Now or never

So, what do you plan on doing after graduation?

That question lingers in the back of every college student’s mind, especially the minds of upperclassmen close to graduation.

But it’s not so much the question that bothers students; it’s the answer, or in come cases, the lack of one. According to a poll conducted by Twentysomething Inc., 85 percent of college seniors in the U.S. planned on moving back in with their parents after walking across the stage and receiving their degree. That number is up from 67 percent in 2006, but with unemployment at about 15 percent among U.S. citizens in the 20- to 24-year-old range, it’s not difficult to see why.

It’s scary to think of, but all of us students here at Grand Valley State University will someday come face-to-face with the fact that we won’t always have the university to rely on. Sure, we’ll be Lakers for the rest of our lives, but we won’t always be able to enjoy the unique opportunity to live independently while taking advantage of some of the services and safety nets that the university provides, such as free access to the recreation center, an on-campus counseling center, free rides on the Rapid, student employment, study abroad opportunities, free tickets to football games and volunteer and internship opportunities. All of it will be gone.

And that’s all the more reason for current students to take advantage of all of the networking opportunities available, namely the various career, internship, study abroad and graduate school fairs, while they are still here.

Think about how difficult it is to get an interview with an employer. The average employer spends only 15 to 20 seconds looking over a resume and cover letter before deciding whether or not a potential candidate for a job has a chance of filling the company’s needs. The resume and cover letter are designed to get you to the next step, but many alumni fresh out of college fail to get to that stage, especially with unemployment rates hovering where they are now.

The university, however, eliminates that problem for you through its various fairs. Not only do the fairs give you an opportunity to showcase what you can do face-to-face with a potential employer rather than solely through a couple of pieces of paper, but they bring the employers to you, an added benefit that you won’t have when you graduate. It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be set once you leave from under the university’s wing, but it will certainly make you more experienced and ready to enter the job market outside of school.