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On the hunt: searching for jobs in an increasingly competitive market

As reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 86 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds with bachelor’s degrees (or higher) were employed in 2017. While this was a significant 8 percent lead on the average employment rate for young adults that year, Burning Glass Technologies and the Strada Institute for the Future of Work found that between 2000 and 2017, 43 percent of U.S. college graduates’ first post-graduation jobs did not require a degree. Jaison Abel and Richard Dietz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York also claimed that in 2013, only 27.3 percent of college graduates were employed in a position fit for their major. This phenomenon, called “underemployment,” correlates to lower lifetime wages, fewer in-field prospects and a lower reported professional satisfaction.

Studies indicate that a student’s first job out of college can be pivotal to their career, and current students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County are vying to secure positions. While the recent university-sponsored career fair brought a crowd of its own, other students are forging paths independent of the university toward gainful employment.

“It’s really all networking now. I got experience, I also networked a lot during the work I did with the DoD and HP and Booz [Allen Hamilton],” says one computer science senior (due to the sensitive nature of his post-graduation plans, he asked that his name and specific company be kept out of this article). He attended Praxis Engineering’s “Let’s Just Talk” conference last Tuesday, after his current company’s Vice President personally extended him an invitation. “He invited me, and I invited a few of my computer science friends and my girlfriend, because she’s computer science, too,” he says. “I just help a lot of my friends find jobs now — networking goes both ways. I already accepted an offer for after I graduate, but it’s always good to keep networking and see what everyone else is doing in your field.”

However, the job prospects between STEM and humanities majors vary greatly. Humanities careers require different candidates, qualifications and work samples, and connecting with people can prove even more vital for these students, according to print media sophomore Lily Hsu. “I definitely need to bulk up my portfolio and social media presence, because that’s how future employers or customers will be able to see my work,” Hsu explains. She is considering a wide variety of careers, and looking at a variety of ways in which she can utilize her degree. “Maybe I’ll be a freelance artist or maybe I’ll work for a company, I don’t know. Most likely I’ll become an art teacher,” she says. “It’s definitely going to be hard … I’ll have to be actively looking and hustling for people to see and buy my work.”

With the recession over, newer graduates are fortunate to face an easier starting job climate than their older siblings did. Nonetheless, a fair amount of effort should be expected from students in all majors in the collective search for degree-fitting employment.