Dailey: After graduation, determination needs to trump bleak job prospects

Columnist argues that while unemployment statistics for recent graduates are gloomy, positivity is key.

John Dailey

John DaileyWhile I can’t validate that pretending to be happy will make you so, I can vouch for the fact that focusing your mind on what could be, helps to keep you determined. Some people seem to effortlessly glide through life without getting hung up on what could be holding them back, but others have to actively try to achieve this mindset.

Life isn’t always smooth and full of jubilation. Some days we must carry on while the rain drizzles down and gray clouds separate us from the hope-filled sky — this seems particularly accurate on the day this is being written, as it is quite literally that type of weather.

It is a difficult job market for college students. Solid opportunities for internships and employment, when found, are often highly competitive.

In fact, according to a Rutgers University study published in May, 51 percent of U.S. students who have graduated since 2006 have found full-time employment. Worse yet, 11 percent remain totally unemployed.

I realize that advising these unemployed graduates to smile in order to trick their brains into believing they are happy may be akin to soliciting a friendly middle finger. However, the alternative of wallowing in self-pity in one’s pajamas is self-defeating.

With the aforementioned figures in mind, the chances of getting a few rejection letters are fairly high for even the most qualified students. As someone who has received a number of application rejections, I can relate that it almost always stings — even if you didn’t really want the position.

I am an “obsessive regretter,” as I like to call it. So for me, determination has been a matter of putting my head down and continuing to trudge along, while trying my best to block out the self-doubt. My view is rather existential because I tell myself that the worst that could happen is that I die or become terribly maimed.

If neither of these has occurred, then I have no reason to stop.

Some students have obstacles that force them to think outside the norm in order to remain positive.

For Kazuhiko Koyanagi, a senior accounting and management information systems major and international student from Japan, it’s a matter of looking at the options available to him.

He said “a big minus” for him professionally, in the United States, is that he is much more limited in his ability to secure an internship than other students.

“I am forced to accept that, as an international student, I cannot get an internship where I get paid,” he said. “Here in the United States, an internship seems to be the best way to get a good job.”

This is the reality that many international students face. They know that even if they are to get an opportunity to apply, it will be a struggle to obtain legal approval to get a job locally.

“For most international students to get a full-time job here, they will need sponsorship and that is expensive and requires lots of legal work,” Koyanagi said. “It can be expensive and it’s just not that easy.”

Koyanagi will walk down the aisle at graduation this coming January, but isn’t yet sure as to where he will be working. Still, he’s not afraid.

“I already have experience in a foreign culture, the United States, and I know two other languages besides English,” Koyanagi said. “I can go back to Japan, I can stay here or I can go someplace else — I’m not really worried about it.”

Koyanagi is an example of how one international student remains undaunted by focusing on his personal skillset and other opportunities.

The worldview that international students have is definitely impressive. They are seemingly freed from what many of those of us who were born here see a defined path.

Sometimes there are barriers to doing an internship or landing an awesome job. Other times, organizations may just fail to see what a great candidate you are.

I’m also graduating in January, so from one student on the job hunt to the rest of you out there: Regardless of the complication, I guarantee that it’s almost never as bad as you think it is.

We Temple students are, in our own right, determined and driven individuals. I’m sure you’ve seen Temple Made advertisements. Let’s do the advertising campaign justice.

If you experience any setbacks in the job search, then search yourself for positive motivation and try again. Don’t give in.

Just keep your chin up.

John A. Dailey can be reached at john.dailey@temple.edu.

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