Well-prepared, value-driven graduates enter a dynamic job market

Graduates looking to enter the workforce can tap into the resources of the University’s Toppel Career Center, along with the academic skills they’ve honed, to help them find that first job.

Students graduating this spring are entering one of the brightest job markets in recent memory, according to University of Miami career specialists Christian Garcia, associate dean and executive director of the Toppel Career Center, and Virginia “Ginger.” Baxter, assistant dean of Graduate Career Advancement and Engagement at Miami Herbert Business School.

“Companies are hiring, and there’s a lot of hiring going on,” Garcia said.

Toppel celebrated graduate prospects and cited freshman career outcome statistics for the Class of 2021 that documented 98% of students — the highest in the University’s history — achieved their goals. , whether it’s finding a job, getting into college, starting a stint in the Peace Corps, or joining the military.

Yet Garcia – who weathered multiple recessions, the September 11 terrorist attack and waves of market ups and downs during his 21 years at Toppel – pointed out that while there are always challenges, regardless of the economic scenario, a progression holds true: “Proactive and diligent students always find work. It doesn’t change.

He highlighted the unique challenge for this next generation of students: finding work with socially responsible employers who respect the issues that concern them.

“Students today, and it started with millennials, are really focused on work-life balance,” Garcia said. “They want to make sure they’re going to adapt. That there is a place for them in the organization, that they will be supported, mentored and connected to people who look like them and who share their values ​​of identity, equity and inclusion.

“With this generation, we’re trying to help them understand what they want to do and also get them to understand and recognize that your first job isn’t the end of everything,” Garcia said.

Baxter also highlighted the optimistic outlook for new college grads and outlined several key industry trends, including virtual interviews, flexible hours, and work-life integration that are used and prioritized by students.

“While many students prefer an in-person recruiting experience, the shift to virtual interviewing is here to stay,” the assistant dean said. Virtual options lead to more interviews before a student receives the offer and more career coaching touchpoints.

Before the pandemic, employers might have had three rounds of interviews — a phone screen with human resources, an interview with a panel of key stakeholders and a one-on-one interview with a hiring manager, Baxter noted.

“Now, with the ease of virtual interviews and the concern that the new recruit may have a short-term mindset, we are seeing five and seven rounds of interviews before offers are extended to ensure that both parties align with form,” she said. “Because interviews are held on student time and not in person at a career center for a specified period, the student is asked to manage their own appointment schedule, which is difficult for many.”

According to Baxter, another trend facing employers and new grads is how to provide flexible work arrangements while maintaining team connectivity, training and growth.

“The story of the in-person, remote hybrid is still being written,” she said. “We are in the realignment phase where employers are learning how to attract and retain new college graduates, and students are learning the language of work and how to engage across generations in a work environment.”

Garcia said Toppel has made great progress communicating to students that they should engage with the center early to help them sort out their goals and interests and then maintain that connection. He credited the center’s model – explore, prepare and connect – with driving this success.

“We do a lot of exploration around career assessment, some based on personality, some more based on aptitudes or interests,” he explained. “We’re trying to broaden their view of the world of what a career can be.”

Garcia said students often don’t recognize that their major area of ​​study can be applied to a variety of industries and settings. Toppel staff can help students broaden their view of the workforce, which ultimately increases the number of opportunities available to them.

The Preparation segment provides the cogs and bolts for a student’s career search – cover letters, personal statements for graduate school, and developing and critiquing their online presence.

And a big part of Toppel’s efforts, he pointed out, is helping students connect.

“Not just to potential employers, but to other people who can open doors for them — alumni, other peers, like through ‘Cane2Cane,’ an online platform,” Garcia said. The center offers two major job fairs, one in September, the other in February, but also niche job fairs – for accounting, marine atmospheric science, architecture, communication, STEM – all year round.

Any or all of these could turn into an internship, a facet of the workplace that has become essentially invaluable for student careers.

“Any work experience is beneficial, but the beauty of internships – when done well – is that students would do meaningful, team-based, project-oriented work where they have a supervisor who acts more like a mentor guide,” Garcia said. .

The idea of ​​an intern being hired to do cheap labor is just an old idea.

“Now it’s reversed. An internship is a training ground that allows students to make mistakes,” said Garcia, adding that it is important to expand this opportunity beyond just internships.

Data shows that students who have at least one internship have more offers upon graduation and are offered much higher starting salaries, according to Garcia.

Baxter pointed out that students at the University and other colleges receive exceptional training to prepare them for success in the workplace, support that includes career coaching, resume reviews, interview preparation, job postings, internships, mentoring and job fairs – in-person and virtual.

“Look for opportunities that enrich your life and find leaders who inspire you,” Baxter said. “Don’t be distracted by location or salary. Be energized by taking risks, failing, reflecting on what went well, and celebrating the journey. The first destination isn’t the last destination, and as long as you develop a passion for lifelong learning and career acceleration, career satisfaction and financial and professional rewards will follow.

Garcia echoed the idea that the first job is, well, a first job.

“It’s more about gaining experience and building building blocks in your career,” he said. “It’s important to recognize that they will not only have multiple jobs, but they will have multiple careers. »

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