The Journey To Fulfillment: Part One

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By Amy MacArthur

In an increasingly competitive job market, searching for, and eventually landing, the “right” job immediately after college can be not only daunting but exhausting. Despite America’s slow but sure recovery from the 2008 recession, the 2015 Economic Policy Institute’s national statistics have unemployment rate for young college graduates still around 7.2%, with the underemployment rate sitting at 14.9%, which is almost double the rates in 2007. Since then, things have improved slightly but not significantly. Where does that leave soon-to-be graduates of Providence and the nationwide and global class of 2017, or graduates in the coming years?

In a January 2016 summary of their research findings at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, economists Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz said, “Contrary to popular belief, most underemployed recent college graduates were not working in low-skilled service jobs following the Great Recession. Indeed, nearly half were working in relatively high-paying jobs, with more than 10 percent working in the information processing and business support, managers and supervisors, and sales categories,” Abel and Deitz write.

“At 25 percent, the largest share of underemployed recent college graduates worked in the office and administrative support category. While these jobs may not be as desirable as the typical college job … they are significantly better than low-skilled service jobs. That said, about one-fifth of underemployed recent college graduates — roughly 9 percent of all recent graduates (bachelor’s degree in this study) — did work in a low-skilled service job.”

So, what does a Bachelor-degree level college graduate have to look forward to in the time after graduation? What does it look like to be successful now? This question led to the creation of the series, The Journey to Fulfillment. It seeks to highlight insight and experiences from the faculty and staff of Providence, finding and engaging in the work world after their own college graduations.

For Jan Van Spronsen, Director of the Academic Resource Center and Instructor of Education at Providence, the search is ongoing. She believes that the core of finding joy and fulfillment within work begins with first recognizing God as being at the center of every connection and career opportunity. 

Photo of Jan Van Spronsen from the Providence website

“People need to trust in the idea that God has purposes for us and is very capable of pushing us toward those purposes, place of faith we need to be. We tend to over-rely on our strengths and abilities. We recognize that is true, but there are people in your lives who will be key in terms of connecting you to where you need to be, and they need to be recognized as God placed and part of the journey. I never would have planned my life out to be the way it turned out, it was not in my wheelhouse. It is healthy to be willing to be flexible along the way.” She said.

Van Spronsen graduated with a degree in Special Education and Liberal Studies from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, and her first career step post-college was moving to Alabama.

I was a learning disabilities instructor for kindergarten and first graders in Mobile, Alabama. It was just Godlike, we had moved to Mobile, my husband was pursuing an internship in a church and we were just here, and he had job at landscaping company. He was talking to a customer who had come into the store, and she needed a learning disabilities instructor. There I was, I started in January,” she said.


The remainder of this interview will be continued in part two of the series.