SRU Career Education offers graduates ‘transition’ planning
Feb. 25, 2016
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Many newly minted college graduates face financial, time management and work relationship challenges as they transition from the University to world of work. To better prepare students for the adjustment, Slippery Rock University's Office of Career Education and Development has expanded its outreach and plans to organize a life-after-college mini-conference.
The conference, offered in conjunction with alumni engagement, would be for seniors preparing to make the transition.
The change won't be easy for many of them. According to Katharine Hansen, creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, most college graduates are "totally unprepared" for financial responsibilities, the stress of living on their own, balancing work and personal life and dealing with all types of people and personalities.
"One of the most overwhelming issues we hear from recent grads is that college did not prepare them for many challenges they faces as they made that transition from college to careers," Hanson wrote in, "Making A Successful Transition from College to Career: Time for a Reality Check."
Another harsh reality is free time and vacation time, she said. "College students are used to taking long weekends away from campus - on top of extremely long winter and summer breaks. Most colleges also have mid-semester breaks. Unfortunately, most employers are not that generous with time off."
Many graduates will have to settle for a job outside their field, at least initially. According to a 2013 report from the Center of Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, 36.7 percent of new graduates will start off in jobs that do not require the college degree they earned.
Renee Coyne, assistant director of the Office of Career Education and Development, said some graduates experience frustration with their job search because even though they received the "highest level of undergraduate information" in their SRU classes, that doesn't always land them the job they expect right out of college.
A major challenge many graduates face that SRU addresses, Coyne said, is helping students to factor in student loan payments into a monthly budget.
"Many of them graduate in this fog not knowing how much they owe, who the loan provider will be, or how much they will owe each month," Coyne said. "We're trying to give our students some control by teaching them how to find this information, so that they can make a plan and start to budget."
She said another area that graduates find scary is making new friends and building a community they're comfortable with at work.
"The working environment is not always filled with their peers. Coworkers will likely not be of the same age, and new graduates need to know how to connect and build relationships," Coyne said. "Once they get out there working, sometimes they feel sad in their first job, and what they can't put into words is that they're struggling to build relationships."
A student needing senioritis advice can contact the office anytime, she said.
"Although the transition from college to first full-time job can be challenging and stressful for new graduates, the career office is continually investing in new programs which not only strive to prepare our students for professional success but set the stage for financial and emotional success as well," Coyne said.
Several programs the Office has already launched include, "Bills, Budgets and Benefits, Oh My," and "Dress for Success" workshops.
Coyne said since leading "Bills, Budgets and Benefits" workshops, she has been asked by faculty and staff to present similar information during their senior seminar classes and at student club meetings.
Coyne said she covers topics such as understanding college loans, developing budgets, building relationships at work, negotiating salaries and explaining benefits packages. She surveys health insurance options, explores professional expectations, provides advice for buying a car, saving for a house and tempering job expectations.
"We care deeply about our students and future alumni. We believe in sharing with them the relevant information they need to be well-rounded and prepared graduates," Coyne said. "This transition is part of our role."
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