Q: I am a 2001 graduate from North Carolina A&T, who is unable to find a job in my major. I have had to settle for a part-time, substitute teaching job in my state of Alaska. I have begun taking courses toward a master’s degree in another major/concentration so I can get a good job and pay my student loans. This is not only a growing concern for myself but also for my colleagues and other recent grads.
–L. Banks, Anchorage, Alaska
A: It might sound cold to say “join the club,” but as a new entrant to the workforce in this stagnant economy, you are now among an even larger pool of talented, educated — and already experienced — professionals who are frustrated with the lack of job opportunities. Your best approach to finding a job is to become more focused and strategic. You also need to broaden your scope in terms of where you are willing to look for work.
In Alaska, overall unemployment rose from 5.7% in February to 6.7% in July of this year. You don’t mention your field of interest but you have to be realistic about the available opportunities in your area of the country.
Going back to school could be a strategic move, but a master’s will not guarantee work. It could, however, better position you for a career opportunity. Before you continue taking classes, investigate the requirements for your intended career target. Your field may value work experience over a second degree. Until you find steady employment, consider interning in your area of interest while you continue teaching. As for your student loans, let your creditors know that you are not employed full-time, and have them work out a pay schedule that’s comfortable.