December grads face double-digit unemployment

St. Thomas’ December graduates will be the first in a generation to enter a job market that has double-digit unemployment.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) college-grad hiring fell 22 percent and is expected to drop another 7 percent this year. With this drop, many graduates will have to work extra hard to find jobs.

“It is going to be a lot of work [and] it is going to be a job in itself,” said Diane Crist, Career Development Center director. “[Students] need to really spend time on their resume and focus. By focusing somewhat on different areas it’s going to give them a better chance to network within the career field to get to a job that is a good starting place for them.”

The Career Development Center has upgraded its job placement programs by offering more opportunities to prepare students for networking and job interviews.

In preparation for the Minnesota Private College Job and Internship Fair, the center is adding a segment called the “PM Scene,” which is designed as a tool to work with students on how to present themselves to prospective employers.

Emphasizing networking abilities

“It is going to be like a cocktail party but we are going to train students on how to network,” Crist said. “It is kind of the elevator speech idea, how to present yourself in under a minute putting your best foot forward to get the conversation started.”

This event is still in the planning stages but will take place Feb. 11, a week prior to the job and internship fair.

Graduating senior Danielle Goldfarb has used the center’s resources and she got an internship this past summer, which resulted in a job offer.

But Goldfarb’s job does not start until the fall of 2010. Because of the job market, they cannot hire her immediately after the semester is over. In the meantime, Goldfarb plans to move home to Duluth to save money on rent and study for the Uniformed CPA accounting test.

“I just know that a lot of people in general are applying for any posting and I kind of lucked out,” Goldfarb said.

St. Thomas grads have high hiring rates

Despite the difficult job market, St. Thomas has shown impressive hiring rates as about 93 percent of the 2008 graduates have found jobs since graduation. The 2009 surveys are going on now and the results may reflect the downturn more.

Other students are preparing for their future by taking the GRE exam and applying for graduate school. Senior Molly Kurtz, who is a psychology major, is taking this path but hopes to find a job in her field to help her gain experience.

“I am more nervous to graduate than excited because there [are] not a lot of jobs and I am not exactly sure what I am going to do,” Kurtz said.

Alumni, not just students seeking center’s services

December graduates are not the only ones having to enter the difficult job market, as Crist has seen an increase in the number of alumni who seek the center’s services.

According to Crist, alumni from as many as 20 years ago have been in the office in search of career advice due to layoffs and other cuts.

“Everyone is feeling the stress, but alumni have the added stress of family responsibilities and children and they are perhaps juggling more than some undergraduate students,” Crist said.

Career development center

College career development centers have also felt the wrath of the economy with 55 percent of colleges having to cut spending plans according the NACE. Crist is thankful that staffing at St. Thomas has not had to make the same cuts.

College graduate unemployment rate is about half of the national rate

Crist is confident in college graduates finding jobs because national statistics show that the college graduate unemployment rate is about half of what the national rate is.

“College students are out doing better than the rest of the population,” Crist said. “People need people who can train and have transferable skills. Employers know that the future lies with bright, educated people.”

Brian Matthews can be reached at