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#125: HaoRan Chen – Not everyone graduates with relevant work experience

HaoRan Chen

“Employers: please do not base your decisions on past experiences – base it on the individual, their ideas and work ethic.”
HaoRan Chen, Graduate, McMaster University

From the first day of entering university, I have always thought about the steps after graduation and how the job hunting experience was going to be. These thoughts were intensified in the last couple of months of my fourth year of studies and, since graduation, they – along with many other aspects of graduation – have become pressures.

After watching many of my friends around me struggling in the job hunting process, I realized that this was not easy for anyone and it wasn’t just me who had these troubles. Ever since graduating and starting the job hunt, which has not been very successful at all, I have only gotten my first phone interview less than a week ago.

After the interview, I thought about the aspects of it that went fairly well and aspects that did not go so well. The day following the interview I became very anxious and nervous to hear the results, which turned out to be not so positive.

I have been applying to jobs both online and in person (by conducting information interviews with managers), but all I heard was ether “sorry there are no current openings” or just nothing at all. It has been an extremely frustrating couple of months and is not what I was expecting going in and coming out of university.

Most jobs require “experience,” but for graduates like me who did not have the opportunity to get an internship or co-op during the fours years at university due to the absence of a co-op program, these experiences are minimal. The only such experiences many of us have are the part-time jobs we had during university, and those are not the types of “experiences” employers look for.

After seeing many of my friends delay job hunting by going back to school, either by attending college or graduate programs, I realized that university is not all it has been made out to be.

While speaking with many professionals who are established in the job market, they always ask me which I thought was more valuable: university or college.

After putting much thought into this question I realized that college helps its students by providing hands-on opportunities both in school and outside of school with co-ops and internships. While most university students are stuck with the knowledge that we gathered from our textbooks. So which do I think is more valuable? College of course.

Employers favour those individuals with hands-on experiences and not just the stuff that is in textbooks. Even though university does possess a better environment during our education, it definitely does not help us when we graduate. Even though universities do provide career workshops and seminars (and I have been to quite a few), many of them do not help, and/or provide information that is so broad that we already knew and heard a million times in the past.

For many graduates, the jobs that are available are those of customer service or general labour types, which under its requirement states a high school diploma was all it required. If that was all we needed to get these jobs, why did we go to university? Sometimes even these jobs do not want us because we are “over qualified.”

While still looking for a job to start my career I can say truthfully that job hunting is not easy and it might take up to a year for new graduates to start off their careers, and I often ask myself: How is this fair? Why are university students who were looked up to in the past now struggling to compete with others who have less education?

Where I am now

I am still in the process of job hunting. I applied to at least 50 job postings as of today and have only heard back from one, which turned me down. I applied to volunteer and unpaid internship opportunities which I have yet to hear back from. Everyone always says, why don’t you go do graduate studies? But not everyone can get in. The grade requirements for these programs are fairly high and most of us do not have these types of grades.

My recommendations for employers, schools and career centres

Employers should give more interviews and opportunities to recent university graduates. I know this is easier said than done, but most of us university graduates will bring new ideas and work ethics to the workplace and help companies move forward.

I know that experience is important, but those of us who did not have related experiences are still more than competent enough to work and develop in a business. Employers: please do not base your decisions on past experiences – base it on the individual, their ideas and work ethic.

My recommendations for students

My advice for recent grads like me is to never give up! No matter how many employers ignore you or turn you down, NEVER for a second think that you are unworthy! Because we as new graduates (no matter the program) are all full of potential, and we are just waiting for that one company or organization willing to take that chance to develop and take advantage of it. All university graduates should be appreciated because, for us to survive university, we must be doing something right!

This #StudentVoice belongs to:

HaoRan Chen
Double Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Sociology
McMaster University

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