Tips for Positioning Yourself for Gainful Employment
Think of some of the motivating factors for students to attend post-secondary education. Obtaining new knowledge, meeting and interacting with new people, and boosting self-esteem are some factors that are common. But the biggest motivating factor for attending (and completing) college is to obtain gainful employment. College is supposed to prepare students for life in the “real world.” Sadly, a college degree does not always guarantee gainful employment. In an ever-competitive job market, it is important that you position yourself for gainful employment after college.
So what is gainful employment? There are a number of factors that determine whether employment is gainful. First, you need your education and experiences from college to successfully obtain and efficiently produce at your job. For example, landing a job as a business analyst after completing a degree in Information Technology would be considered gainful employment. Landing a job as a cashier at a fast food restaurant after obtaining the same degree would not be considered gainful employment. Next, the job should be recognized (or on par with recognized programs) as a job that would require a degree in a Gainful Employment program by the Department of Education. Again, a business analyst position with an IT degree would fall into this category, while a cashier would not. Lastly, gainful employment should never leave you with “unaffordable levels of loan debt in relation to [your] earnings” (ED, Federal Register, pg. 16,426). Gainful employment jobs provide wages/salary that will sufficiently cover all of your expenses, including all of your collegiate debt.
Since the job market is so competitive, you must do something that makes you distinguishable from other potential candidates. The following are some tips to help you accomplish this:
Understand trends in the job market
There will always be certain career paths that are growing and more in-demand than others. You must understand these trends. If you are unsure of what degree to obtain, think about pursuing a career in an in-demand sector. In today’s world, education, IT, and marketing are some of the most stable, in-demand career fields.
It is true that your network can never be too big. Meet with as many people as possible, build as many relationships as possible, and exchange information with as many reputable professionals as possible. Oftentimes, landing a quality job is more about who you know rather than what you know.
Diversify your skill set
This tip can be tricky, so it is important to understand what is meant by diversifying your skill set. You may hear that employers are looking for individuals with a specialized skill set. However, you want to be able to offer a diverse set of skills to your potential employers. Not only would you be able to handle many situations in the workplace, but you will not be putting “all your eggs in one basket.” The average person has 10 jobs before finding the job they settle in to, so it is important to be able to complete a multitude of different tasks and be familiar with multiple disciplines of study and thought.
Give 100% effort during your time in college
This may sound simple enough, but many people do not give 100% effort. Employers are looking for quick learners, hard workers, and dedicated workers. Earning a high GPA or esteemed honors at your school is a great way of demonstrating the above qualities. Continual maximum effort will always be a positive employee characteristic.
Getting a job that earns a respectable salary, utilizes the skills you learned in college, and offers a great work environment is not easy. The job market is a very small pool, and there are a lot of hungry fish out there. It is absolutely essential that you position yourself to obtain gainful employment. This will greatly aid you in becoming financially responsible and in repaying any Federal Student Aid loan obligations you may have (remember, FSA loans are available because of the efforts of hard working tax payers). Following the tips above, and any other tips from a reputable source, is a great way to move toward securing gainful employment.
For more career guidance after your online education journey visit our sister blog, OnlineCareerTips.com for more great tips and stories!
By Ryan Laspina
Compliance and Default Prevent Specialist at American Public University System