My Struggle With Finding a Job After College

A diagram with the words "job search" in the middle.

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Look, I get it. I’ve been there myself. I graduated from the University of Iowa with my Master’s in Library and Information Science. While that’s not your typical “basket-weaving degree,” I will say that I did struggle to find employment after college.

It took me a total of eight months to find a job once I graduated. Even then, my first job out of college wasn’t within my field. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was so desperate for employment that I took a job as a secretary for $15 an hour.

My meager wages combined with my lack of self-confidence spiraled me into a deep depression. I was poor, humiliated, and completely dissatisfied with how my life turned out. I couldn’t help but to think I wasted six years of my life on a degree that was essentially useless.

However, I’m here to tell you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But I’m not going to sugar coat it: it takes a whole hell of a lot of effort to reach that light.

For me, I had to sacrifice one of the values I hold dearest to me: family. I grew up in a small town in Iowa. After college, I confined my job hunt to places within the surrounding area. I didn’t want to break away from my parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. They mean the world to me.

But I knew that if I wanted to get the job of my dreams, I had to start searching in other areas. I eventually ended up taking a job in St. Louis. Again, it’s not how I originally envisioned my life, but I’m a lot happier now that I’m making more money and working within my chosen field.

My advice for you is this: get out of your comfort zone. What boundaries, values, or rules have you set for yourself that are holding you back? What are you afraid of losing if you let go of this particular belief? What do you stand to gain if you let go of it?

Japanese Universities to Axe Liberal Arts Programs

University of Tokyo banner

Public Japanese universities will be significantly cutting their liberal arts programming.
Image: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

In an effort to make college grads more employable, Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is requiring public universities to rework their programs. “Rework,” in this case, seems to primarily mean cutting liberal arts offerings.

All 86 of Japan’s national-level public universities were required to submit restructuring plans by the end of June if they wanted to continue receiving funding. With universities relying on the government for 70% of their revenue, it’s not surprising that they jumped to comply with the new regulations.

Obviously, some sort of change is needed. In a country where workers used to stay with one company for their entire lives, more than 30% of college graduates now quit their first job within three years. And companies are constantly searching for workers with better social and organizational skills as the economy becomes more globally oriented. It’s not surprising, then, that Abe would want universities to move toward more opportunities for innovation and research.

But is cutting liberal arts really the best way to go? “We…need to come out of the ivory tower and listen to the real world,” said Katsushi Nishimura, a law professor at Ehime University in western Japan. On the other hand, “traditional fields like arts, literature, history, and social sciences are also—and will always be—important,” said Bruce Stronach, dean of Temple University’s Tokyo campus. And of course there’s the time-honored tradition of a broad liberal arts education being the starting point for college students to assess their skills and interests in terms of future employment.

Still, the truth is, Japanese universities aren’t currently serving their students as well as they could. While middle and high schools in Japan are notoriously academically intense, a recent survey by the education company Benesse Corp. found that Japanese university students spend less than two hours each week on studying outside of the classroom. In addition, falling asleep in class in routine.

On some level, the answer could be more closely aligning Japanese business needs and university offerings. “The industries need to explain clearly what skills they are looking for in the students,” said Minoru Amoh, a former DuPont executive working on education form at the Japan Association of Corporate Executives.

But do these changes really need to come at the expense of equally important and already threatened liberal arts programming?