Kelly Schramm was offered a job at PNC Bank via voicemail right before she took her hardest final.
Schramm took that final in December 2008 and is now entering her last week as an undergraduate finance major with one less thing to worry about – finding a job, a task many graduating seniors are struggling to complete.
The number of jobs posted on the Fox School of Business’ career site, FoxNet, recently decreased by 5.2 percent, said Megan Rimer, associate director of corporate relations for the Center for Student Professional Development.
But the job hunt is not hopeless.
“While it is difficult [to find a job], it is not impossible,” said Greg DeShields of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management’s CSPD. “Students need to be flexible in choosing employers.”
DeShields, the senior director of corporate relations for CSPD, said many students who are graduating this May are not making enough compromises to adapt to the economic climate.
“That will change,” he said. “A reality check will come into play when they graduate and realize that they do need to make concessions.”
Graduating Spanish major Joy Northington is conscious of the rocky market and is making concessions of her own.
“I just stopped looking for jobs,” said Northington, who will attend massage school after graduating. “But it makes more sense to go to school now while I have the time and the economy is trash.”
Other students have seen the economy’s toll on the job market as reasons not to look at all, depending on their field.
“There’s no rush [to find a job] because of the economy and my field is looking kind of bleak,” said Pete Vetterlein, a criminal justice major who will graduate in August.
Because his dream entry-level position as a probation or parole officer is affected by Philadelphia’s current hiring freeze, Vetterlein was forced to rethink where he will look for jobs – like in his home state of New Jersey – and what he will do after graduating.
If he finds a job, Vetterlein said he wants more than $30,000 a year so he can pay for rent.
“I’m taking a year off because I need to mature a little,” Vetterlein said, adding his original plan to attend law school will be put on hold due to both the increased applicant competition and lack of funds.
Many students have opted to attend graduate school in an effort to thwart entrance into the career field, but for senior Ashley Buster, furthering her education was always the plan.
“I’ve always wanted to get all of the qualifications and then an amazing job,” the BTMM major said. “[The plan] has proven to work for more than one reason with the economy the way it is.”
Buster plans to work part-time while studying her undergraduate minor, theater, as students and businesses alike are tight on money.
“There are fewer positions overall,” Rimer said, adding that big companies that used to look for 15 to 20 recruits now look for only five to 10.
DeShields echoed Rimer’s observances and said some corporations still come to recruitment meet and greets not to hire but to gain visibility among younger undergraduates, who will hopefully enter a more stable job market.
Despite the decrease in positions, Schramm said many of her friends who are finance majors don’t have jobs only because they have multiple offers and are weighing their options.
“PNC was the first company I applied for and the only offer I got,” Schramm said.
Schramm emphasized a “job isn’t going to be handed to you,” and she and her friends maintained healthy GPAs.
“A GPA is the first way to eliminate people,” she said, but Rimer said employers also look for “specific competencies” such as prior internship experience, communication, leadership and project and time management.
DeShields said the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management requires students complete two internships before they graduate, many of which lead to permanent positions.
“The internship is pivotal in their ability to secure a position,” he said. “They are there for 90 days, which is the probationary period for most jobs.”
Buster said she realizes the importance of getting her name out there, especially in the communications field.
“[It’s] pure networking,” she said. “[They] hire from within or choose an intern or a favorite student. It’s important to use the people around you.”
Even companies’ interests in internships have spiked. Rimer said in contrast to the decreased number of jobs posted, there has been a 6.7 percent increase in the number of internships.
“A majority of them are paid, and every unpaid internship is pre-screened,” Rimer said, advising that graduating students who opt for an internship to make sure there is “substance” to it so they’re gaining worthwhile experience.
While Schramm praised the business school’s CDSP program, Fox “really pushes it on students” and requires they take certain interview and résumé preparation classes.
DeShields said in Fall 2008, his department began “enlightening students” by making them “aware of economic factors,” but sometimes, it is up to the student.
“With students being students, some are more proactive, and others are slow to take that charge,” he said.
In the business sector, a lot of the bigger employers began looking in the fall, when Schramm secured her position in the Accel Management Training Program at PNC.
Rimer said employers are still looking.
“By nature, [it’s] different in other industries,” Rimer said. “There are different processes, but employers are always looking for a specific skill set.”
Ashley Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.