By Calyn Hoerner
Soon after earning their degree, college graduates begin the job search. Many graduates, however, will find themselves falling behind some of their competition, simply because they did not focus on professional development in college, and they may not know what to expect in the “real world.”
“Professional development is a step that every student needs to go through,” said Carlton Howard, a senior at Ole Miss who maintains jobs as both a facility manager at the Turner Center and an interventionist at Batesville Junior High. “Working on this skill is basically giving you a step-by-step guide to what employers are looking for. It’s pretty much like getting the answer to a test.”
Peter Tulchinsky, director of the Department of Campus Recreation (the Turner Center) at Ole Miss, said professional development is important. Campus Recreation employs around 200 Ole Miss students.
“When you look at research, and you look at what employers say about people entering the workforce, they list all these skills,” he said. “Really. for the most part, the majority of these are soft skills – things like leadership and communication and how you interact in a team.”
Oftentimes, employers will ask potential employees about these skills and for specific examples about how they acquired them.
“If you don’t have an answer for those questions, then you’re not going to position yourself as well as some of those other candidates, who do have those answers,” Tulchinsky said.
“Jobs during college really prepare students for the real world,” said Morgan Korte, a sophomore customer service representative at the Turner Center. Korte is studying integrated marketing communications.
“It teaches us responsibility and time management skills, and helps us make connections for after graduation,” she said.
Leigh-Mikel Young, a customer service representative at the Turner Center, said getting a job on campus is convenient. “You can work a shift or two right after class without really having to go anywhere. If you don’t have a car, it isn’t a problem at all.”
Young is a biology major who is currently enrolled in 15 hours, with her sights set on the Dean’s List.
“I chose to get a job on campus because I knew it would be much more student-friendly than it would have been off campus, which I have found to be true,” said Korte.
One of the main misconceptions surrounding student-employment is that it would be a struggle for students to maintain their grades. This may be the case for students who work off-campus, but students who work for the university can have some control over that.
“Campus employers won’t have students work more than 20 hours a week, where as off-campus employees might be expected to do more than that,” said Tulchinsky. “There is also more flexibility with time. Most on-campus jobs have you working two- or three-hour shifts versus a seven- or even nine-hour shift off-campus.”
Korte said some students think having jobs will effect their social and academic lives negatively.
“But, I have a job, and a social life, and I make good grades, so that isn’t an issue at all,” Korte said. Along with her job, she also partakes in Greek life.
Every student’s goal is to land that dream job after college. The only way they will achieve that is to build their résumé in college and develop themselves professionally.
“Really look for positions that help you develop he skills you think you will need for work after college,” said Tulchinsky. “Look for things that show progressive responsibility. You know, positions where you can start at a certain level and continue to climb the ladder. That demonstrates to employers that you have the skills and competencies that they are going to look for in an employee.”