Sunday, June 6, 2010

Grads find job market thawing, but no cakewalk article by FRANCINE KNOWLES of the Chicago Sun Times

Grads find job market thawing, but no cakewalk

But landing a position is no cakewalk for the Class of 2010 -- 'they are very nervous'

June 1, 2010

College senior Connor O'Steen worried he might have to move back in with his parents and considered joining the military as his efforts to find a job before graduation dragged on without success.

But after roughly nine months of searching, the University of Chicago student landed work, something more graduating seniors are succeeding at this year in what is viewed as a slightly better hiring environment for the Class of 2010.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers spring job outlook survey revealed employers plan to increase college hiring by 5.3 percent this year from 2009. A separate NACE student survey found 24.4 percent of responding graduating college seniors who applied for jobs said they had jobs waiting this year. That is up from 19.7 percent who said so a year earlier, but still no major turnaround.

Staff at local universities said they have not yet completed their surveys of students' job search results. But job postings are up at some. Still others have seen dropoffs in employer interest as the shaky economy continues to make it tough for graduates to launch their careers.

Well below 2008 levels

The University of Chicago has seen a 36 percent increase in job postings this year compared to last, and the number of recruiters on campus rose 23 percent, said Marthe Druska, senior associate director, Career Advising & Planning Services.

At DePaul University, April job postings -- the most recent data available -- were up 37 percent. Still, that was 40 percent below April 2008, notes Carol Montgomery, associate vice president of career and money management at DePaul. The university meanwhile saw an 11 percent drop in the 2009-10 year in the number of employers attending job fairs this year compared to last, she said.

Job postings and internships at the University of Illinois at Chicago fell 10 percent, and employers attending job fairs declined 33 percent, said Katherine Battee-Freeman, assistant director for recruitment.

Graduating seniors here expected a tough time in their job search. Among them was DePaul business student Jacqueline Scharf, who majored in operations management.

"Like everyone, I was nervous," she said. "The biggest thing was knowing that not only were you competing against other graduates, but people that had lost their jobs, adults that had been working for years."

She is pleased to have secured a job at Navistar as an associate in the company's parts leadership development program.

"Applying for a full-time job is a full-time job," she said. "Every day it was a big part of my day."

Political science major O'Steen said he applied for 25 jobs before landing a position with Teach For America, teaching math. He began his search last summer.

"I had a lot of friends who moved back in with their parents that year," he said. "That was definitely not something I wanted to do. I was very nervous the same thing would happen to me."

He said among his friends graduating this year, some have landed jobs, while others are still looking, but he has noticed a trend.

"The tendency that I've seen among my friends is for someone to get a job, but it's a yearlong contract for a project," he said. "Then they expect to lay off the people they hired for the project, so within the year they're going to be looking again for another job."

At least six of his friends fall into that category, he said.

DePaul psychology major Johnathan Pettinato has not yet landed work, but believes he will soon. He said he has applied for roughly 15 jobs and completed five interviews, two of which were second round interviews.
"The last few weeks have been really crazy with interviews and phone screenings," he said. "I'm definitely optimistic."
That was the attitude of U. of C. economics major Lucy Liu, and her optimism paid off. She secured a marketing job at advertising agency Draftfcb in Chicago.
She said in recent weeks, a lot of her friends with business-related majors have landed work. But friends who majored in social work or education are having a tougher time.
"They are very concerned that they are going to graduate being unemployed," she said. "That's definitely a big concern for a lot of them."

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