Education... You get the diploma, you get the job! But is that formula a thing of the past?
CBS47's Evy Ramos is On Your Side with the startling number of those with higher degrees who need government assistance.
Adam Smith is a veteran who is proud to have served his country. "I was a mechanic on fighter jets," said Smith.
Smith is also struggling to stay afloat. He's just about finished getting his PhD in psychology, and his teaching job at State Center Community College ended with the semester. "I'm on unemployment right now, so yeah, it's disheartening," said Smith.
It's the feeling he gets after each semester wraps up. As an adjunct teacher in this economy, he never knows if he'll have a job the following semester.
Smith says he's looking for work and is willing to do almost anything. "I'm considering, it's sad to say, anything. I've asked my students where do they work? Are they hiring?"
Smith is not alone.
After the recession took hold in 2007, the rate of PhD holders who've filed for government assistance more than tripled by 2010. Those with Masters degrees are in the same boat; their numbers have tripled as well.
The news hits Smith hard. "Like I had been kicked in the stomach because again I was told as a kid, go to school get a degree and work hard and get a great job," said Smith. He's done three of the four, but can't seem to get the great job... or any job for that matter.
Couple that with the increasing student loan debts that are at record levels. "I'm just fearful of that," said Smith. Smith says he owes $120,000.
Like so many others, he is putting his personal life on hold. He'd like to marry his longtime girlfriend. "We want to have kids, we'd like to start a family but it's just financially it's not a smart decision I think right now to do that," said Smith.
Jake Soberal is an attorney and serves on the board of directors for Creative Fresno. The organization recently began the Boomerang Project, a program designed to get Fresno natives with higher degrees and experience living outside of Fresno to come home. Soberal says the jobs ARE here. "We've been more overwhelmed by businesses with positions than we have by candidates," said Soberal.
And Fresno is no different than the larger cities. "The jobs exist here in Fresno at the same rate that they exist anywhere else," said Soberal.
Soberal says the unemployed, no matter their education level, need to get up, get out, and network. "There's not going to be a Monster.com post that leads you to your dream job in Fresno. This is one where you're going to have to step out, you're going to have to meet the person, earn their trust, and hopefully at some point, earn the position that they have to offer.
While the unemployment figures can be daunting, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Steven Gutierrez is a labor market analyst for the Employment Development Department (EDD). "This is a brighter outlook for the 2012 college graduates compared to those from 2008," said Gutierrez. He says students are doing a better job of getting prepared. "In some ways the 2012 college grads got lucky. They were able to use their college experience to see the realistic expectations in regards to the labor market. Most of them were working a lot earlier trying to find employment. A lot of graduates were taking summer internships and have more of a realistic outlook of what type of jobs were actually out there," said Gutierrez.
Colleges are doing a better job of helping in this area.
Dr. Matthew Jendian is a professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at Fresno State. University's are realizing just how important experience is during these tough economic times. "Our students this year we've actually made a special emphasis on getting them connected through internships," said Dr. Jendian.
And these internships are turning into jobs. We caught up with Nassreen El-Dahabi in May, right after she graduated with her Masters of Business Administration from Fresno State. While in school, El-Dahabi did an internship and didn't wait until the last minute to apply for jobs. "It actually took me two years to get my foot in the door. I've been applying to state jobs for two years now and I finally just got my foot in the door and I was very fortunate," said El-Dahabi.
So if you're unemployed, where do you start? Guttierez says be sure you are using all the resources that are out there. "For instance, we have a local one called Workforce Connection, which can assist individuals and try to help them find jobs. Signing up with the alumni with the school that they went to," said Guttierez.
Sometimes, those with higher degrees may feel a sense of pride, making it difficult to reach out for help. "They should never feel too proud to not want to get assistance. This is a tough time. You've got to roll up your sleeves and you've got to meet the people that are going to connect you to the opportunity that you want," said Guttierez.
Adam Smith hasn't given up. "I feel like I set myself up in a great position. It's just applying, continuing to apply to full-time employment and maybe someone taking a chance or hiring me based on my degree and my service," said Smith. He is determined to continue the fight and is confident his time will come.
Now many may be wondering if it pays to get an education. It absolutely does. While the numbers of those needing government assistance have increased, there are nowhere near the numbers of high school drop outs or high school graduates.
We have included several helpful links on this page for those looking for work.
Also, don't forget to sing up with the alumni with the school you attended.