HBCU Graduates Coming Face-to-face with the Job Market
By: April C. Thornton
While students attend a histrionically black college or university, we create opportunities and prepare ourselves to land that dream career after graduation. We spend endless amount of time sitting in the classrooms listening to our professor’s ‘life changing’ lectures, hearing our advisors give us ultimatums if our career plan does not work accordingly, volunteering and interning at organizations just so they can remember our names and know that we want to be considered for an opening position and finally sending cover letters and resumes to apply for various job positions. So, why are majority of African American alumni finding it difficult to achieve a prosperous career after graduation?
In March 2011, more than 190,000 private sector jobs were created nationwide. This may sound like music to the ears of alumni looking to jump start their career, but that musical sound comes to a screaking halt. The private sector jobs that have been created are opening positions for Panera Bread, Wal-Mart, grocery stores and temporary positions in the government. Except for government positions, these jobs pay their employers minimal wage to only work for a few hours a day. These jobs are not custom fit for African Americans with a Bachelors and/or Master’s degree. Alumni have dedicated these years in school to avoid a career making minimal wage and working at the local mom and pop store.
Jennifer Woods graduated from Bowie State University in spring 2010 with a degree in Communications. Woods admits that it has been a difficult process in trying to find employment in her field. “It seems like everyone has some kind of ‘hook-up’ to get the job they want,” says Woods. Even though she is content with her present position as Sales Lead at Ann Taylor Loft, she is optimistic that one day she will have the opportunity to start her career in communications.
We all know how much society stresses the importance of higher education. We see every media outlet advertising educational establishments along with their subliminal messages to students. Everest College motto is Career Education Life and Bowie State University motto is Prepare for Life. As, students we acknowledge our institutes motto as being true, but as soon as we graduate the motto becomes a faulty message. Society’s perception is that achieving an academic degree can increase someone’s chances in finding employment. This is not necessarily true. I guess the saying is true ‘It’s not what you know but who you know.’ This is the reality of HBCU graduates coming face-to-face with the job market.