A Thought or Two for New College Graduates – Part One of Two

By Dr. Robert Brown

The month of May is now history but it is a wonderful time of year.  Temperatures have climbed, birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and the sun sets after 8 p.m.  For those who live in much cooler climes, it’s nice to finally be able to shed the layers of clothing for lighter fabrics and brighter colors. May is also the month of commencement, the rite of passage that takes place on college and university campuses across the country.  This moment is the culmination of years of hard work, sacrifices, stress, financial challenges for many, sleepless nights, doing what is required and ultimately, reaching the goal.   It marks the end of one journey and the beginning of another.  For all that have earned their baccalaureate degrees and to their families and friends, I say CONGRATULATIONS!

During  a recent conversation with a student, I asked what her plans would be after graduation.  She replied “…well, I guess that I need to start looking for a job.”  I was a bit startled by what seemed to be lack of concern on her part but I was not surprised.  There will be many graduates who will join the ranks of the labor force through internships and entry level positions in their chosen fields of study.  These opportunities came as a result of due diligence by these students and their advocates while they were completing their degrees, which will be a needed springboard to gain job and life experiences. For many more, however, the outlook isn’t quite as bright… yet.  For those that “graduated on a Saturday and began to look for a job the following Monday” as I like to put it, I offer a couple of suggestions, not to dissuade, but to provide information to inform understanding and decision-making:

  • The economic collapse of late 2007 continues to significantly affect finding work:
  • The job market is employer-friendly rather than employee-friendly.
  • Job scarcity has significantly increased competition for jobs (see Part Two).
  • Finding work can take much longer (i.e., six months to well over a year).
  • Available jobs may not be in your area of study and may not require a degree:
  • Resist the temptation to allow your ego to talk you out of taking a job that may be below your skills levels and may not pay what you think you are worth.
  • No matter the job, do your best because there is honor in all work and you never know what doors this opportunity may help to open.

REALITY CHECK:  While the aforementioned items can make finding a job very frustrating and anxiety-producing, this is one of many, many steps in your life’s journey.  What you have to keep in mind is that this is not an indictment of you, your talents or skills but of an economic system that has changed dramatically and is affecting people of every race, social class and region of the country.  As challenging as it can be, STAY POSITIVE NO MATTER WHAT!


Continue to be well.

Dr. Robert Brown


About Dr. Robert M. Brown III

Robert M. Brown III, Ph.D. is a medical sociologist and adjunct professor who teaches courses in Introduction to Sociology, American Society, Medical Sociology, Urban Sociology, Health Policy and The Family. Dr. Brown is an advocate for students’ success in the classroom and beyond. He encourages students’ commitment to life-long learning. He also believes that higher education is an important tool for success in the 21st century which should be used in tandem with other skills sets to facilitate superior academic, work and life achievements. As a researcher, Dr. Brown provides technical assistance to federal, state and local and private agencies to promote: (1) health empowerment for at-promise and mainstream groups; (2) stress management; (3) family and community violence reduction and prevention; and (4) understanding about the reciprocal relationship between economic stress and health. He has written and published on stress, strengthening families and family and community violence. He emphasizes the importance of looking at health holistically, as a state of mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and economic well-being. Dr. Brown has been a featured guest on radio and television programs around the country as well as a speaker on these topics. Dr. Brown earned the doctorate degree in medical sociology from Howard University and he is a native of the Washington, D.C.

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