Why I do data entry

Students need an abundance of experience for the future job market

by Ronald Dixon

Recently, I have accepted a position at a business that outsources office and data entry employees to varying companies. Specifically, I am currently on assignment as a data entry clerk at a company that produces and processes surveys for other businesses.

Does this, however, relate to my field of study at the University of Minnesota? I am, after all, a declared political science major. In short, there is no relation. I am also not doing it for the money.

Given these facts, why did I decide to work as an office temp? The answer is that I need the experience.

Year after year, the economic outlook is dismal. The recently released employment data from the month of May, for example, depicts a horrid story that has been getting worse for years. Although 175,000 non-farm jobs were added to the economy last month, the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.6 percent because more unemployed Americans are looking for work. Moreover, austerity measures are projected to decrease the number of jobs by millions in the long term. Finally, the jobs that were recently added were primarily short-term, part-time and temporary employment.

The economic forecast is generally bad for us all, but what about for college students?

According to the most recent data from April, about half of all new college graduates under the age of 25 are unemployed or underemployed. Even STEM majors, those who are often viewed as having market infallibility, are not likely to work in the hard sciences.

Although I would hope to work within a field that is intellectually and mentally stimulating, I would rather gain experience in multiple fields that are educational, realistic and practical.

Clerical and professional support work is applicable to most jobs, regardless of background. The lesson that should be learned, especially for underclassmen, is that although you should gain experience in the areas that you are studying in college, be prepared to fulfill not-so-stimulating work that can prepare you for long-term prospects that may not be related to your academic field in college.