Spring break is now in the rearview mirror, and graduation is just around the corner. The job market, somewhat surprisingly, has remained strong, which makes it all the more likely that many seniors have already found jobs. If you are a senior who does not have a firm plan for next year, it may seem like everyone you know has a job, a graduate school acceptance, or a fellowship all lined up. This is especially true at a school like Penn, where so many students wrapped up their job search during the fall semester, when popular industries like banking and consulting make their offers.
It is true that just over half (51 percent) of last year’s employed students had their job by the end of first semester. But almost as many didn’t get the offer they accepted until second semester, or after graduation. And that’s fine. Some students aren’t interested in the opportunities that many classmates covet. Nor should they be. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” If you have remained resolute that you want to follow your own path in the face of lucrative, popular choices, congratulations! If you were too busy to deal with the recruiting circus last fall, that’s OK. And if you did pursue positions and weren’t selected, don’t panic.
The fact is, many employers in a broad range of fields don’t recruit new college graduates before spring at the earliest. They do what we call “just-in-time” hiring. A few facts: of those who took jobs in the public interest sector, almost all (97 percent) got their jobs in the spring, summer, or even fall after graduation. Of those going into media and entertainment, 72 percent took jobs second semester or later. That’s also true for the 66 percent who took jobs in the federal government. Almost two-thirds of Penn nurses (64 percent) got their offers second semester or later. For those going to work in startups, 60 percent took jobs in the spring, summer, or fall. If these fields interest you, now is the time to be actively networking and applying for positions.
I reached out to recent graduates who accepted positions second semester or after. Here is some sage advice from them.
2017 College graduate Peter LaBerge, who is a content marketing associate at Branch, wrote, “It helped me immensely to remember that finding a job is not about acceptance — it’s about fit … It may feel like you’re the only one who hasn’t found yours, but you aren’t. You can rush finding a job, but not the right one.”
2017 Engineering graduate Nick Wein, now a robotic process automation developer and consultant at UiPath, echoes this thought: “While it was stressful at times to see so many people settled in and finished with the recruiting process, I'm very happy that I waited for the right opportunity to come along at UiPath before accepting a position I was unsure of. Looking back, I would say that patience was as crucial as any technical interview preparation.”
2017 College graduate Rebecca Silver, who now works as a recruiting coordinator at ZocDoc, provided this advice: “It's not worth it to compare yourself to others — doing so will make you more unhappy than productive. Better to compare yourself to how you've progressed throughout the job hunt … What I learned from this experience is that it's perfectly normal not to have a job by the time you graduate from college, and everyone finds a job that's good for them eventually … In fact, some of the most interesting companies don't start recruiting recent grads until the summer or fall anyways! So graduating from college without a start date does not mean that you won't find a job that's a good fit for you. And when I say a good fit, I mean a good fit. It doesn't need to be an incredible fit. Your first job is not your last one, and a good job is a step in the right direction. Additionally, reaching out for guidance from Penn alumni and Career Services were incredibly useful tools throughout my job search. People want to support you during this time — and asking for help is necessary when trying to navigate the murky waters of your job hunt."
So there you have it: fit, patience, asking for help. Take advantage of this strong job market: over 100 positions are posted every day on Handshake, and over 3,000 full-time positions were posted in the last month. Make sure you complete your Handshake profile so that the jobs that align with your interests will appear first.
All of us at Career Services look forward to helping you in the coming weeks, and beyond. Enjoy your senior spring, and good luck!
PATRICIA ROSE is the director of Career Services.