The latest unemployment rates still show those with bachelor’s degrees have a leg up when it comes to getting and staying employed. In 2012, 8.3 percent of people with only a high school diploma were unemployed, compared to only 4.5 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, students with bachelor’s degrees should only be cautiously optimistic. Facing a stagnant economy and a lean job market, current college students and recent graduates face growing competition in their quest to begin a career. The increasing competition among similarly educated and skilled workers is making it even more important for candidates to rise above the rest.
In 2012, for the first time, a third of the nation’s 25- to 29-year-olds had earned a bachelor’s degree, compared to less than one-fifth of young adults in the early 1970s, according to a Pew Research analysis of census bureau data. This begs the question – what can college students do prior to graduation to stand out among the stiff competition?
"Living life in the front row," during college can help pave the way for long-term career success, according to Jon Vroman, author of “Living College Life in the Front Row” and 2013 Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities College Speaker of the Year.
“We all make the choice whether we are going to be a spectator of life ‘in the back row,’ or a participant of ‘life in the front row,’” says Vroman. “I teach that proximity is power.”
Vroman’s formula for "living life in the front row" can help college students set themselves up for success after graduation – despite the stiff competition. The formula can be broken down into three parts:
Connections are crucial
“Many students are so focused on building relationships with their peers, they often lose sight of developing strong connections with their professors,” says Vroman.
“DeVry University, for example, recruits professors with real-world experience, who often work in fields related to the subjects they teach. Students can learn from people who may either hire them directly, or refer them to someone who can.”
“A college advisor once shared with me the saying, ‘Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.’ We become like those who we surround ourselves with, and connections formed in college are vital for career growth and development.”
Create your own reality
“For most graduates, their success is in direct proportion to how resourceful they choose to be, inside and outside of school,” says Vroman.
In an increasingly competitive labor market, it’s essential for college students to take advantage of the resources around them that can prepare them for their future.
Utilizing a college or university’s career services department to apply for internship opportunities within your field of study or joining on-campus organizations are just a few of the steps students can take to lay the groundwork toward reaching their career goals.
Make conscious commitments
Career success does not happen overnight, but it can be achieved if you are fully committed to your goals and have done the necessary work to help navigate your way to reaching them.
Before selecting a college or university, students should research the fields they are interested in pursuing to ensure they are in demand.
DeVry University is an example of a school that strives to align its curriculum to the skills demanded by growing industries where its students can find rewarding careers. DeVry works with Fortune 100 companies to ensure graduates are prepared to be successful in current and emerging career fields.
“It’s vital to be fully committed to your career goals,” says Vroman. “Because when you’re committed, you’ll let nothing stand in the way of achieving them.”