May 2012 study, Chasing the American Dream: Recent College Graduates and the Great Recession, is a follow up to another study Van Horn did on 2006 to 2010 graduates.
Based on those surveyed, Horn said, it didn’t matter when they graduated, but across the board 43% took positions that didn’t require a bachelor’s degree.
“Students who had work experience did better than those who didn’t [have any],” he said. “If you did an internship that was job related to your field, you did better.”
That was something that concerned Tiffany Stevens, a 2012 December graduate from the University of Georgia who majored in women’s studies. Aside from personal circumstances, she had only done one internship in her career field.
“I wasn’t worried about experience other than the fact that the other people had interned at more prestigious, new organizations so I felt they would have more leverage over me,” she said. “Luckily being a writer at the The Red and Black [the University of Georgia’s student newspaper] hooked me up with something.”
Stevens, now a reporter with the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, said she’d be concerned even if she wasn’t a December graduate. May grads, she said, have it just as hard.
“My concern was ‘it’ coming on Christmas season and they won’t have money to hire people.’ In May, you start a bunch of summer jobs that are temporary and May grads might get lucky with some job they interned with, but that job may only last two months,” meaning the graduate would have to start the job search all over again.
Joshua Gray, a 2012 May engineering grad from the University of Miami, said he applied to various companies every day up until graduation before landing his job at SICK, Inc.
“There was a time I was applying to a job every day and would sit online and send out resumes to thousands of places,” he said. “Just trying to get people to call you back was difficult.”
Gray, who found his job through Monster, said he thinks, in some ways, May graduates have more of an advantage with companies.
“I would say that the good thing about graduating in May is that a lot of companies know that students are graduating in May and they hire in the summer.”
Still, Van Horn said despite successes, there are still graduates who still don’t have jobs, including some who’ve obtained their bachelor’s a few years before others.
“The economy has been improving. We’ve had positive growth in over a year, but there is still a big hole in unemployment,” he said. “We don’t know the effects yet.”
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