Months before graduation Ayana Bethea, a senior business marketing major at Savannah State University, is in search of a career in her professional field. Bethea, 22, a native of Hampton, Georgia calls her search for a job, a full time job in itself.
African-Americans will have to work twice harder to be employed in their professional field after graduation than their white counterparts. All college graduates have a challenge getting into a career, butthe Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that it is harder for African-Americans because of race alone.
Bethea is unsure that corporations will hire her with her kinky natural hair.
"I'm insecure because of my hair," Bethea said.
She asked her professors for advice about hair styles that come across as professional for her interview with car insurance company, Geico. They advised her to straighten her hair or put it in a bun.
Ayana Bethea, put her best foot forward and has faith that she will do well on her second interview with Geico and get a job after graduation. Yet she says that she still finds it hard.
"Us as African-Americans to penetrate certain markets and corporations that we may want to join or get into, because we have so much against us," she said.
In 2010, 60 percent of graduates had jobs that require a degree and only 27 percent worked in careers in their major field. Young black graduates 24-29 had an unemployment rate that was 9.4 percent higher than the peak unemployment rate for white college students which was 4.7 percent.
EPI shows that controlling factors such as age, gender, and educational attainment have not caused the unemployment gap between whites and African-Americans. Instead, discrimination plays a large role in the increased unemployment or underemployment rates for African-American students.
Coordinator of Placement Counselor Yakima Anderson, for the school of business at Savannah State does her best to prepare her students for graduation. Students who use her service are taught skills to help them thrive in a professional environment.
“Based on our statistics that we keep we have a 70 percent employability rate meaning that at the time of graduation 70 percent of that graduating class is full-time employed," said Anderson
With an employment rate of 70 percent Anderson’s tips are worth sharing.
Below are tips on succeeding in the workforce after graduation from Yakima Anderson, SSU Career Service Counselor, Jordan Riles Ogden and Forbes writer Susan Adams:
Tips and Advice :
Take advantage of Internships before graduating. It is good to do at least one professional internship before graduating, and Ogden suggests students do multiple.
Check university and web for resources such as career services, job shadowing opportunities and workshops. Career services can help polish resumes, find jobs and internships, and help prepare you for what is to come after graduation. Professors can help locate resources and they are a important resource as well, use them.
Network. Find a mentor that has been in your position and has been successful at obtaining a career in their field. Adams, advises students to create a LinkedIn account. Another necessity in your network of contacts is a sponsor which is a person in your related field who can get you an interview or knows someone that can.
Join a professional development group. An untapped resource is organizations that have to do with your major or perspective career. Most universities have professional interest groups that will be great for networking, experience, and forming relationships says Adams.
Students are encouraged to begin this process as soon as freshman year.