Career Center: Preparing now will pay off later in job search

By Eric Heisig

Reality is not far away for this year’s seniors. Once they earn their degree, they may need to find a job.

According to the University Web site, 73 percent of seniors obtain a job within six months of graduating. Still, it is a concern for students looking to work within the parameters of their University major.

Preparation for a career during college has led to the success of many college graduates in finding a job. Graduates who struggled the least were looking while they were enrolled at the University.

“Someone who has prepped since the beginning is more likely to find a job right out of college,” said Damian Lay, assistant director of the University’s career center.

This was the case for Kelly O’Boyle, a 2007 alumna of Engineering. O’Boyle is currently employed by The Boeing Company, the largest global aircraft manufacturer, based in Chicago. O’Boyle said she was actively involved in the University as a student and attributed much of that to her success in pursuing a career related to her major study.

“I was active in many organizations in my undergrad career,” she said.

O’Boyle took several steps to landing a desirable position including attending job fairs, interviewing with many companies and working as an intern.

She added that she was not alone, and that many of her colleagues that succeeded were active and looking while they were students.

If students apply for the correct internships, companies like Boeing offer programs to hire students directly after graduation.

“(First) we hire them as interns from May to September, and then (students) take what we call an ‘educational leave of absence,'” said Cindy Wall, spokesperson for Boeing. “They go back, get their degree and come back and work for us.”

Wall said a large percentage of individuals who accept internships with Boeing remain with the company and eventually get a job.

“We have a lot of people set to retire in two to five years,” she said. “What are we going to do to fill the gap?”

Boeing, like many companies, applies a different set of stipulations to the recruiting process, depending on whether the candidate has been in the field for years or is fresh out of college. However, Wall said, these two types of candidates will probably not be competing for the same job.

“We have positions where we will be looking for someone with 15 or 20 years experience,” Wall said. “We would likely not be looking for someone right out of college for that,” Wall added, jokingly.

Employers say there is no specific advantage between comparable universities, but a degree from the University of Illinois is certainly not a disadvantage, Lay said.

“The University definitely produces quality students who are hirable,” Lay said.

However, graduating from the University means that you have a responsibility to perform.

“If you graduate with a certain GPA from a certain school, they expect you to know the basics,” O’Boyle said.