By KAYLA EVERETT, CARLY HARAKA, JOSEPH MORRIS
After Georgia reported the highest unemployment rate in the nation, based on the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent pole, Piedmont faculty and students discuss what advantages being a Piedmont Lion has for future job searches.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an unemployed person is defined as someone who is out of a job and has actively looked for work within the prior four weeks. While the unemployment rate in Georgia has gone down compared to previous years, approximately eight percent of Georgia residents are still looking for work.
As college students planning on entering the work force, should this unemployment rate concern us?
Chair of the Piedmont Mass Communications Department and previous business owner Dale Van Cantfort says that while a high unemployment rate may make it more difficult for students to find a job, “students graduating in 2014 have a better chance than those who graduated in 2013 or 2012.”
Van Cantfort stressed the importance of internships for students hoping to get a job out of college. According to an article from CNN, Melissa Benca, director of career services at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, said, “Graduating students with paid or unpaid internships on their résumé have a much better chance at landing a full-time position upon graduation.”
Based on a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the number of internship opportunities increased by about three percent in 2013.
Many students here at Piedmont College have already taken advantage of those opportunities to gain practical experience, like senior mass communications major Jessica Owensby. Owensby and other Piedmont students work part-time at WCON, a local radio station in Habersham County. WCON has been serving the North Georgia area since 1953.
While working there, students produce radio shows that consist of weather updates, community events and taking requests for music. Owensby says she heard about the job from Piedmont College’s Director of Athletic Communications, Timmy McCormick, who had a connection with the station, which resulted in many students receiving positions at WCON. McCormick works with staff members at WCON to help students gain opportunities to work in the students’ future field.
But Piedmont’s push for internships is nothing new. Piedmont College has encouraged and helped students from previous years obtain internships as well. Piedmont graduate and theatre teacher at White County High School, Pete Talton, credits much of his success as a theatre teacher to Piedmont College. Talton said that Piedmont faculty assisted him in getting an internship at a local middle school, which allowed him to “get [his] feet wet and get an idea of what it is like to teach kids.” Talton attributed much of his accomplishments as a teacher to that internship opportunity and the lessons and passion of the “incredible professors and faculty at Piedmont.”
Talton graduated from Piedmont College in 1994 as the first Piedmont graduate with a degree in theatre education.
Recently, Piedmont College has created a way to get students more involved in internships, community service, and other service learning activities. According to Piedmont’s website, Piedmont College implemented the Compass Program, which is designed to “enhance Piedmont’s academic program and better prepare students for life after graduation.”
Students entering Piedmont after Fall of 2013 are required to complete the Compass Program. Students must complete at least three Compass Points under categories ranging from creativity and innovation to cultural awareness. The goal of this program is give students the upper hand when competing against other college graduates for job opportunities.
While the federal and state governments work to improve the national and state unemployment rates, Piedmont College faculty and staff will continue to look for ways to help their students succeed after college. Van Cantfort expressed his desire for a full-time job placement counselor at Piedmont to assist undergraduate students in securing employment after college.