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Graduation: What’s on the Other Side?

Many in the Class of 2015 are searching for jobs, and as summer approaches, they are worried about how long it will take to find one. Some graduates are even wondering if the last four, five, or six years of college classes were worth it.

“There are great skills that come from just the process of working towards a degree,” said Douglas Marriott, director of the Los Angeles Valley College Cooperative Education Program and Job Resource Center. “Every year there are upwards of five million new jobs.”

Still, the Labor Department reported last month that unemployment for Americans in their 20s who earned a four-year or advanced degree last year, has increased to 12.4 percent. The rate climbed about 1.5 percent since 2013.

“Even though there are increases in jobs, there are more people going after your job,” said Patricia Gaynor, Assistant Director of CSUN’s Career Center.

In order to stand out, some graduates search for ways to make their resumes more competitive, including deciding to get a master’s degree.

“With a graduate degree, you’d have more specific skills to share in the workplace,” Marriott said.

“Degrees and education are never a waste,” Gaynor said. “Sometimes we may use them as a way to sort of sway away from where we want to go right now.”

One problem employers face is finding people with the proper training, even for entry level positions.

“What we are finding right now is that there are more people that just don’t have the skills for the jobs,” Gaynor said.

According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce,  Medical Technology and Nursing are the two majors with the lowest unemployment rate.

“Any kind of technical background is going to be more needed,” Gaynor said, adding that engineering is another area with low unemployment. Gaynor said graduates who keep up with the newest technologies will also have an advantage. “Whether it’s public relations or it’s working in an office, you still need to keep those skills up, and you still need to be aware of what’s going on in the world and what is changing.”

But Marriott said employers are also seeking people with degrees in English or Liberal Arts because of the skills they develop in school. Communication, friendliness, and leadership ability are all examples of so-called soft skills, also called emotional intelligence, skills many employers seek in their recruits.

“I think it’s a matter of the applicant or candidate aligning their transferrable skills to the job that they want,” Marriott said.

Marriott said interacting with potential employers through events such as job fairs can be a good way to establish a relationship.

“There are many jobs that aren’t advertised,” Marriott said, noting many employers may already have someone in mind for a position. “They think of somebody and refer them.”

Plenty of resources are available for soon-to-be-graduates who are looking for work, including help with resumes, cover letters and developing interview skills.

“I would encourage students to stay positive, quantify their experience, and give themselves credit for all the skills they have,” Marriott said.

“Sometimes [getting a job] can take awhile,” Gaynor said. “It’s going to happen. You just can’t give up.”


Moderator: Briseida Holguin

Producer: Cristal Canedo

Anchor: Nancy Moreira

Reporters: Samantha Benitz, Ashley Goosen and Ken Harvey

Social Media Editor: Beau Akers

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All Work No Pay

Despite juggling four specialized coffee drinks in one hand and a pile of paperwork in the other, many interns are still able to speak out about being exploited in the workplace.

According to the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor and Standards Act, employers must meet six criteria when it comes to justifying an unpaid internship:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship;
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

But increased unemployment rates in the wake of the Great Recession seemed to have given some employers a chance to blur the lines set by federal law, and several lawsuits filed by unpaid interns claimed employers took the educational aspect away from interns, in favor of excessive work that should have been done by paid employees. The courts tended to agree. The renewed attention to the issue has meant a change in policy for some employers, who now report their intention to pay their interns, or in some cases, to drop their internship programs altogether.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that most employers say they do use internships to recruit new employees.

“I think internships lead to jobs if there’s a job for them to lead to,” CSUN Cinema & Television Arts Professor Kim Paul Friedman said. “In my personal experience, I haven’t seen companies create jobs for interns.”

But Friedman said if a company finds a candidate who is good at what they’re doing, enthusiastic and hardworking, companies will take notice.

Jordan Helo was the internship coordinator at CSUN’s Career Center, and held many internships herself, both paid and unpaid.

Helo agreed that internships do not always lead to jobs, at least not always with the company providing the internship.

“From my experience, an internships hasn’t directly led me to a job in that company, but to the next internship or position, and has worked as sort of a resume builder,” Helo said.

Interns and legal experts agree that while the federal law doesn’t require internships to lead to jobs, it does require them to lead to training and experience. If they don’t, the interns should be getting paid.

“If you ask people to do real work, then they should get real pay,” labor attorney Manuel H. Miller said.

But Friedman said the recent lawsuits against employers probably won’t stop all employers from offering unpaid internships to students willing to learn and in need of experience.

“Laws, rules and all that are only as good as your ability to enforce them,” Friedman said.


Moderator: Danny Max

Producer: Stephanie Murguia

Anchor: Bryan Ramirez

Reporter: Candice Curtis, Stephanie Murguia, Ugochi Obinma

Social Media Editors: Ugochi Obinma, Gabriela Rodriguez, Candice Curtis

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