There is a considerable debate out there about if college pays or not, but without a job, it certainly is going to cost you. Rivier University is one of the most recent to ‘guaranteed employment’ but they are not alone (see the list at the end of this article). Guaranteed employment from a university standpoint is both good business and good marketing. The challenge for you as a learner is to set yourself up well enough that you do not have to cash in on the guarantee.
What is guaranteed?
Most universities on the list here guarantee employment as long as you comply with their requirements (and if you don’t have employment they will either pay some of your degree cost, give you additional credits or other similar payback systems). The interesting thing is that if you ‘check off’ all of the boxes they recommend, you almost surely will not need the guarantee in the first place.
If you don’t live near one of these universities (or they do not fit you well), there are a few simple guidelines that will help you improve (almost guarantee) your employment.
- Pick a ‘good’ major. Good is subjective in that you need to pick something that is in need, but that you will also enjoy. Even ‘classic’ high need majors (such as nursing) now do not guarantee a job (the nursing ‘shortage’ is gone in most states now), so you need to be careful. What is in need now, may not be when you graduate 4-8 years later. So pick a major that you enjoy, but that is readily employable. Unless you plan on teaching for a living (and right now it can be difficult to find a job teaching) that means majors that directly translate (think medicine, nursing, engineering, computer science, STEM/knowledge careers).
- Attend classes and get a decent GPA. Most of the employment guarantees require you to maintain a 3.0 or 3.5 GPA. Part of this is to keep you engaged, and the other part is that GPA does matter for your first (or first couple) jobs coming out of college (or going into a masters degree). If you blew your first year (or two), this might mean working a bit harder in the next two or even retaking a few classes. Make sure your GPA is best (or near perfect) in your major as those will count ‘more’ to most people.
- Use career services at the University. There are career advisors/counselors in most universities. They can help identify opportunities for you, get a resume ready, do interview prep, and a whole host of other things. Start working with them early (no later than your junior year) and build a relationship with someone you trust in career counseling.
- Get some experience. I know it is hard, but you need experience to get a position, not just a degree. Interning (paid or not) and volunteering is a great chance to get some good experience and build your network (see the next bullet). Your goal is to build experiences that have a wide breadth. It is fine if you want to go to Guatemala to build a public health program for your experience (as long as you can afford it) but make sure you are both learning and serving.
- Network, network, network. Most jobs have 100s of applications, many with the same qualifications as you have. You are going to get an opportunity by knowing someone (or knowing someone who knows someone). Connect with people on linked in (connect with me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jayzigmont ) and stay connected. Join a meetup group of future professionals. As Harvey Mackay says: Dig your well before you are thirsty…
Are you GUARANTEED to get a job if you do the 5 steps above? No. But if you do not do the 5 steps above you are almost certainly going to have difficulty finding a job (and will most likely not ‘qualify’ for any employment guarantee the university has).
List of colleges/universities with published employment guarantees:
Rivier University – New Hampshire
Manchester University – Indiana
This article was written by Jason Zigmont. Jason Zigmont is a coach, consultant and author and can be found at http://www.jasonzigmont.net, on Twitter and Facebook. Jason holds a PhD in Adult Learning and provides coaching services at http://www.jasonzigmont.com.