The University of South Carolina commencement ceremonies are over. The celebrations have ended. It’s Monday morning, and more than 4,000 Gamecocks, members of the largest graduating class in the history of the Palmetto State find themselves waking up to life after college. The transition can be a difficult one, but the economic news is good for the Class of 2016, especially those who spent time gaining experience outside the classroom as well as knowledge within.
“Opportunities for graduates continue to be very good for a wide range of fields… the best they’ve been in eight to 10 years,” said Tom Halasz, director of the USC Career Center. Halasz cautioned, however, that “While there are a tremendous amount of opportunities out there, it remains challenging for graduates.
Halasz said employers have changed their expectations in recent years, and are looking for more from graduates. “They’re being very selective,” he said. “That’s where we emphasize a variety of resources.” Faculty and staff at USC encourage students to gain practical experience through internships, co-ops, and volunteering, and the Career Center staff helps match students with opportunities.
“It’s more or less a trial employment experience for the student as well as for the employer,” Halasz said, adding that even experience not related to the career a student later pursues is valuable. “Experience, regardless of the field, will provide transferable skills.”
USC President Harris Pastides emphasized the value of variety to Saturday’s graduates. “Nobody can rise to the highest levels of their profession without a broad world view and a broad education,” he said.
David Seaton, a USC alumnus who serves as chairman and CEO of Fluor and was one of this year’s commencement speakers, agreed. “Your degree is a beginning… a commitment to lifelong learning will serve you well,” he said. “Many of us are working in areas that we did not prepare for or did not start with.”
Pastides pointed out that despite his success, Seaton’s career path was not linear. “He didn’t know the day after commencement where he would arrive,” Pastides said.
Halasz said USC students as a group show strong desire to find internships and other ways to gain experience while still in school. “That’s where we can point to the success of our students,” he said.”They recognize that they’re looking for great opportunities and they don’t settle.”
“So much of it is their approach, their attitude, their work ethic,” he added. “The internship experience is what you make of it.”
Halasz said the number of job postings available in the Career Center for students to apply was up by 23 percent in the past year over the previous year. “It speaks to the strength of the South Carolina economy and the reputation of our students,” he said.
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