Help wanted: Graduating into the toughest ‘real world’ in decades

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It’s been talked about your whole university career. It’s been elusive and mysterious. And for students graduating, it has never been a reality until now: the so-called “Real World” you are plunged into after graduation.

But what’s it like? Will you survive in it? And especially in light of the current economic crisis sweeping across North America, will it offer all it has promised? If you’ve graduated this spring, you’re probably asking similar questions.

Even students who have graduated in previous years are still experiencing uncertainty. Caroline Gdyczynski, a 23-year-old McMaster graduate who has just completed a graduate degree at Humber College, has fears about transitioning into the work force this spring.

“I haven’t really started looking and I’m not sure what’s available,” she said. “I’m worried that I won’t be looking in the right places and that I’ll miss out on opportunities because I’m unfamiliar with being in the job market.” Gdyczynski has considered going back to school if she is unsuccessful in a job search.

“I’m looking into Masters and MBA programs to further my education,” she said.  “Going back to school is my back-up plan because at least I will be doing something positive, that will hopefully lead to a job in the long run anyways.” Students like Gdyzynski who have a clear goal are determined to find jobs in their desired field and settling for something else is just not an option.

To help ensure students do end up where they would like to be, universities focus on guidance and career workshops for students. Jennifer Hicks, employment consultant for the Career Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus, is optimistic about students’ job prospects this spring.

“There are jobs available,” she said. “You just have to really look for them.” According to Hicks, the key to being successful in looking is having a strong application package, and she advises students to start preparing as early as possible.

Another piece of advice she gives is to accept more part-time and short-term jobs for the experience they will offer and for where they may lead.

“A lot of students think they need to have a full-time job but you might see more contract positions coming up, especially with the suffering economy,” explained Hicks. “Students should be more open to taking those kinds of positions and not just rule them out because they do not offer full-time work.”

Hicks said that the career centre’s aim is to help students focus their searches more specifically to their areas of interest.

“Focus your job search and target your resumé to your desired field, so that you can represent yourself really well within it,” she advised. “That way, you are more impressive when you go for an interview. If you have a lot of background knowledge about the field or company, and if you really know your own skills, you can communicate them better to the employer.”

The Laurier Career Centre holds workshops once a month for creating resumés, interview skills, and job searching. Other universities are have similar workshops and information about them is likely just a click away on the school’s career website.

Students are advised to follow the advice given by Laurier’s Career Centre, to investigate their own university’s career centres and use the resources available to them. Perhaps then the “real world” won’t be so scary after all.

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About the author

Natalie Gallo is a fourth year journalism student at Wilfrid Laurier University who hopes to make a career writing. She is most interested in magazine writing and also has some background in copy-editing. She has been contributing to TalentEgg since March 2009.