More students stymied in search for careers

Stephanie Kudrle

College students across the nation are finding it difficult to get career-related jobs, and University students are no exception.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.6 percent of full-time college students are unemployed – a 3.5 percent increase from 2000.

“We’ve seen a big decline in the percentage of people ages 16 to 24 in the labor force,” said Steve Hipple, an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “It’s probably the lowest it has been in 30 years.”

Hipple blamed the recession, which began in March 2001, for unemployment increases. He said the recession is over, but the labor market is one of the last things to rebound.

Although “traditional” student jobs such as food service and cashiers are available, Hipple said, students are seeking higher-paying, more relevant jobs for the professions for which they are studying.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Web site listed retail sales clerks and cashiers as jobs with numerous vacancies in the Twin Cities.

Norma Peterson, University Job Center director of human resources, said extra jobs are always available on campus, but not necessarily the kind students want.

“Some jobs are harder to find applicants for than others,” Peterson said. “We always have food service positions open if students really want to work.”

Peterson said the center receives approximately 500 applications each day for jobs. Peterson said not all applicants have the qualifications for the jobs they want.

“We have entry-level positions for those with a high school degree,” she said. “But we also have higher-level administrative jobs and fewer people qualify for those.”

Beat the odds

In the last two years, the statewide unemployment rate grew to nearly 5 percent – up almost an entire percentage point – according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development report.

While the national unemployment rate is higher, the report found that Minnesota is losing jobs faster than the rest of the nation.

Peterson said internships help students gain experience and build a resume, which makes finding a job easier.

Paul Timmins, Career and Community Learning Center career services coordinator, said internships are an important step in the job hunt.

“Internships empower students to go out and track things down themselves,” Timmins said.

The career center often holds workshops to help students learn other job-search strategies, Timmins said.

“We cover how to effectively network and make contacts,” he said. “And we go over the interviewing process.”

Although students can find jobs through Internet postings and newspaper ads, Timmins said, many students he worked with found jobs through professional networking.

“I would really just encourage people to start looking as soon as possible,” Timmins said. “It gets harder to find a job after graduation without doing these steps.”