Students focus on careers

By Mike Linn

Lori Noland feels lucky she’s on the verge of landing a job in her field, just three weeks after graduating college.
The 2004 Eastern New Mexico University graduate said she has been through the interviews, and if she gets security clearance, she’ll work as a contracting specialist for the National Security Agency, making $33,000 a year.
“I was really surprised it was that easy,” she said. “It’s still hard to believe. I don’t think it’s that easy for other people.”
In a competitive market, Noland is part of a growing trend of students bent on entering the mainstream workforce after college — and sticking around.
Her resume includes a long list of extracurricular activities that she said makes her more attractive to prospective employers. She played on Eastern’s volleyball team in 2000, was the Accounting Society vice president, served on the Associated Activities Board and was a member of the Silverado dance team.
Besides extracurricular activities, Noland paid special attention to her resume, spicing up its appeal with the use of a graphic designer.
Thorough preparation for careers has become a defining characteristic for the class of 2004, The New York Times recently reported.
“The students today are more into goal planning and goal setting,” said Cindy Baldwin, division manager for Accounting Solutions in Albuquerque. “Twenty years ago people who were just out of school would throw something together on their resume, and it wasn’t real impressive. What we’re finding now is young people, even some high schoolers, are putting together some beautiful resumes.”
After raising a family, succeeding financially is second among goals for college freshman nationwide, reaching its highest point in 13 years with almost 74 percent of college freshman noting it as an important or essential life goal, according to a UCLA survey titled the American Freshman: National Norms for Fall 2003.
The 2003 survey includes the responses of 276,449 college freshmen at 413 of the nation’s baccalaureate colleges and universities.
By contrast, students’ desire to “develop a meaningful philosophy of life” dropped to 39.3 percent, reaching its lowest point in the history of the 38-year survey.
“These contrasting trends reflect the continuing tension between extrinsic and intrinsic values within this generation of college students,” said Linda J. Sax, UCLA education professor and director of the survey, in a press release.
The survey also shows the percentage of college freshmen who said they participated in volunteer work as high school seniors (83.1 percent) and held an “A” grade point average (46.6 percent) reached an all-time high in 2003.
Sax said this growing trend yields “clear benefits” for students “inside and outside the classroom.”
The survey adds credence to what educators and college recruiters describe as a more focused and dedicated group of college students, ones who are finding any number of avenues to impress prospective employers.
Ty Walker, Eastern’s director of counseling and career services, said students are more apt to tailor their resumes to be job specific.
“We don’t just take that one resume and one size fits all anymore,” Walker said.
Walker said more students are willing to relocate — especially early in their career — to take jobs. He said in the past relocation wasn’t necessary.
“You have to be so versatile now,” Walker said. “Competition is more keen now than it ever was before.”