Job outlook improves, still tough for recent graduates

Chris Hamrick

In the months after the graduation of Villanova’s Class of 2010, 67 percent of graduates are employed, 26 percent are in graduate school and 3 percent are still looking, according to the University’s Career Center.

Yet nationally, the Class of 2010 entered the job market this year with sky-high unemployment rates.

The Economic Policy Institute reported recently that the youth labor force from ages 16-24 has decreased by 1.1 million workers since the beginning of the recession in 2008. 

“We know that many college graduates have faced a tougher job market over the last few years,” said Carl Fillichio, senior adviser to the Secretary of Labor. “In this climate, employers are less likely to take risks on students who may have a lot of potential but who don’t have a record of experience. That means that experiential learning, such as apprenticeships, internships and part-time jobs, is more important now than ever.”

And while the market is still ailing, the employment statistics for the Class of 2010 show that job availability for college graduates is improving when compared to those of the Class of 2009.

“From the Class of 2010, 24 percent of graduates who applied before graduation had a job,” said Andrea Koncz, the employment information manager at the National Association of Colleges and Employers. “This was a 4.3 percent improvement over the class of 2009, when it was 19.7 percent, which can be attributed to the overall improvement in the economy.” 

Despite the improving conditions in the job market, recent graduates understand the need to be more proactive in their job searches.

“After graduation, I knew finding a job I wanted would be difficult,” said Maggie Mallon, an ’10 graduate. “When the unemployment rate is exceeding 9 percent, you know it’s not the best economic climate to be looking for permanent employment.”

For students making decisions on career choices and majors based on the employment situation, there is certainly a lot of promise in the field of medicine following President Obama’s landmark health reform laws, according to Dudak. 

“The current economy demands agility and entrepreneurship in navigating one’s career,” said Nancy Dudak, the director of the Career Center at Villanova. “It’s critical to be able to move around in an organization and to take responsibility for promoting your talents and work ethic.”

Accounting, finance, civil engineering and mechanical engineering were the fields that had the largest figures in terms of employment for Villanova, based on statistics provided by the Career Center.

“If graduate school was in your plans, it might be a good idea to go now rather than wait,” Dudak said.

However, graduate school should not serve as a waiting room for those trying to avoid the unstable market. 

The time and money spent do not guarantee an increased likelihood for job placement, according to Dudak. 

Piling on unpaid internships and work experiences that may be fiscally unappealing or unattractive at first can be the best way to diversify your knowledge and ease your way into the workplace, according to Fillichio.

“Find the courses that you are passionate about, and look for growing careers that will allow you to apply what you’ve learned in new and innovative ways,” Fillichio said. “And I cannot stress enough how important mentors are to a career. Surround yourself with positive people that you can learn from, ask advice and guide you.”

The Career Center conducts a Senior Survey each year to identify the number of students who are employed, seeking employment or going to graduate school within six months of graduation, according to its website.

Students can also report full-time job offers that they receive via a form on the website.