Call of duty
UB Career Services aims to highlight alternative post-undergraduate jobs
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013 17:09
Since the economic recession of 2008 and its effects on the U.S. economy, college graduates from many disciplines have found it much harder to find employment in their fields after leaving school, according to UB Career Services Director Arlene Kaukus.
Many of these students came to college with ambitions of finding work strictly with a private-sector company after graduating. She said now, seemingly more than ever, there are not enough positions to satisfy the new group of graduates every year.
Kaukus hopes some of these students take an opportunity to open up their field of vision when searching for work. She hopes students will see the benefits of working in the fields of public service and non-profit organizations.
“There is such a focus, I think, generally with getting employment with a [company],” Kaukus said. “As somebody who had a 30-year career in non-profit before I came to work at [UB], one of the things I’m keenly interested in is opening up for students their view of ‘I could do a lot of amazing things in a lot of places.’”
She thinks one of the best ways to make this transition to employment in the public or non-profit sector is by engaging in public service through one of myriad organizations all over the country and world.
UB Career Services Employee Relations Manager Judith Applebaum thinks working with public service organizations like WorldTeach and City Year can provide students and graduates with not only a sense of accomplishment from their work, but also a broad skillset they may not otherwise acquire.
Applebaum said these experiences can give students skills that employers desire.
“They’re wonderful, wonderful skills that you develop that can be very useful and make you very desirable over other candidates today,” Applebaum said.
Public service can also provide participants with a new perspective on the world that is only attained by engaging in service in another place domestically or abroad, she added.
Stephen Boyd, a 2007 UB graduate who majored in English, spoke highly about his time serving through WorldTeach –a non-profit, non-governmental organization created in 1986 in response to the global “need for educational assistance in developing countries,” according to its website.
“Personally, I’ve learned quite a lot: about myself, my abilities as a teacher, how to adapt to a foreign culture, how to travel safely, how to deal with culture shock and homesickness, and how to be patient in an environment I don’t understand,” Boyd said in an email. “I am hoping that these teaching experiences on my resume will give me a competitive edge over other applicants and that employers will see my dedication to helping others as a positive attribute.”
Boyd spent a summer in Nambia and a year in Tanzania teaching information communication technology and English. He was grateful for the personal growth he experienced while teaching in Africa and also the skills he gained that future employers may find attractive.
“I learned how to manage large groups of people, communicate in different languages, and be extremely flexible in facing challenging living environments so I think I’m capable of working in many difficult or fast-paced places,” Boyd said.
Kaukus suggests students don’t know that public service and non-profit organizations value participants with experience and schooling in a variety of disciplines. This is something she is passionate about making known to the larger public.
She thinks students don’t think about the business opportunities that are available in these fields. She wants students to bridge the gap between public service organizations and their own particular skills.
“But I don’t think, generally speaking, people make that connection,” Kaukus said. “So I think putting that idea in front of students is really important because it opens a whole new sector of opportunities that they’re not even looking at.”
Khadijat Olagoke, a 2013 Buffalo State College graduate who is working with the organization City Year, has opened her eyes to the possibilities of the benefits of working in the public sector.
City Year was formed in 1988 by two Harvard Law School students “who felt strongly that young people in service could be a powerful resource for addressing America’s most pressing issues,” according to its website. One of these pressing issues the group is working on is the declining graduation rate in American high schools.
Olagoke works as the “Team Leader” for other City Year volunteers at Public School 48 in the South Bronx area of New York City. She directs much of her efforts to managing the volunteers who work as tutors and mentors at P.S. 48. Olagoke takes on various other planning roles, in addition to her managerial duties.