The small, cluttered office is cozy and homelike, not exactly what you’d expect from a place where such important life goals are made into reality. Judith Carruthers sits with one leg tucked up under her, a knowing smile on her face, as a reporter bustles into her office, clearly flustered and in a hurry. Within minutes Carruthers has the reporter at ease. She has clearly handled the nervous energy of seniors with too much on their plates many times before. She recognizes that seniors at this stage in the game are often overwhelmed with the task of graduating and figuring out where they are going next.
“I don’t think they even want to say ‘hi’ on campus for fear that I’m going to ask them what they are doing after school,” Carruthers said.
Students all over are feeling the pressures associated with graduation and the subsequent job search.
Castleton State College senior Lani Willard is a major by contract in sociology and psychology. She admits that she feels pressure from the adults in her family to have her job situation figured out.
“Especially people like my grandma, and those that have watched me grow up because I feel like they expect so much out of me. I’m afraid that if I don’t start going into the job field right away I will be disappointing them in some way,” she said.
Willard went on to describe the anxiety she feels about her field.
“I feel that if I try to get a job right now in a psychology field, my chances are very slim because I would only have a BA, and now-a-days when jobs look at your resume they want to see a MA,” she said.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 2010 marked the worst annual unemployment rate for people 25 years and over with a bachelor’s degree since the government began recording data in 1992.
These kinds of statistics only magnify the unease with which Castleton seniors face with their impending graduation this year. In a tough economy, many are wondering if their education is going to be enough to help them land that all-important first job.
Mykael Harrigan, a senior theater arts major, feels like the cards are stacked against undergrads from the beginning.
“It’s impossible, you spend all this time and money to get an education and then you go to apply for jobs, and you don’t have the experience you need. So you have to go back to school for your masters, but by the time you get that finished, you’re over-qualified and they can’t afford to pay you anyway!” Harrigan said.
These anxieties aren’t unique to Castleton either.
University of Vermont senior psychology major, Dan Cheney, says the pressure for students at UVM is showing as well.
“Graduation means the real world, and with the job market the way it is, that’s a scary thought,” Cheney said. “Most graduates can’t find jobs, can’t afford to live and end up having to run home to their parents. If my situation ends up like that I’d almost rather just stay in school.”
According to an article on graduates returning home in the Baltimore Sun last June, Cheney is right.
“A survey of last year’s college graduation class showed that 80 percent moved back home after getting their diplomas, up significantly from the 63 percent in 2006.”
Carruthers thinks that part of the problem is that new graduates panic right off the bat and give up on the job search far too fast.
“To find a really good job is still going to take a senior three or four months, that’s just how it is, so don’t panic” she said. “Go start looking for the companies that you think might have a job for you, don’t put your resume on Monster and hope for something.”
But Tom Walker, a CSC alum who graduated last year, has some good news and advice for graduates.
“At first it was really difficult. I would apply to a lot of nature-esque jobs every day, like five a day or so, but I saw this place called Westaff, which is a temp agency.
It puts you in places that need filling and they asked me what I wanted to do for work. I said renewable energy. Then after one or two temp jobs they asked if I wanted a job at Efficiency Vermont, I said yes and after working there temporarily for two to three months, a job opened up. I applied and got it,” he said.