SLU students search for direction in tough economy -

SLU students search for direction in tough economy

SLU) -- Beth Wurtzler was “surprised” when she began searching for jobs relating to the biomedical engineering degree that she will receive from Saint Louis University at her graduation on May 15.  After five months, Wurtzler never heard back from any of the companies she applied for, and without an employer, she has instead decided to continue her education at the University of Cincinnati’s graduate school.

    “I am not really sure where I stand; and grad school gives me the opportunity to broaden my horizons,” Wurtzler said. “It is kind of a reality check to hear that you are so great, and then these companies don’t want you.” 

Out of 2009’s graduating class, 54 percent are employed and 39 percent are in graduate school, according to SLU’s Career Services.  Kimberly Reitter, director of Career Services, instructs her staff of career counselors to have the students focus on networking and how to navigate job possibilities.

The staff at Career Services assisted more than 500 seniors last year with their career searches, and she is optimistic about the job market for the class of 2010.

“The job market is looking better for now, and it should be an easier year for our graduates,” Reitter said. “The economy is a big part of it.  I think that if they create a realistic job search plan, they should be able to find a job.”

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2010 Spring Update, the job market appears to be increasing; employers expect to hire 5.3 percent more college graduates than last year.  NACE monitors the hiring outlook for new college graduates with a variety of surveys and polls to potential employers. The Job Outlook 2010 Spring Update survey was conducted from March 1 to April 9, with 177 employers participating. Of the participants, 28.3 percent were from the Midwest.

“I think it is just an employer’s market. Those companies have so many applicants so they can be more selective and choose the more experienced applicants,” Wurtzler said. “Career Services was not particularity helpful for my job search.”

Dan Finucane, another graduating senior, has found Career Services an “extremely helpful” resource on campus.  Finucane will be attending graduate school at Boston College for his master’s in theological studies.  Earlier this semester, he was offered a teaching position in theology and philosophy. 

Finucane declined the offer, deciding instead to continue his education.

“I am optimistic about finding a job in the future,” Finucane said.  “SLU has helped me figure out what I wanted to do and how I could better serve others.”

The general services that Career Services provide include helping current students and alumni decide on the majors and careers that would benefit them and how they could obtain those positions.  Some recent graduates have found success in the job market, crediting networking and career planning as the keys to their success.

Tyler Brownfield, a 2009 SLU graduate, is a management consultant for a marketing company. Brownfield credited a contact that he met three years ago with his current job, as that contact allowed him to explore his options at that company.

“I utilized the services offered by Career Services and I think the biggest thing is just to work the connections that you have,” Brownfield said. “I absolutely love my job, and that job is a direct result of my experience at SLU and those connections I made.”

Reitter stressed the importance of networking experiences.

“Internships can really help make a candidate more attractive, and knowing more people within a given field can really help open doors to a potential employer,” Reitter said.

Jonathan Ernst is a Journalism student at Saint Louis University

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