Graduates find fewer job options as economy slows

Joanna Dornfeld

Ahmed Siddiqui faced a tighter job market when he graduated last May from the Carlson School of Management than his classmates encountered the previous spring.

Nationally, employers expect to hire 19.7 percent fewer college graduates in 2001-02 than in 2000-01, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2002 survey.

In the Midwest, employers expect to hire 17.6 percent fewer graduates the survey said.

Siddiqui said he was fortunate to find a job with IBM but felt his entrepreneurial studies major gave him an advantage when applying.

“I know a big chunk of the small business community in Minneapolis,” he said.

In addition to working for IBM, Siddiqui launched an Internet auction site, BlazingInferno.com, this week. A site geared specifically for University students, it will have services including a personalized calendar that will automatically set a schedule based on the user’s interests.

“It makes sense for me to do it because I can help out (students) based on my experience,” Siddiqui said.

Siddiqui wrote the business proposal for Blazing Inferno, Inc., in a business-plan writing class at the University.

Corporations are looking for students who understand corporate venturing and the other skills taught in the entrepreneurial studies program, said Alan Fine, director of undergraduate entrepreneurial studies. Students learn finance, management and interpersonal skills in the program.

The entrepreneurial studies program emphasizes finding a career that best suits each individual’s lifestyle goals including health, companionship and time spent working.

A slowing economy

Siddiqui was fortunate to find his IBM position, but other graduating students are having a more difficult time finding work in the slowing economy.

“At this point in time (the economy is) in an unsettled period,” said Sharon Kurtt, Institute of Technology career services director.

About the same number of businesses are coming to the Institute of Technology career fair this fall, but they will not be interviewing as many students as in the past.

“I doubt that they are going to be hiring at the same level as last year,” Kurtt said.

Career fairs are also a way to make contacts with businesses about summer internships, which can establish relationships with potential employers.

To combat the tight market, students need to start their job search a year ahead of time, Kurtt said.

“(Students’) job search requires a great deal of initiative on their part,” said Paul Timmins, career services coordinator in the College of Liberal Arts.

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science has also seen a decrease in job offerings for its students, but there are still more than enough job offers for graduates.

“In the past, I’d say four years ago, there were about five jobs for every graduate we were able to turn out, so there was a surplus of jobs,” said Alan Hunter, associate dean for undergraduate studies in the college. “Now that has slowed down so that at this point, I think we are looking at three jobs for every graduate.”

There are fewer job offers because businesses have consolidated. Instead of three recruiters, there is just one, Hunter said.

There is no way to know what will happen to the economy in the months to come, Kurtt said.

“I think students need to be aware that they need to work as hard as in a better hiring market,” Kurtt said. “It is hopeful that the job market will improve after the new year.”

 

Joanna Dornfeld welcomes comments at [email protected]