To our readers: In a CNBC interview, Marcus Melonis, the CEO of Camping World, a billion-dollar company, shared tips that helped shape his career. “Take any job you can just to get into the momentum of getting up on Monday morning and finishing on Friday night. If you can’t find a job in the field you’re interested in, take any gig you can land, even if it pays only $12 per hour.” So did Melonis offer recent grads good advice? GoodCall® asked experts to weigh in.
Should recent college grads take the summer off to rest?
Jim Davis, assistant director of the Lubin School of Business Programs and Services at Pace University Career Services, tells GoodCall®, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to take a summer off after graduating.” Davis believes students lose momentum when they do. “Also, most employers are expecting students to be ready to go when they graduate – I don’t think it sends the right message to employers who want motivated workers.”
Monique Frost, associate director of Career & Professional Development at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University, thinks the answer depends on whether the recent grad has a job lined up. She tells GoodCall®, “If you are a recent grad and do not have a full-time position in place, then I do not recommend taking a summer of rest.”
Instead, she believes that grads in this situation need to spend their time looking for job opportunities and building or honing their skills. “Employers will be curious as to how you spent your free time prior to being hired,” Frost says. “It is wiser to be prepared with an answer that demonstrates your professional proactiveness verses your pursuit to have a relaxing summer.”
On the other hand, she thinks that recent grads who have secured full-time employment might want to relax. “Transitioning into the ‘world of work’ not only eliminates afternoon naps, but will certainly shift the free time and availability a recent grad will have in the summer as a new professional.” Frost concludes.
If recent grads can’t find a job in their field, should they take any job?
Frost believes this situation depends on the grad’s financial situation. “Certainly, those who have immediate financial needs should accept a job that will meet those needs.” But, she feels that grads with a financial cushion – and who don’t have any student loan debt – have a little more freedom. “These individuals should consider taking a month or two to conduct a hard search for the positions that they are most passionate about or explore other careers that will afford opportunities to gain skills in the areas that could be barriers in their current job searching process.”
Laureen Campanelli, assistant director of the College of Health Professions & School of Education Programs and Services at Pace University Career Services, believes recent grads should pursue their dream job, but also be realistic. “For the first three months, aggressively target your ideal positions and employers, based on research, networking and regular submission of applications.”
After that, she recommends expanding the job search to include a variety of employers who may be looking for a similar skill set. “For example, a teaching graduate may already know their ideal school district but may not be qualified or competitive enough yet for that role – but, if you don’t get hired at first, be strategic and think about what you can do to stand out.”
In case you’re wondering what “standing out” would entail,” Campanelli provides an example. “If the school district has a well-known science program, consider starting an enrichment club for students or pursue a science certification – do something that will make you stand out as a science educator.”
She also recommends applying with another school district that has a good reputation for professional development programs. “This may be the ideal place to grow as an educator – remember, it’s always about skills attainment, so spend a few years building your skill and apply again to your dream school. Recent research reveals that the skills gap is costing companies almost $1 million a year, so honing your skills is a good career move.
However, Amy Murphy, director of the Center for Career Development at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, doesn’t think grads should feel they need to take the first job they find if they don’t think it’s a good fit. “Job searching is more than sending out resumes – spend the summer conducting informational interviews and shadowing,” she tells GoodCall®.
“Learn from those who are in the field, expand your professional network and from there, identify entry-level job opportunities – and, suddenly you’re a known entity and not just another name in a database.”
But, all of our experts agree that it’s impractical to doggedly try to hold out for the perfect job and advise recent grads to remember that this is just their first job – not their forever one. Unfortunately, only 13% of the U.S. workforce is passionate about their jobs.
Should recent grads move back home to save money?
Typically, recent grads are pursuing financial independence, but Frost believes the decision to move back home should be based on facts. “Recent grads should conduct research (prior to graduating) to evaluate the return on investment regarding moving back home or accepting a position elsewhere.” She recommends the NACE Salary Calculator, as well as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as good sources to find salary information that can be weighed against the cost of living.
Living at home also can provide career freedom. For example, Campanelli says, “Moving home may allow you to take a risk, like working at a start-up or completing an internship that may lead to a full-time job.”
However, recent grads who stay at home should avoid being freeloaders. “There is no shame in moving back home to save money, but please buy some groceries, clean the kitchen and offer to pay a bill now and then,” Murphy says. “Your family will appreciate it and you will too.”