By Jordana Kozupsky
The official unemployment rate for people 25 years and older with a bachelor’s degree has nearly doubled since 2008, reaching 4.7 percent in May from 2 percent three years ago, according to documents released by the Becker Career Center.
Becker saw approximately 60 percent of the senior class, 50 percent of the junior class, 40 percent of the sophomore class and 25 percent of the freshmen class this past year, showing a 57 percent increase in total appointments and 55 percent increase in seniors specifically since 2008.
With an overall United States unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, Director of Becker Career Center Bob Soules attributes the increased number of visits to the fact that students are more aware of the job environment.
“I can’t think of a worse job market,” expressed Soules. “No matter how you look at it, it’s a tough one.”
Careers relating to technology and healthcare were the only fields that both Soules and Pete Fowler, the Senior Associate Director of the Career Center, felt had not seen a reduction in the number of available job postings. Thus, computer engineering and computer sciences, traditional medical jobs and jobs in healthcare technology still boast a strong market.
On the other end of the spectrum is a field that appeals to most liberal arts students: communications. “I would say the communications area has taken the beating,” Soules stated, specifically citing the traditional journalism field. For those interesting in writing, Soules suggested that English majors begin to look at writing done in the digital space, as the wave of e-technology is taking over traditional print media.
Despite the increased difficulties in finding a job, Becker’s approach to counseling hasn’t really changed. According to Soules, employers still tell him the same thing; they want “smart students who can communicate effectively, work well with others, and have genuine interest in the opportunity.”
In addition, Union students are still going into the same fields as they always have: education, sales, engineering, finance, non-profit and, of course, technology and healthcare.
In response to poor job market conditions, Becker encourages students to get involved in the job search process earlier. “We want to engage students earlier because it is a more competitive market,” Fowler explained, and that means getting a head start on internships, research, and volunteer experience. Becker’s numbers prove that seniors especially are getting more involved in the job search process earlier. This past fall term, Becker had 520 senior appointments compared to 305 in the fall of 2009.
Becker stresses that the most important step at any point in the job search process is networking. This includes using the alumni database located right in the career center, which provides students with access to Union alumni working in their fields of interest.
Both Fowler and Soules shared that most of the recent alumni they have spoken to admit the same three things: the job search is a lot harder and takes a lot more time than they thought; it is important to get relevant experiences and be able to talk about it; and they wish they had used the career center earlier in their college careers, especially for the alumni networking aspect.