Arielle Williams: A Business Graduate Searching for Work after Graduation

Arielle Williams, 23, sat in a black chair at her computer in her mother’s house and applied for food stamps. She never thought her four-year business administration degree would lead her to government assistance.

Williams spoke with a representative over the phone after she submitted her application to ensure she qualified for the program. When she noticed she wasn’t getting a job as quickly as she had hoped, Williams made a choice that shocked her.

“The first thing I did was sign up for food stamps,” Williams said.

Williams graduated from Florida A&M in April, and since then, landing a job in her field has been a major problem. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, college students who graduated between 2004 and 2012 and majored in business are among the five most likely groups of graduates to find jobs in their fields.

For Williams, however, that major still hasn’t helped her land a job.

Since graduating, Williams has applied for more jobs than she can count. She has interviewed with companies within her major and those outside of her major. She said she has even applied for jobs that do not require a four-year degree, such as administrative positions and at collection companies.

“I can’t even give you a number for the amount of applications I have submitted, but I know I filled out more than 100 applications,” Williams said.

Williams moved back home to her mother’s house in Jacksonville, Fla., which was supposed to have been just a temporary place to stay until she found a job and saved up some money.

Once she found a job, she was going to start graduate studies to get a master’s degree in business at a local university.

“I still deal with the pressure of knowing I’m freeloading off my mama. It’s not like I’m a 12-year-old child anymore,” Williams said.

Many of Williams’ classmates are experiencing some of the same problems.

Ricardo Copeland, 22, graduated in August with a bachelor’s degree in business. He said that he will be moving back home to save money and pay off some of his student loans.

Unlike Williams, Copeland has received two unpaid internships upon graduation that he believes will give him the experience he needs to get a job.

Employment trends differ based on the graduate’s major, school, and race.

The top three occupations that require a bachelor’s degree with the most job openings are teachers, accountants, and computer software engineers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although there are great demands for certain occupations, the school of choice also plays a major role because competition is high, and employers are seeking the best employee.

In job interviews, Williams said she noticed that some of the employers would ask about the recent hazing death of a student, and she said she felt that it hurt her interviews. She said she did not feel as though she had a fair chance.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that on average, college graduates earn more money, have less unemployment, and experience a larger range of career choices than other workers do, but many college graduates tell different stories.

While statistics show that it does, Williams is not so sure.

“I have my degree, but nothing to show for it,” said Williams.