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Seniors encounter scarce-job world

BY JENNIFER DELGADO | MAY 15, 2009 7:30 AM

UI senior Emily Samuels thought her postgraduation plans were set after officials at C.H. Robinson, a logistics company in Chicago, offered her a job last October.

But all that changed when company officials rescinded their job offer in February, blaming the economy for the decision.

“It was a scary feeling — all these months I hadn’t been looking for another job,” the communications major said. “Suddenly, I had to play catch up.”

With commencement ceremonies on top of them, more graduating seniors are learning that landing a job in a faltering economy could be more difficult than they had originally thought. Only approximately 6,650 of 35,000 graduating seniors in the country who applied for jobs are employed, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

“Companies are not in a position to hire as many employees this year as they were last year,” said Edwin Koc, the director of strategic and foundation research for the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Employers expect to hire 20 percent fewer employees from the class of 2009 than from the class of 2008.

“Even if the economy turned around tomorrow, the market wouldn’t change until the end of the year,” he said.

UI Pomerantz Career Center officials said they work with graduating students who are still unemployed at the end of each school year. Roughly 60 students attended the Job Search Strategies in a Tough Economy workshop in April, said Angi McKie, the career center’s director of marketing and public relations. Twenty students are signed up for the May session.

Along with the bleak job market, some graduating students are jobless because they began their job search late in the school year, said Amy A’Hearn, a career adviser at the center.

UI senior Carl Franzen said he wanted to focus on finishing final projects and papers before he began looking for jobs, and he recently began his search by posting résumés on online websites.

“I haven’t thought enough about it, but it’s only because I’ve been focused on school,” said the journalism and religious-studies major.

After attending the spring job and internship fair, Samuels said, she was able to find another job.

“It’s a frustrating time for graduating seniors,” the 21-year-old said, and she noticed fewer employers attended the career fair.

Despite few job prospects, seniors are still determined to enter the workforce.

“The fact that they haven’t gotten an offer yet hasn’t diminished their confidence,” Koc said. “The majority think they will get a job within three months of graduation.”

Officials at the UI Pomerantz Career Center agreed.

“College students need to realize they are very employable,” A’Hearn said. “People are hiring, but the process may take longer than [students] want.”


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