Flexibility important for tough market

By Andy Kwalwaser

Courtney Hildenbrand, senior in Communications, waited in the Career Center for an appointment on a busy Wednesday afternoon.

Hildenbrand said her hopes are set on a job at Harpo Studios, Oprah Winfrey’s Chicago production company, because it is “an organization that would give me a chance to explore many paths.”

Flexibility is an important asset for graduates entering the job market, said Damian Lay, assistant director of the Career Center.

“You might not start off with your ideal position,” Lay said. “A lot of students are fixated with getting the ideal job right away.”

Dr. Gail Rooney, director of the Career Center, said that 50 to 70 students seek appointments each day for help navigating the job market.

A recent study by Michigan State University found new graduates might have difficulty entering their preferred fields immediately after leaving school.

“Even though there are less employers seeking their major, if they are willing to put in the work they will be able to find something,” Lay said.

The study also found a growing demand for graduates with engineering and environmental science degrees.

“I’m looking into firms that want sustainable design,” said Jeffrey Lesh, president of the Environmental Design Consortium registered student organization. “There are a lot of students looking for internships and jobs.”

Corporate demand is highest for graduates with business degrees. Almost 50 percent of businesses who responded to the Michigan State study reported a strong interest in hiring business majors who are new to the job market.

The availability of jobs for new graduates is not uniform around the country.

According to the study, approximately 20 percent of Great Lakes businesses are receptive to applicants new to the workforce.

Graduates have a better chance of immediately finding work elsewhere in the Midwest.

“All my family is in Illinois, so I don’t want to move out of state,” Hildenbrand said.

However, other factors play a role in locating a job.

“Most would like to stay somewhere they’re familiar with, but there are a good number drawn to the big cities,” Lay said.

Mark Padolina, junior in LAS, said he is looking for summer internships close to home, but that he has found more opportunities in Washington, D.C.

“I would like to stay in Chicago, but I’m looking for something to get me into law school,” he said.