College Grads Face Tough Job Market

By Staff

February 3, 2009

College students are looking towards the future with concern as they prepare to navigate the toughest job market in years.

At California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, a recent winter job fair on January 28 and 29 attracted 130 employers, down from the 180 which generally sign up every quarter. The Pacific Coast Business Times reports that Amy Swanson, an academic adviser for Cal Poly's Orfalea College of Business, noted that many employers simply do not have the funds to recruit as heavily as they did in the past.

At California State University, Channel Islands, only 16 companies have signed on to its upcoming April job fair so far. Last year, 85 companies participated. CSU officials note that students are nervous about their futures, with many considering starting with unpaid positions to acquire experience. And counselors are urging students to build their resumes with more extracurricular activities and volunteering.

In Mississippi, where the unemployment rate of 7.6 percent exceeded the national average, schools are encouraging students to keep a positive attitude. The Clarion Ledger notes that Karen Lindsey-Lloyd, director of the career services center at Mississippi College, is advising students to be open about applying for different types of positions, even when they are not the jobs the students expected. She also encourages graduates to consider part-time positions as a chance to get a foot in the door.

Companies are looking for less people, she noted. "They have so many applicants to choose from. You have to be on top of your game in this job market."

The Ledger also quotes Bill Shughart, who teaches economics at the University of Southern Mississippi, and is advising some students to consider graduate school with the hope that by the time they receive their next degree, the economic tide will shift.

That advice is being echoed around the country. New York University's student newspaper, Washington Square News, reports that many students are now considering graduate or law school as the next step.

Washington Square News notes that campus recruitment is down 15 percent from last year, and NYU's Wasserman Center for Career Development staff is working around the clock to help with job placement. The center counsels students and provides resources to gain employment skills.

"The bad news is this is the worst job market I've seen, and I've been in career development for 30 years," said Trudy Seinfeld, director of the Wasserman Center. "On the other hand, when the job market is tight, new college graduates will find that while it is competitive, they have the advantage of being a cheaper source of labor."

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