Western students put best foot forward - in new shoes

17:23, July 06, 2010      

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College is a crucial stage in life where a future is forged by choosing a major. All the while, students have one goal in mind: to graduate and find a job in the working world.

But what happens on the big day of completion, and more importantly, what happens after college when graduates have to start looking for a job?

In Western cultures, graduations are viewed as an important stage in a young person's life. It is customary for parents and extended family members to attend them and two parties are generally held, one among the graduate's friends and the other among family members. Cash and small gifts are given to help graduates while they search for a job.

Mike Fukesman, who graduated college a few years ago, said only his parents showed up. His sisters and other family members wanted to attend but could not, due to other circumstances. He also had a small get-together with his friends.

The celebration is brief however, as graduates have to muscle their way into the working world. Finding a job in some aspects can be just as difficult as securing a degree.

Making the right impression on the right person is how most graduates secure an internship or a job.

Fukesman was one such graduate who was offered an internship at a local English newspaper, right before graduation.

"I have no clue what I would've done if I hadn't gotten an internship - I put pretty much all of my eggs into that one basket," he said. Fukesman stayed after his internship in Beijing and has been living in the city for about a year now.

But not all students are so lucky. Only one in four students have a job waiting for them after graduation, according to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in America.

With no job offers at the time of graduation, many find themselves back at the start: their parent's home. Collegegrad.com has conducted annual surveys of college graduates, finding that nearly 80 percent of them move back home.

To stay away, grads are sending out resumes and cover letters in the dozens. The job interview is the last step to securing a career. It's also the first impression that employers have of graduates, so it's important to dress professionally.

"I spent a lot on clothes. I'm skinny and tall, so it's hard to find stuff that fits me," said Karyn Piechule, who graduated from Pennsylvania State University in May.

"I bought two suits for $200. A nice shirt cost $20 and my heels were expensive too," she said.

Despite the high price to look good for an interview, Piechule doesn't see it as a waste.

"You're more confident if you look better. Buying clothes that fit makes you feel more professional."

But it's not just clothes that help with a job interview.

"I believe that appearance is an important part of the job interview process because your appearance is the first thing potential employers notice," said Thomas Leskin, who also graduated from Pennsylvania State University this past May. "If you look like you just rolled out of bed with a shaggy haircut and facial hair, it's not going to send a good signal."

Leskin said he spent about $300 on a suit for job interviews.

Finding a job after graduation in the West isn't always as easy as walking into an interview, but with a little knowledge and sometimes luck, graduates can make a smooth transition from student to professional.

Source: China Daily


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