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Post-grad job hunt looms large

Four years. Students typically spend just four years in college. After those four years are up, it can be difficult to decide what’s next.

For New Mexico State University graduate Megan Sandoval, finding a steady job after graduation has been a challenge. “After I graduated I thought that I was going to be able to get a solid job right away, but I haven’t,” Sandoval laughed. “That’s probably been one of the toughest things after college.”

Sandoval got a bachelor’s degree in animal science after working part-time in a vet clinic for a couple of summers. Although she is passionate about animals, she finds herself wishing she could go back in time. “[My] advice for people who are younger: really look at [who’s] hiring—not necessarily what you want to do, but look at what jobs are needed,” she suggested.

Sandoval, who is recently engaged, now has to consider her fiancé when starting a career. “So [my fiancé] doesn’t want to leave Las Cruces, so I have to find something here. That makes it even harder for me,” Sandoval shared.

Sandoval isn’t the only one who’s had trouble starting a career. Her fiancé, Gary Tindal, has too. “Gary has his degree in accounting and finance. He actually got his master’s in accounting. He graduated from his master’s program like three or four years ago. He’s even having a hard time finding work, too,” Sandoval said.

Megan has conducted countless job searches over the past few months and hopes to find work soon, even though jobs in Las Cruces are limited and often competitive.

The Career Expo is coordinated by Career Services is one of the largest in the region. It typically hosts over 100 employers in a diverse range of fields and draws in over 2,000 candidates. (Photo courtesy of Career Services)

Another recent NMSU graduate, Sierra Alfonso, is also on the hunt for a steady job. Alfonso has a bachelor of science in chemical and materials engineering and is still looking for a position that is a good fit for her.

“I work at Starbucks right now, so I’m just in customer service. Chemical engineering — one of the reasons why I went into it was because I can make more money than what I would make just working at Starbucks,” Alfonso said.

Alfonso dedicates a lot of time applying to different companies. “My dream job … [is] an entry level job in the process engineering field or more of the research and development field.”

Although finding a job has been difficult, Alfonso remains hopeful. “In a year, I’m going to be in a different state working at a chemical engineering company. I know that for a fact,” she said. “I know things will work out. It just takes time. This is just a transition stage. I have to be real patient.”

Sierra Alfonso’s sister, Vanessa Alfonso, is a senior at NMSU majoring in early childhood education with a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages endorsement. Vanessa is already considering her career plans post-graduation.

“My goal is to teach here in Las Cruces for a little while since I’ll be licensed here and it’ll be easier for me to get a job here. I only want to teach here for a couple years and then I want to move,” Vanessa said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of opportunities for me here in Las Cruces.”

Vanessa, who has seen her sister spend many hours looking for a job, has realized that finding work after graduation isn’t always easy. “People are always looking for teachers. It might be hard for me to find a job right after I graduate because I have very little experience,” she said.

Vanessa currently works at Texas Roadhouse and has made decent money over the years. “I see myself being a server and bartender while I teach, which is kind of sad, but that’s life,” Vanessa said. “I know that teachers don’t make a lot of money, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still want to teach.”

NMSU holds a career expo every year so students can network and explore job opportunities in various states and fields. Megan and Sierra Alfonso were among some of the NMSU graduates who attended this year and turned in resumes.

One resource that is available for NMSU students and graduates on a regular basis is Career Services. Enas Khaleq, an employee at Career Services, explained some of the services offered. “We help with anything from finding jobs to helping with resumes to interview prep. We also do mock interviews and we help with writing cover letters.”

Khaleq was at the career expo and thinks it’s really beneficial for graduates. “A lot of these places are looking for professionals. So if you have your bachelor’s, associate or even master’s, it could really elevate [you] above people who haven’t graduated yet,” Khaleq said. “There’s a lot of potential whether you’re a student or if you’ve graduated.”

Khaleq provided some advice for graduates looking for jobs: “Make sure it’s the best resume possible, work on your personal skills, research different companies that you want. Don’t cut yourself short. If something is far or you think you’re not well qualified, just give it a shot,” Khaleq said. “Honestly, just follow your dreams. You’re going to find a company that wants you.”

Although many graduates have found themselves struggling to find a job, there are opportunities out there. There are also resources available at NMSU that graduates can take advantage of through Career Services.

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