Friday, May 10, 2002

New grads gear up in down job market

Outlook bleak as weak economy reduces hiring

By Kristina Goetz,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        As college graduates across the Tristate prepare to enter the job market, this year's senior class will face some of the toughest job prospects in years.

    A study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicates there will be a 36.4 percent decrease in the hiring of college graduates compared to a year ago. Here are projected drops, by industry:
    • Service employers, 27.1 percent.
    • Manufacturers, 51.7 percent.
    • Non-profits, 22 percent.
    • Consulting employers, 89.7.
    • Computer/business equipment manufacturing, 58.7.
    Bucking the trend are federal government employers, who expect to hire 16.2 percent more new college graduates.
        A study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows employers expect to hire 36.4 percent fewer college graduates than they hired a year ago. Numerous researchers cite the changing demographic profile of the work force and a weak economy.

        In addition, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 affected the labor market by further decreasing consumer confidence and putting off hiring.

        Some industries — consulting and automotive/equipment manufacturers — report reducing hiring more than 60 percent.

        “It helps to have a plan, a short-term strategy particularly in this labor market because they may not find the kind of job they're working for or the job that meets their expectations,” said Phil Gardner, research center director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University.

        “I hate to tell them that, but work is not always fun. And there's no guarantee.”

        To gauge the success of job seekers, The Cincinnati Enquirer today kicks off a yearlong series that will follow five graduates in their quest to find a career.

        These are the graduates:

Brett Bombick, 23, Miami University.
Hometown: Springboro, Ohio. Major: Mass communications

        Mr. Bombick was one of 3,209 Miami University graduates to receive their diplomas Sunday.

        “It kind of hit me the other day,” he said. “Wow, I have to support myself now.”

        His final semester kept the Miami student so busy with his class load that he has had little time to make a resume tape for the broadcast sports reporting position he covets. Still, Mr. Bombick hopes to snag a full-time job in television by August.

        He plans to enlist the help of some former co-workers at WKEF (Channel 22), the NBC affiliate in Dayton where he interned for two years, to set up a mock sports broadcast. He has plenty of raw material but needs to edit his three best stand-ups.

        Mr. Bombick said he will apply for 30 to 50 positions, mostly in small markets. “If I strike out there, I'll expand it to 100,” he said.

        He knows a smaller market, Tuscaloosa, Ala., for example, will mean a smaller salary — $15,000 to $20,000 a year.

        And with thousands of dollars in loan debt, he said, he won't have a lot of extras in his life right now.

        “It's part of it,” he said. “Take your lumps in a small market and work your butt off for a few years.”


Amanda Clayton, 22, University of Cincinnati.
Hometown: Philadelphia. Major: Music education.

        Ms. Clayton will finish student teaching in the Wyoming school district June 5 and plans to move to Boston after graduation to be with her fiance, who will attend graduate school at Boston University. The two plan to be married in July 2003.

        Now, she teaches elementary and middle school students how to play the violin and viola.

        She has sent out eight applications for specific jobs and has been checking the Boston Globe Web site and music education Web sites for three to four weeks.

        “I think it's a little early yet for education jobs,” she said. “They don't usually post jobs until May or June.”

        She and her fiance can pay their rent with his stipend, so she feels OK about not having a job nailed down.

        The College Conservatory of Music graduate faces a couple thousand dollars in loans.

        “If I don't get a job I'll move there and teach private lessons and get a substituting job for a year,” she said.

Jeff Hershner, 26, College of Mount St. Joseph.
Hometown: Miami Heights. Major: Computer information systems.

        Mr. Hershner is finishing his thesis, a new system he is creating to help schedule volunteer divers at the Newport Aquarium. It's due Monday. The system, which he hopes could replace the aquarium's word-of-mouth system, would allow divers to link to a calendar on a Web page and see a schedule in real time.

        “I'm trying to beat them to the punch,” he said.

        By attending several colleges — the University of Rio Grande in Rio Grande, Ohio, and the University of Cincinnati — he lost some credits and is completing his degree at the College of Mount St. Joseph.

        He has a co-op job at Besse Medical Supply in Forest Park, where he has worked in the information technology department for the past eight months, setting up computers, upgrading and downloading software and working on the help desk.

        The company keeps extending the co-op, though he said he doesn't know how long that will continue.

        Meantime, Mr. Hershner said he is sending out resumes to the IRS, Cinergy and a handful of other local businesses. He hopes to have his first full-time job lined up by September.

        With loan debt of $40,000, he hopes his salary will at least meet that amount.

        “If they offer 50 or 60 (thousand) they won't have to twist my arm,” he said, laughing.

Demetrius Perkins, 23, Northern Kentucky University.
Hometown: Lexington, Ky. Major: Finance.

        Mr. Perkins is one of six interns at Fidelity Investments in the firm's Covington office who hope to parlay their internships into full-time positions.

        Mr. Perkins has had the 40-plus-hour-a-week internship since January and will complete it at the end of May. He works in diversified services and monitors financial reports such as income statements to verify that everything balances.

        “Hopefully I've done a good enough job to stay on with the company,” he said.

        But Mr. Perkins, who has been an NKU student since 1997, is not putting all his eggs in one basket.

        “I've been putting my resume out, networking,” he said, adding that he also attended a job fair in April at NKU where he met with about 20 companies. (He gave his resume to six of them.)

        He hopes to find work in Ohio or Tennessee and make $30,000.

        Scholarships and grants his sophomore and junior years helped keep his student loan debt down to $10,000.

        “Compared to some of my friends, it's not bad,” he said.

Michaela Siewert, 21, Xavier University.
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wis. Major: Organizational communications.

        Ms. Siewert, who has worked as a cook and waitress at Max & Erma's in Rookwood Commons throughout college, plans to keep the position full time over the summer.

        She has had six interviews in the last four months for sales and marketing positions as well as internships, but she called most of those practice interviews.

        She is most interested in an AmeriCorps position with a non-profit called Public Allies. It focuses on community and economic development in 10 cities across the United States, including Cincinnati.

        AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that engage more than 50,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet needs in education, public safety, health and the environment. Participants receive a monthly stipend.

        Ms. Siewert has a second interview May 20 for a 10-month position.

        “I'm still looking at options,” she said. “At this point in my life, I have the time and the opportunity to give back to my community instead of 10 years from now.”

        Eventually, her goal is to work in conflict management, events planning or consulting.

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