A recent survey by Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts found that college graduates are struggling with their transition into the workforce, prompting a debate over who is responsible for their lack of preparation.

Bentley President Gloria Cordes Larson noted that while many surveys reveal that businesses are finding graduates unprepared for the workplace, recruiters that her administrators work with – as well as the university’s study – tell a different tale.

“What I’m hearing is, ‘We’re all a part of the set of solutions,’” Larson revealed in an interview with Inside Higher Education. “There’s definitely a head of steam that’s building with career preparedness.”

Though Larson’s experience with company recruiters seems to back up the survey’s results, some still see room for student improvement. Katharine Farmer, recruiting specialist for Valero Energy Corporation in San Antonio, said, “When I’m on campus at recruiting events, I feel that some students are not as prepared as maybe they should be.”

When asked what students can do to better prepare themselves, Farmer adds, “Students should take advantage of everything on campus. Utilize (the university’s) career services and have a resume reviewed. Do a mock interview so you have confidence going into the real thing and build your network.”

Karen Ivey, assistant director of Student Services with UTSA’s Career Center, agreed. “Networking is huge. We want students to feel confident and know how to build professional relationships.”

In addition to offering help with networking, the Career Center conducts mock interviews on site, often bringing in recruiters to aid in the process. Stefanie Cisneros, a UTSA career counselor, said, “We bring in employers that conduct these interviews, and it’s great to pair up a student with them and get feedback from an actual employer who’s doing the interviews on a daily basis.”

Career advisers agree that students are most successful when they receive advising freshman year. Farmer stated, “I think students need to place an emphasis on their career search early on and not wait until it’s too late. I love it when I see freshmen at a career fair. Those students are on top of their game.”

Ivey also believes that students should come to the Career Center early on and make return visits throughout their academic career. “The ones that we continue to see are committed to the process and are coming back in. It’s so exciting to watch the student grow.”

Internships are one of the many ways college students can gain valuable experiences and skills necessary to make the transition into the workforce. Ivey offered, “We’re encouraging internships. Finding relevant experience boosts (a student’s) confidence level.”

Farmer agreed, noting, “I think internship experience helps with career preparedness and overall confidence. Students who have had internship and/or related work experience going in to an interview stand out among their peers who don’t.” She also believes that those students will better adapt to their job responsibilities.

Farmer’s experience with college graduates encompasses both ends of the spectrum. “I see a lot of students with great internship experience, high involvement in organizations and solid resumes for the most part.

“UTSA students have a strong presence at Valero, not only in our internship program, but those hired full-time as well. I think UTSA students are afforded a lot of opportunity since it is such a large school.”

However, she is all too aware of the flip side. “I’ve also seen many graduating seniors who didn’t take advantage of all that their university has to offer – career services, internships, student organizations, networking events – and their resume lacks the ‘meat’ to make them stand out to a recruiter or hiring manager.”

Farmer concluded, “Finding a job takes effort; don’t think it is just going to land in your lap. Set goals for where you want to be, and tailor your job search – and the offer you ultimately want to accept – so that they line up with those goals.”

In addition to mock interviews and individual career counseling, UTSA’s Career Center offers the RowdyJobs online job bank, professional development workshops, résumé reviews, etiquette workshops and a Career Closet, where students who might not own professional work attire can borrow, free of charge, a suit or outfit to wear to an interview.

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