Al Barron, Career Services Director at Southern University, shares tips for new graduates (and their parents) who are finding it tough to enter the job market



Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in’s sister-site, THE BLACK COLLEGIAN Online in a series for new graduates connected with the Jobs-for-US-Louisiana special promotion.  Jobs-for-US provides targeted job search help for workers in the state seeking employment opportunities, as well as special promotional incentives, advice and online job search tools to encourage young people entering the job market. For more information, please visit Jobs-for-US section at the link below.


Name: Al Barron
Title: Career Services Director
University: Southern University

The first thing an individual should do if they find themselves unemployed at Graduation is celebrate.  Yes, celebrate!  Celebrate the fact that they’ve graduated from college and that they’ve accomplished a major goal in their life. Next, they should make an assessment of their past to see why they’re at this point. Let’s look at two scenarios for examples of the types of students that graduate from college today.

The student in the first scenario entered the university with high scholastic achievement. During her freshmen year she visited the Office of Career Services, met with the Director and his staff, and made herself available to the companies that visited the office. She also attended all Career Days and company presentations. While in College she had an internship and a co-op. She interviewed for several positions prior to graduation. She was close but yet no one offered her employment.

The student in the second scenario entered the university without a real clear purpose of why he was in school. He thoroughly enjoyed the extra-curricular activities, parties, football games and all of the great fun things college offers. He attended class. He did well in some, not so well in others. He found excuses not to go to the Career Services. He may have attended one career day out of four and only wanted to interview with the top companies. He never followed-up or took time to learn the process of networking. He too finds himself unemployed at graduation.

Each year, each semester we see both of these hypothetical situations in our office. Students are disappointed at being unemployed upon graduation and need advice. Although both are unemployed, our advice to the student who has done all of the things that we encourage is different from that offered to the student in scenario two. This is the advice we give to the graduate in scenario number one:

  • Stay the course
  • You have a college degree
  • You’ve been trained will
  • You’ve had internships and/or co-ops
  • You’ve gotten great reviews from those individuals

The job market is tough right now but you should contact those individuals who you’ve worked for to let them know you’re still available for employment. Sometimes employers assume you’ve been hired elsewhere. Also, keep in touch with your Office of Career Services and those individuals you met at career day and professional and/or business conferences. In addition, use the web to search for job opportunities.

Remember you are your own company, you’re an awesome individual, and you’re a college graduate. Have faith in yourself, stay close to your family and remember your first job is not your last job. We all must start somewhere. You will eventually be employed.

As for the student in the second scenario, our tone is totally different. We start off with the phrase that the party is over. Although, the prospects are dim and bleak, you too will be employed because you earned a college degree. This is a time to get serious about your future. The question that you must ask is, “would you hire you right now?” You must be honest with yourself.

Once steps are taken that show you are serious about your future employment, positive things will begin to happen. In fact, I’ve seen situations where the student in the second scenario didn’t get employed first.

Parents, celebrate the fact that your son or daughter graduated college. They’ve reached a milestone you set for them many years ago. You’ve made sacrifices. You’ve paid for the car, the clothes, and the apartment. You’ve taken out loans in anticipation of them going out on their own. Now four, five, or six years later they’re back at home. I can imagine that this is a depressing experience but you must continue to motivate and encourage. Stress the importance of sticking to it. Encourage them to keep getting up everyday looking for employment. You must also make it a little uncomfortable. You must relay to your child that what they see today is not how you started. The paradise they’re in today is not theirs it’s yours. They must create their own paradise. Before I had a dining room table my wife and I used to eat at a card table. We dreamed of one day buying a dining room set. Remind them that the journey of life is what makes life so wonderful. They will be successful because they have a good foundation of education.


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