Economy takes promising turn for students on a job hunt

Students looking for internships or full time jobs may be in luck because the economy is starting to see growth in the job market, according to Director of Career Development Rick Smith.

“[The economy is looking] better,” he said. “I recently attended [a] yearly recruiting conference that universities and employers attend. There’s a study a colleague does where he contacts several thousand employers about what will be going on for recruiting college grads in the next nine to 12 months, and according to his study, things are looking good.”

Even if the economy is starting to turn around, Smith said finding a job will still be difficult.

“Even if things are looking better, it doesn’t mean it will be an easy year,” he said. “The labor market is slightly improved, there are signs of growth and there’s hope. But this means that there will be competition between this year’s grads and last year’s, as well as others.”

Smith said there is growth in all areas of the workforce.

“Anything dealing with agriculture is seeing the strongest growth,” he said. “There are also signs of growth in retail, information systems, professional services, health, the oil and gas industry, heavy construction and utilities. There are no real trouble areas, not even in education. The way employers hire varies from employer to employer so it’s tough to say how hiring will change. It varies by industry and need.”

Employers are not necessarily looking for students with a certain major, Smith said.

“Employers are looking for all majors,” he said. “They’re looking for someone who has a degree and has shown success. They look for students with leadership skills in either leadership roles or internships, and then they will train them. [Students can find] leadership roles in campus organizations, professional associations, significant class projects and really anywhere if they’re doing something meaningfully that will relate to what they want to do.”

Smith said students should relate job searching to dating.

“First, like on a first date, you need to try to get to know and research the company you want to work for,” he said. “Then comes group dating, where in this case you’d go to job fairs and informational meetings. Then comes the first real date, which would be job shadowing or an internship. You may try something else from there if it doesn’t fit, until you feel right. Students need to do their research to see what’s best for them.”

Over winter break, the Smith Career Center closes on Dec. 22 and will reopen Jan. 3 to help students.

“I also recommend that students learn to use eRecruiting and other sites specific and relevant to the field they’re interested in,” Smith said. “Students should also polish their resume and cover letter, and learn more about the entire job search process, as well as potential employers. If they find a fit, they should apply. It takes about nine months to secure what you want in a full time job, so be patient.”