Flourishing job

by Ken Eisinger

This summer, graduates across the nation will enter the best entry-level market in nearly three decades, according to an annual Michigan State survey of 477 businesses, industries and government agencies.
Employers polled for the study anticipate a 27.5 percent increase in job openings for this year’s graduates. While the survey indicated high demand for graduates with technical skills, research by Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York also revealed an increasing demand for liberal arts graduates.
With the economy booming, University seniors from the Institute of Technology and the College of Liberal Arts are licking their chops in anticipation of jumping into the lucrative job market.
Jerome McKoskey, a senior majoring in speech communication, said he will start sending out rÇsumÇs when summer session classes begin.
Although he hasn’t yet done much job hunting, opportunities have come knocking anyway — often in unexpected situations.
In his current job as a cabdriver, McKoskey said he has given rides to several people who were employers in need of workers. He learned of other potential opportunities at a funeral and through his sister and a cousin.
IT alumnus Ken Burton can’t wait to tap the fresh crew of graduates. Burton, who works for the Maple Grove, Minn., business SciMed, said company representatives attract potential employees by frequenting job fairs and offering referral bonuses.
SciMed, which manufactures medical products for diagnosing cardiovascular disease, currently has 150 openings for technology graduates, he said.
“We’ve filled 400 jobs since the first of the year,” Burton said. “Our interns and co-ops are paid holiday time just so we can stay competitive.”
Amy Wong, a saleswoman for EMPaC, a California-based computer consulting company, said prospective employees don’t necessarily even need technology-related degrees to work for her firm.
On-the-job training brings most liberal arts graduates up to speed, she said.
“What we would need are people that have a basic knowledge of computers,” Wong said.
University offices assisting graduates in finding jobs are also deluged by the increased demand.
Sharon Kurtt, director of the IT Career Services Office, said companies recruiting at the office often announce intentions to double or triple their number of hires.
“I don’t have enough students to offer them,” Kurtt said. “The economy is creating more jobs at a faster rate than people are coming out of school.”
This year, more than 200 businesses visited campus recruiting students for internships, co-op arrangements and full-time jobs, Kurtt said.
At any given point in time, the office has between 1,300 and 1,500 students’ names on file. Those high numbers make monitoring student hires impossible, Kurtt said. She added that about 75 percent to 85 percent of students registered with the office receive internships, co-ops or full-time jobs.
Officials from the Office for Special Learning Opportunities also feel the push from a healthy economy. The office, which advises liberal arts students of their career options, offers workshops, courses and an annual career information day.
Lisa Stotlar, associate program director for the office, said even though the economy is strong, no major changes are planned.
They are considering offering on-campus recruitment but won’t until they could provide it at a high-quality level. The office’s philosophy enables students to find work regardless of the economy, Stotlar said.
“We try to teach students to know themselves and to know the marketplace and the rest can follow,” Stotlar said.
OSLO officials provide a database of 1,600 internships representing 2,000 businesses.
Shira Blumenfeld, a senior majoring in English, said she attended career information sessions in OSLO but hasn’t yet tried applying what she learned.
Blumenfeld’s aspirations include being a food broker. She has not yet hit the market because her current job provides experience she will use in that field.
Blumenfeld said she isn’t worried about going directly into brokering because people often change careers.
“I try to make myself versatile,” she said. “As long as I’m not busing dishes, I’ll be happy.”
But Karen Johnson, a senior majoring in chemical engineering, said for her, job placement is crucial. She needs the money to continue pursuing her master’s degree in business through night school.
Johnson described her job search as an ongoing process that began her sophomore year when she landed an internship with 3M.
The IT career center made Johnson’s internship possible by providing her with an on-campus interview with a 3M representative.
“They interview you, and if you pass the test, they make you an offer,” she said.
If everything goes according to her plans, she will remain with 3M upon graduation.
— Staff Reporter Kane Loukas contributed to this report.