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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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Grads struggle with job pursuits


Courtney Kindall, a UH graduate with a master’s in counseling psychology, spends at least four hours a day filling out job applications and combing through internet job search results in an attempt to find a full-time job.

Three months removed from school and with previous work experience the 26-year-old has repeated this routine for about three days a week in what she calls a grueling job hunt.

“It’s definitely an employer’s market,” Kindall said. “I knew it would be tough getting in, but I wasn’t prepared to not have a job at all.”

She is one of many students who have been hit with reality as they’ve begun searching for jobs in a nation with a 9.2 percent unemployment rate. A survey from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals a 12.1 percent unemployment rate for college graduates between the ages of 20-24 for July, a five percentage point increase from June.

UH Career Services counselor Becky Reiter said that the anxiety is reflected in the students who come to visit her daily.

“Everybody’s worried,” Reiter said. “Students that don’t have a job are worried about getting one, and students that have a job are worried about keeping it. It’s a really challenging job market right now, and I definitely feel for students.”

While searching, Kindall has worked part time with the UH Alumni Association and has another part time job lined up. She said a lack of work experience and certifications as well as insufficient preparation by the school as reasons why she is unable to find work.

“It’s just one hurdle after the next,” Kindall said. “I wish the school would have prepared me more. They just kind of said, ‘Hey, here’s your master’s, good luck finding a job.’”

Post-college employment isn’t as dismal as it may seem, though. According to The National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers are hiring more than 19 percent more graduates for 2011and 2012 than last year.

According to a survey on the UHCS website, UH students are offered $10,000-$15,000 more than the average salary.

Reiter said that the most important thing students can do to find a job is to prepare early.

“The biggest thing I would recommend is to do an internship,” Reiter said. “We always recommend that (students) start looking for internships the semester before they actually do it.”

Amanda Jolivet, another 2011 UH graduate, has felt undaunted by the bleak job statistics and unemployment that has affected her peers.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in media studies in May, Jolivet found work on the community relations team at Fort Bend Family Health Center.

Jolivet said it wasn’t her degree that secured her a job at the nonprofit organization, but who she knew and met during her college tenure.

“I found a job quickly due to networking and good relationships with professors. I ended up knowing so many people that building a network in itself helped me get a job,” Jolivet said.

Although their career paths are different, Kindall and Reiter agree with Jolivet’s sentiment. While at Texas State University, Reiter did a one-year, unpaid internship in the bereavement department at a hospice while working 40 hours a week.

Jolivet participated in an unofficial, unpaid internship for Christian radio station 92.1 for four years, where she increased her personal network.

She was also a former employee at the UHCS and saw many students come for help in their senior year. Jolivet said students often regret procrastinating.

“The biggest mistake they make is waiting until the last minute,” Jolivet said. “They want immediate help with immediate results. It doesn’t work that way. You need to get experience, even if it’s unpaid.”

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