By D. Hill
As students begin planning for graduation, they must also take steps to find jobs in their fields.
“So, the big thing that they can do is come to our spring or our fall job fair and connect with employers face-to-face like that,” Taylor Bingham, the Amarillo College career and employment services coordinator, said. “Definitely a good way to network and meet new people. Actually, 65% of jobs are done through networking. That’s usually why we encourage students to go meet people and at fairs just because it’s cheaper and it’s a lot easier to find a job because you’ve met somebody.”
Bingham also said she encourages students to take advantage of online job search tools. “We have our new system that’s going to launch Nov. 1 called Grad Leaders that students go on and they activate their account completely free, then they input their student ID, and then after that, there will be tons of jobs that are posted for them to apply for those employers who are looking for AC graduates. They can also come to visit our office and we can customize their resume, and set up an interview and cover letter critiques,” she said.
Some AC grads said their job search went smoothly. “I went online just to see what kind of media jobs were available that would work with the degrees that I got from both AC and West Texas A&M and the first job I saw was for NewsChannel 10,” Jojo Gipson, a reporter for the “Amarillo Globe News,” said. “And I thought that’s a news channel I watch a lot. At WT, I took a video class where we worked with cameras and stuff, so, I figured, why not give it a shot?” After starting her career at the television station, Gipson moved on to a position as a reporter for the local newspaper.When faced with getting a new job, salary does play a significant role for students. Bingham said that entry level salaries depend on the career field. “We have a really cool website called Career Coach where they can go and search their major and see different jobs and how much they would make,” she said.
Some graduates are not prepared to negotiate salaries. “I was just happy to get my foot in the door,” Gipson said. “I’m a shy person and I was too nervous to ask for more money.”
But salary is often an important consideration for new graduates, since many students live with their parents during college, but decide to flee the nest once they find a job in their career field.
“So, when I first started at NewsChannel 10, I was still living at home,” Gipson said. “And then I finally decided to move out with my best friend once I started this job at the local news. It’s a little bit of a struggle, but it’s because I have to learn how to manage money. So, if you give anybody a tip, tell them to learn how to manage your money before you dip out of your parents’ house.”
Bingham said graduates can take steps to earn more money and learn how to budget.
“They can go get another stackable certificate, and that can help with that. Also, knowing your budget is really helpful. That’s what I always tell my clients from the very beginning, to make your budget and know your bottom line because that’s absolutely going to help them get into salary negotiations with employers.”
Bingham also recommends a website called Texas Reality Check. “With that resource you can actually make a sample budget. And then from there, they actually give you careers that show what it looks like you’ll make so you can survive,” Bingham said.
Bingham did have some words of encouragement for future job seekers.
“When seeking a job, don’t just apply for one and then stop and say, ‘I’m gonna get that,’” Bingham said. “I encourage my clients to have a spreadsheet and keep track of the jobs they apply for. Just keep applying. Be patient. Sometimes it can take a while. If you get stuck, come to our office or give us a call, and we’re more than happy to help you out.”