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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

John Kerry offers optimism for future college graduates

Despite+the+anxiety+many+college+students+feel+regarding+the+current+job+market+and+what+the+future+holds+for+them%2C+Senator+Kerry+remains+confident+that+progress+is+being+made.

Despite the anxiety many college students feel regarding the current job market and what the future holds for them, Senator Kerry remains confident that progress is being made.

President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of State, Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), believes in investing in higher education so students can afford the degrees needed to start successful careers. Kerry has spent a lifetime in public office, serving as the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts under Michael Dukakis from 1983-1985 before being sworn into the U.S. Senate, where he has served for 27 years.
These days, making sure young people can afford an education is imperative, Kerry told The Mass Media. “That means that as we watch the debate in Washington, where a framework for our future investments is being determined, we have to be certain that we aren’t trading funding for lifelines like Pell Grants and affordable student loans in exchange for lower taxes for the wealthy.”
Kerry’s comments come at a time when many struggling college students dread graduating because they will be faced with the harsh realities of limited job opportunity and unforgiving student loans.
Such concerns are evident not only in conversations around campus but also through such forums as Generation Stuck, a project developed by WBUR at Boston University. The National Public Radio (NPR) news station recently gained publicity as an online outlet for college graduates to share frustrations about unemployment, underemployment and student loan debt—all consequences of the economic recession that began in December 2007.
“No doubt about it—these are tough economic times, and it’s the direct result of bad policies that were in place before President Obama took office,” Kerry wrote in an email to The Mass Media. “You can’t be successful if you’re starting off on the wrong foot, and that’s exactly what we need to focus on to make sure young people finishing school now have something to look forward to.”
Isabel Ortigoza, 20, a business major at UMass Boston, called students’ prospects of not finding a job in their chosen field “unfair and frightening.”
“A high chance of not getting the job I studied for means a better chance of earning less than I expected and not being able to pay off student loans in a reasonable amount of time,” Ortigoza said.
Jaran Stallbaum, 20, an English major, also worries about uncertainty and called college “a bubble that safe-zones us from an economy that we are not ready for.”
“Very few people I know in their early 20s have left college with a career paved for them,” Stallbaum said. “Their degree is not unlocking as many doors as they thought. I feel like finding a job after school will solely be to pay off my loans.”
Some students are more optimistic. “I’m confident that after I graduate, money may be tight for a few years, but after that I feel I should be fine,” said Giovanni Marinelli, 21, an exercise and health science major. “I’ve already made some connections in my field, and I plan to make more, which is crucial for success. When I go for an interview after I graduate, I will feel more confident with a degree on my resume.”
Catherine Larson, Assistant Director of the Office of Career Services and Internships at UMass Boston, has seen the negative impact the economic climate has had on UMass Boston students over the past five years. According to Larson, recent graduates seeking employment in this economy should expect a job search to last at least three to six months. Students who participate in internships during their academic careers are also statistically more successful at finding employment, according to Larson.
“By developing a definitive career plan a minimum of a semester before graduation, along with a good, tailored resume, an understanding of a professional cover letter and sound job search strategies, candidates can be better positioned for success,” Larson said. Appointments with The Office of Career Services and Internships have increased more than 20 percent since last year, an uptick that Larson attributes partially to students’ growing fear of unemployment.
Despite the anxiety many college students feel regarding the current job market and what the future holds for them, Senator Kerry remains confident that progress is being made.
“I’m optimistic that we’re on an upturn, and that those coming out of college who work hard, [who] acquire the tools they need and who’ve put the effort in on their end will start to see their hard work and investment paid back.”