By SYDNEY MILLER
Finding a job: the new frontier — at least, it is for college students. Finding a job post-graduation can be a daunting and frightening task, but choosing a job can be even scarier. What do I mean by that? Sifting the good jobs from the…job with less benefits.
Aside from the occasional internship and part-time job, students have no experience navigating the world of employment and benefits. For the past four years, if I made $200 biweekly, it meant high living, so students aren’t exactly the authority on what job is a “good deal” and what jobs are only one step up from indentured slave.
As much of an improvement a $40,000 salary is over my paltry $2,000 one, salary isn’t everything. It’s understandable to be eager to sign on the dotted line when anything over single digits is offered, but you have to fully research your options.
What retirement options are offered? A 401(k) allows you to invest in various stocks, bonds and mutual funds, and the account is not taxed until the money is withdrawn. It’s an account that is funded through pre-tax payroll deductions. Sometimes employers match your 401(k) contributions depending on the length of time you are employed by the company; a nice benefit for remaining loyal to your company. There are other retirement plans, like a Roth IRA, that have lower limits on how much you can save each year, but putting away even five or six percent a month goes a long way.
Economics professor Teresa Ghilarducci recently wrote in The New York Times that “49 percent of middle-class workers will be poor or near poor in retirement, living on a food budget of about $5 a day.” Don’t be one of them.
Also, fully investigate the health, dental and life insurance policies offered through your company. Usually, it’s a huge savings to take advantage of your company’s policies. And, make sure your company even offers insurance benefits. If not, the slightly higher salary may not be worth your while, and it would be to your benefit to search for another option.
There are other things to consider that may not be explicitly listed as benefits. Are there multiple paths to career advancement? There’s no point in growing roots in a company where you are bound to be doing the same job 40 years from now. Does the company offer annual salary reviews? Is there a bonus program? If there is a bonus program, what are the bonuses paid on? These are “extras” that are equally important to making a job decision as listed benefits are.
And while salary isn’t the only thing you should look at, it’s still very important to determining the job’s worth. If you’re unsure about what workers in your field make on average, look to the nets: The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps lists of average salaries by career in their Occupational Outlook section.
Sydney Miller is a senior print and digital journalism major at the University of Missouri.
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