1998 good year to be graduating

By Heather Condley Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Area students who are getting ready to graduate from college this year can look forward to a prosperous job search _ that is if they haven't already found a job.

According to career placement officials at Kent State University and the University of Akron, the job market for 1998 graduates seems to be wide open for those students who are dedicated to finding a job.

"Overall, from what I observe in the office and as far as employers and interviews go, the students seem to be doing well in terms of their job search," said Pamela Van De Weert, associate director of The Career Services Center at KSU. "In terms of employers visiting the campus to interview students, those numbers are continuing to climb. Last year we had close to 400 and anticipate we're going to be over that number by quite a bit this year."

For the first time in several years, the job market is growing for college graduates, Kim Beyer, associate director for placement operations in counseling, testing and career center at AU, said.

"Between the past three or five years (the job market) has been competitive. Three or five years ago we had graduates who were having trouble. Of course there are always strong majors that are in demand," she said. "This year, however, the job market has tremendously grown and increased in the number of job opportunities. I think that the economy is getting a lot better, but also students are doing a better job of defining what they want in a job."

KSU's most recent graduate survey, which includes the May, August and December graduates of the class of 1995, found that 97 percent of more than 1,000 respondents from that class are either employed or continuing their education, Van De Weert said. Broken down, 86 percent of the graduates are employed while the other 11 percent are continuing their education. The survey of 1996 graduates is not yet complete.

While both women agree that some students will have a difficult time finding a job, they also say that the ability to get a job often depends on a students' willingness to work at it.

"I think each individual person has to look at what they're targeting, in terms of relocation and looking at different types of employers and positions. It really varies by the choices that the student is making for themselves," Van De Weert said. "A student should be using a variety of techniques in their job search."

Some of those techniques include looking at job postings in the career services office, going through KSU's rsum referral service and attending job fairs.

A health and human services job fair is being held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 8 in the Kent Student Center Ballroom and the career services end of the year job fair will be held during the same time period in the ballroom April 30.

In addition, Van De Weert said the Internet is an excellent place to find jobs.

"The networking process is also very important. For example. a public relations major should go talk to employers who are (at job fairs) even if the employer is looking for a sales position. Make some of those connection and don't just look for the obvious."

Van De Weert acknowledges that there are some students who don't feel comfortable networking, and to help the KSU office offers "drop-in" hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. everyday, during which time a counselor will be on hand to critique rsums or cover letters. Students can also set up appointments to have a counselor conduct a mock interview.

"No one is going to just hand them a job. Our purpose is to help the employers and the students connect. (Students) have to take some responsibility on how they are presenting themselves," she said.

"Candidates and students need to take responsibility for their own careers," Beyer said. "They need to set both short-term and long-term goals _ what do I want to do in 10 or 15 years down the road. They also need to continue learning in whatever fashion, whether it is through job training or coming back to school for further education training. They need to be self-motivated and they need to be flexible."

While the four of five years a student is in college seem to fly by, both Van De Weert and Beyer suggest students begin their career search early.

"We encourage candidates to begin their job search at least in the junior year, but it is certainly a wise idea for sophomores to build a rsum and do some networking," Beyer said. "We still have students that wait until the last minute or until graduate to look for that position, but even though the market is good, it is still tight and competitive and is still taking four to five months to find that position."

Van De Weert suggests signing up with her office early, as they also offer help finding summer jobs, campus employment and part-time jobs.

"We have students who get involved from the very beginning, and then there are students who work and don't have time and chose to wait until closer to graduation," she said. "Ideally, we want them to hook into our office early. We do a lot of interviews during the fall semester and they don't want to miss out on any employers."

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