Recent college graduates face improving job prospects, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Recent data shows that the Class of 2011 expects 13 to 14 percent more hires than last year’s grads experienced. With that said, the economy remains relatively uncooperative. Despite the Labor Department’s recently released optimistic job figures, “actual unemployment” continues to make finding gainful employment tough. Leo Hindery, media business executive and former “Obama for President” finance committee member, said that figures actually sit at 17.7 percent, and not the 8.8 percent the government released, according to a report he and his team circulate every month.
Economic issues really surfaced in 2009, as the recession fully took hold and led to layoffs and less hires, according to the Inquirer’s story. The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds with bachelor’s degrees was 8.8 percent in 2009 and 9.2 percent in 2010.
West Chester seniors certainly feel the effects of this financial climate. Students face multiple issues when looking for a job.
“Always feeling under-qualified,” fourth year student Kaleigh Sunday said ss one of her biggest issues. “I swear I can be made to feel under-qualified for a fast-food job-and I’ve even worked one before.”
“For psychology I need a higher-level graduate degree. No jobs will consider me before I finish graduate school,” another soon-to-be graduate, Danielle Mosby, said.
Many other seniors mention similar problems when searching for a job. Often times, jobs request that applicants possess multiple years of professional experience, which eliminates a large pool of college seniors. Some ads go as far as to tell college students not to bother applying because the company feels they’re not ready for the job.
Students also list interviewing inexperience as a potential problem.
“I’m not a smooth talker by any means, so I think it’s going to be difficult to market myself as better than another [candidate]-even though I’m confident that I am,” Sunday said.
Lack of available options and necessary or desired job skills were other commonly listed problems.
Due to these issues, many students decide to take jobs outside their fields of study that they may not want, or move back home with their parents. Some statistics suggest that more students choose graduate school because of the difficult market, per the Inquirer.
“There are enough jobs available, though maybe not exactly the ones that I want or am excited about. But, I feel as though I’m not really in a position to be that picky,” Sunday confirmed.
Edwin Koc, the National Association of Colleges and Employers director of research, said that students had a median of 2 job offers by April back in 2007. Last year, more than 60 percent of new grads had no offers by April, though.
At WCU, the Office of Institutional Research published their most recent findings for spring 2010. For that class, 623 students said that they planned to pursue full-time employment following graduation, and another 29 looked for part-time work. Of that total, only 138 (22.18 percent) students had accepted a full-time position, and five took part-time jobs (17.24 percent). Another 7.21 percent of all job-seeking students continued with their current job.
These statistics left a whopping 70.86 percent of seniors unemployed upon their graduation. Some current seniors reflected last spring’s statistics and said they felt hopeless, lost or frustrated by their job searches.
The Twardowski Career Development Center, located on the second floor of Lawrence, is one potential place students can turn to if they want to secure some type of gainful employment in the future. Their mission is to “provide services, programs, and resources that facilitate the lifelong career development process and assist students and alumni with implementing and securing satisfying careers,” according their web page.
The center points students toward the College Central Network’s databases when looking for a job. Students of all ages can search for jobs or internships on this website, and some job listings are directed toward the university. Businesses can use these tools to set up on-campus recruiting and look for interested students.
Also, a career fair that spans all majors and fields is held once each semester. Three counselors stand by in the center to help students with their career pursuits, and can provide resume, interview or cover letter tips and training.
For current seniors, though, time is running out. When asked to give advice, students are quick to offer their younger classmates ways to avoid the mistakes that they made.
“Start looking early. Join a career networking site so you have enough time to familiarize yourself with the database and its opportunities. By doing this, you’ll have time to peruse the site at your leisure and will actually find jobs you may want to apply for,” Sunday said.
“Honestly, networking is the biggest key to finding work. It’s all about who you know. If you have an insider in your field, your chances of landing a job increase tremendously,” Mosby said.
Students have many opportunities on campus to succeed, but with the economy still seemingly struggling, seniors who find solid employment in their field after graduation will probably be the fortunate minority.
Travis Pearson is a student at West Chester University. He can be reached at TP651537@wcupa.edu.