Friday, March 6, 2009

Colleges to job-seeking seniors: Buck up

Most years, Bill Means has to nudge his Queens University of Charlotte students, comfortable in their collegiateness, toward the rest of their lives.

This year, in this economy, some dragging is in order.

"They're a little less motivated," says Means, director of the school's Career Development Center. "In some ways, it's like a hopelessness. It's almost like they're saying 'Why should I even try?' "

A report this week from the National Association for Colleges and Employers (NACE) confirms what grads-to-be have already discovered: jobs are harder to find this year in every sector of the workforce. More than 40 percent of companies who participated in the report's survey said they plan to hire fewer graduates. More than 20 percent aren't hiring at all this spring.

The reality is no better in Charlotte, career advisers say. Businesses aren't hiring. Fewer are showing up at college job fairs. The only thing some want from schools are more free interns. "It's because they're laying off their full-time workforce," says Barbara Wilks, director of Johnson C. Smith's Career Planning/Placement office.

So what do advisers say to prop up their discouraged collegians?

"I tell them the truth," says Wilks.

"We're telling them it's always hard to find a job," Means says. "It's just twice as hard now."

That means their students - and all students - need to dial back expectations. A great-paying job is a longshot in this recession. Maybe even a decent-paying job. Maybe even one in your career path.

"A lot of our students come from out of state, and they like it in Charlotte," says Means. "They want to stay, and that's not going to be easy."

Still, unlike others, students often have the luxury of time. Most career paths will open up again when the economy improves. The advice in the interim, from Means and Wilks: If you have a job that got you through college, keep it. If you need a new one, start searching and networking now - and consider a government job, such as the IRS, which has had available positions recently.

Other fields that are still hiring include health care, education and utilities, Means says.

Another option: graduate school. It's a good way to ride out the recession, gain additional career expertise and buff up the education section of your resume.

Plus, if there ever was a time to put the rest of your life on hold, this might be it.


professional student said...

I'd love to go to grad school again, but can't afford it. I'd love to be one of the first Observer Grad School Scholars. I'd like to go to law school this time. Hook me up, Big O!

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is a tough time for graduates.

It's a tough time for me and I have an MBA and years of experience.

But a lot of the jobs in the US do not seem to require much education.

If you look at what the Employment Commission offers as help, it is so simple as to be laughable.

It's basically "how to write a resume" and "how to work a job fair", etc.

And lot of the employment "assistance" seems geared toward finding semi-literate textile workers their next job.

I'm not sure that gets to the core of the problem for college educated workers looking for jobs.

But, then, maybe the US is not the best place for educated workers any longer.

We know a student looking for an internship living in Ohio.

Too bad for her. Ohio is really worse off than NC.

She is willing to go anywhere, do anything for an internship and she feels like the risks she took to come to the US for an education may not have been worth it.

She is from China.

She should probably go back to China for her jobsearch.

They still have jobs.

Students always feel some anxiety until they get a job. I've seen that all my life.

Not really much you can do at this point.

Let's just hope that those who are hiring a year or two from now (when things pick up, perhaps?) remember this little recession and forgive everyone with 2 year gaps in their resumes.

And let's also hope there are actually jobs for the educated to fill.

Healthcare seems to be about the only thing left with a future.

Anonymous said...

Peace Corps, man, Peace Corps...

Anonymous said...

There is a problem that exists with hiring so many of these out of staters who gold-dig here taking jobs from equally or more qualified NC residents who pay taxes. Any and all NC jobs should always without exception give the advantage to the NC resident job seeker and only as a last resort to those coming here.

This should have been the case all along and all this crapola about there not being enough talent or skilled qualified employees is total garbage and just a defense.

This is not saying you have to be a native or born and raised in NC but just that you are a tax paying permanent resident or offspring of the same. CMS and Wake County schools are guilty as hell of even traveling to other regions and hiring giving incentives.

It is getting even more crucial with the bad economy to protect and save NC jobs for NC residents only.

NC needs protectionist laws to force employers especially those with the state or local govt to mandate the hiring of permanent residents before non-residents. NC needs to take of its own before giving away to the strays or gold-diggers. Hell we paid too much taxes to build schools universities and everything else for our own not for the moochers from out of state to take the jobs.

The time for protectionism is now. Only permanent NC residents need apply !!

Anonymous said...

Be an entrepreneur.

Anonymous said...

To protectionist anonymous guy:

That is completely illegal and unconstitutional. If you had taken 4th grade civics you should know why. I'm not going to otherwise waste my time and effort explaining to you all the reasons why you can't do that.

*Yankee-hating, native Charlottean w/ some sense unlike protectionist guy.

chupacabra said...

I have always thought that schools don't do enough career counseling with students.

I was on the other side of the desk at a job fair at Wake once. It was just sad for these kids to walk up to the table with their fresh history or French literature degrees. I'm sure they are very bright kids but there is nothing for them at my company. Oh but they're "trainable". Sure schools been telling kids that lie for decades, an academic degree means that you are trainable. I'm certainly not going to be able to train a history major to be an engineer and why should I when I can just hire an engineer to be an engineer?

I walked away from there just depressed at the realization that those kids are going to end up making less per year that they are paying now for their tuition and they have no idea until it's too late.

Grad school is not the answer unless you are going to major in something that is in demand. Just heading off to grad school without a plan is just going to mean another two years and $60k in student loan debt.

Anonymous said...

No need to worry. All the new jobs that Obama is creating are all for the well-educated. Construction, bridge-building, landscaping. Yep, all those white-collar workers that have lost their jobs will be trading in the suits for jeans.

Just who does he think he's fooling? Oh, yeah, most of the people who voted for him.

Anonymous said...

NC does not offer Civics in the
4th grade. This is asinine. Civics was discarded ages ago if it ever existed and is now called Social Studies and NC does have a priority system in place for government employees as well as most of the 117 school systems in the state wherein they hire within first and foremost before going outside.
NC always attempts to hire the best qualifed but do place a priority on hiring NC residents before hireing outsiders.

Wake County certified teacher

Anonymous said...

Many U.S. jobs are being shipped to China and India and other overseas countries. This takes away employment from Americans. It is happening every month in North Carolina with all the rural companies shutting down. Also, there have been many articles documenting how colleges nowadays are party havens for students--all they do is drink and party and some smoke dope. Colleges like this just breed lazy sloppy irresponsible unemployable graduates. Be careful which college you sign up for.