In a little over a month, close to 1,900 University of Rhode Island undergraduate students will receive degrees, officially earning the title of college graduate. As May 17 leers closer, URI students will have to prepare for the real world and enter the workforce.
According to the annual Survey of Recent Graduates done by the URI Office of Institutional Research, 56 percent of those who responded were employed full time and 26 percent were employed part time six months after graduation in the 2011-2012 year.
While the exact numbers have not been analyzed for recent years, the class of 2015 is a mixed bag of employment, internships and a little bit of uncertainty.
Kyle Riccio, a film media major with a minor in communications is headed to graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Lowell either in the fall or the following spring semester. He plans on studying music technology as a sound engineer.
“A lot of students, like myself, have been in school our whole lives, Riccio said. “It might be good to get some perspective from life outside of school for a semester. It’s weird, for most people school is over forever and everyone [else] is off to the real world.”
Communication studies major and public relations minor Deanna Casey was already headed to the real world on spring break, when she was offered a full time job as a National Leadership Consultant for Sigma Delta Tau. Casey will travel the country to different colleges that have SDT and help with their recruitment and training their executive boards.
Casey said that her involvement on campus helped improve her resume and develop leadership skills. “Using the resources we have and pay for at URI before graduation can put you one step ahead of the game when looking for a job,” she said.
Not all students have their post grad plans figured out, however.
“I don’t have a plan,” said Lilli Paknis, a journalism and French double major graduating in May. She said she’s looking at some internships, particularly one at NPR that would take place in the upcoming fall. Afterward, she plans on applying to a teacher’s assistant program through the French embassy where she would teach English to French students for a year.
“I’m hoping that following my interests work out, however naive that may be,” Paknis said.
Paknis isn’t alone either. Studio art major Katie Wakefield said she has no idea what she’s going to do with her degree after she graduates. She’s looking at becoming a tattoo artist apprentice, but said she feels nervous about graduating. Wakefield said she “doesn’t feel prepared at all” for after graduation.
Among those who didn’t have a job lined up, some students felt that they needed some more assistance from the university to help them in the job field. They said that while their courses were enriching and specialized advisers were helpful, many of them still needed more help.
“I don’t know what would have prepared me more,” Wakefield said. “Maybe teaching us about job interviewing or offered different job options and opportunities. It’s the curriculum that didn’t really prepare us for the real world. The teachers are good, they taught us what they were supposed to.”
Caroline Burns, a nursing major, is preparing for her board exams after she graduates in December. She is not worried about finding a job in her field after graduation, but she is worried about how prepared she will be for the exam.
“We do a lot during school to prepare for boards,” Burns said, but she does not feel that URI does enough. “Many other schools have other programs that help you prepare for them after you graduate, but our school doesn’t have that.”
Paknis said she is aware of the different programs offered for advising and career preparation, but does not think that there is enough “widespread emphasis on the career search.” She wishes there were different programs put in place that would match students with jobs based on interest, availability and what the company is looking for.
“I think career counseling/guidance for all majors, and maybe even for common double majors, would be a really useful tool for students,” Paknis said. “ I would feel a lot better about life after graduation if I could meet with someone and talk specifically about career opportunities and ideas. If something like this already exists at the university, it’s not publicized well enough.”