Joe Giasullo is the posterboy for post-college success. Dressed in casual business attire, hair neatly coiffed, it is clear when he enters the student center at Central Connecticut State University that he is a professional. He smiles warmly and takes a seat at his alma mater, pausing to look around at the young upstarts. Giasullo recently got his first full-time job since graduating last year. An Iraqi War veteran, he worked for the Connecticut Army National Guard as a digital systems support technician. He realized this was not the right fit for him as he was unhappy and unpassionate about the field. This sparked the desire to go back to school and pursue his love for English. Today, Giasullo works as the social media manager at LIMRA in East Windsor. LIMRA is a market research company that helps financial service and life insurance companies, such as the ones here in Hartford, CT, know what products to sell and who to sell them to. Giasullo promotes LIMRA and its products, as well as research and training tools, through social media on LinkedIn and Twitter. He also helps their member companies stay up to date with the current policies, technologies, and practices. It took Giasullo seven months to receive a job offer.
“I must’ve applied to thirty different places. I got half as many callbacks and about a third of that half of actual interviews.” Other young, recent graduates have been facing similar roadblocks. Much of the applying nowadays is done online, however too often, they never hear back, and little feedback is provided to help these graduates fine tune their pitch. One recent graduate commented that she applied to over thirty jobs and only got responses from a couple. Even then, she failed to get either job because she lacked the experience. This is because experienced people are taking entry level positions. Giasullo jokes about this unfortunate regularity. “They want to hire young people who have thirty years experience.” This might explain why millennials make up 40 percent of the total unemployed in the United States. With the average student leaving college with $33,000 in debt, it puts these young adults in immediate financial stress that affects their personal lives. They tend to postpone major life decisions such as getting married or buying a house. And wouldn’t you know it, Giasullo is getting married next summer.
Think outside the box and get outside your comfort zone.
However, hope springs eternal. We gotta work, don’t we? Joe Zeoli is an Advising and Career Specialist at the Center for Advising and Career Exploration located at CCSU. His fatherly tone and kindhearted smile immediately puts students at ease. His passion for helping students be successful is undeniable. Zeoli concedes that finding work is a difficult process but with the right steps, the possibilities are endless. He advises recent graduates to hit the books. “Think outside the box and get outside your comfort zone. It is important to do your homework. Prepare to look for work. Just having a degree doesn’t guarantee happiness and success.”
Networking is vital to finding a job, as it helps students to stand out and present their skills to an employer. A majority of students fail to do enough of this. Students desire more on campus career preparation opportunities yet most do not act on offers they receive. For instance, the English department at CCSU recently put together an event where recent alumni came to speak of the various careers they ended up in. Students had the opportunity to learn helpful tools and ask questions. However, when English classes asked their students who was attending, only a few students raised their hands. Students should be taking advantage of career fairs, alumni events, and online networking sources such as Linkedin or even Facebook.
Internships can also be an effective resource to get “one’s foot in the door” and get a feel for the world of work beyond scooping ice cream or flipping burgers. CCSU has a six-month, full-time internship called Cooperative Education. Giasullo made every effort to take advantage of all opportunities in his path. “If I hadn’t done these internships, I would be dead in the water.” His internship was at Elephant Rock Books, an independent trade publisher located in Ashford Connecticut. He did everything from editing to writing to marketing to finance.
Most people have done interviews for a summer or part-time job at some point. However, there is a huge difference between interviewing for Dunkin Donuts or McDonald’s versus a major company or corporation. While it can be an anxiety-ridden, pressure-filled experience, there is no way to get around it in order to get a job. There are certain things young adults can do before and during the interview for a higher chance of success. Prior to going, they should research the company to be knowledgeable about it and know what questions to ask the employer. Zeoli recommends applicants remain positive and upbeat. It is imperative to dress professionally, ask smart questions, and present the skills the employer is desiring.
Giasullo provides similar advice, suggesting that an interview should be treated like a normal, everyday conversation. “If you can have a conversation with somebody, you can seem affable. You can be an interesting person. Smile a little bit instead of sitting there with your back straight like you got a board attached to your ass,” he says. Giasullo threw in one last piece of advice for future job seekers: No matter who you are or what degree you are going for, everyone will experience similar crisis before achieving occupational success. However, with the right tools, guidance, and mental strength, you will come out on the other side employed. As the interview finished, he took one last brief look around before going home. After all, he couldn’t afford to wait around; he has a job to get to in the morning.
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