Planning ahead essential for job-seeking December graduates

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Savannah Hopkinson
BYU Career Services employee Olivia Oldryd helps another student, Amanda Jones, review her resume. Career Services helps students find jobs and internships by helping with resumes, networking and job exploration. (Savannah Hopkinson)

BYU students graduating in December are often looking for jobs outside of the time large companies typically recruit. But that can be an advantage if they plan ahead, according to BYU Career Services Director Jodi Chowen.

Chowen said Career Services has only been keeping track of statistics for December graduates for one year, but in that year, about 21 percent of December graduates reported they were were seeking employment, versus 19 percent of April graduates. However, a higher percentage of December graduates said they were already employed full time.

Lesli Mortensen is a BYU English major who is graduating in December. She started looking for jobs during Thanksgiving break.

“Actually, I’m kind of happy that I’m looking for jobs right now because I feel there’s less competition,” Mortensen said. “in the college school year, there is definitely a high time for people looking to apply and a low time. I don’t think that happens as much in the professional sector.”

Savannah Hopkinson
BYU Career Services, located in the Wilkinson Student Center, is a resource for students who need help with career exploration or resumes. Career Services Director Jodi Chowen said it’s important for winter graduates to plan ahead if they want a job right after graduation. (Savannah Hopkinson)

Chowen said most large companies hire in early fall for the following summer, so the fall semester career fairs are meant for people who want jobs in the next summer.

Although some companies hire for the beginning of the year, December graduates often don’t match up with a company’s cycle, which could leave them at a disadvantage.

“In part, it has to do with the time of year that it is and the holidays and company parties. It’s not full-on recruiting time — that happened early fall,” Chowen said.

Still, Chowen said students who graduate in December “can do just fine if they plan earlier and prepare.”

Chowen said well over half of BYU students are employed within three months after graduation, and over 90 percent are employed at six months from graduation.

“The BYU education is so valuable that (students) should not have a problem getting employed by three months out, they may just need some help to know how to go about finding that job, and we’re here to help them do that,” Chowen said.

Ali Smith will complete the BYU nursing program this semester. She is planning to use the time after graduation to look for an internship. With her nursing degree, she could work in many different places, but she doesn’t know what she wants to specialize in yet.

“A lot of places for nursing want a year of experience, and after that year you have a lot more freedom,” Smith said.

Mortensen has also found many jobs require experience. She said she is glad she worked at the BYU Writing Center and BYU Magazine to give her the years of experience she needed to apply.

“More specialized jobs give you more opportunities for special projects that are especially interesting on resumes,” Mortensen said.

According to Chowen, students in majors with a more direct track, like teaching or computer science, typically have a higher employment rate closer to graduation than majors with more options and a less direct track.

She said this isn’t because the majors are holding them back, but because the students need to make decisions about where they want to go with those majors.

Chowen said Career Services offers resources for career exploration and decision making, so students who are not sure what they want to do with their major can get ideas and help finding jobs that will fit their interests. Career Services also provides career directors who help students looking for internships and employment.

However, students who plan ahead can have a smoother transition at graduation regardless of the time of year, according to Chowen.

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