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New Grads Dive Into Improving Jobs Market

May 12, 2014

Ray Scherer, St. Joseph News-Press

New college graduates (file photo)  

New college graduates (file photo)

May 11--Kaitlyn Fisette began seeking employment well before the pomp that's a given for the graduation she experienced Saturday.

Ms. Fisette may have successfully completed requirements to walk in commencement at Missouri Western State University, but now finds herself fully immersed in a job search. She's developed a strategy that's optimistic for a productive landing in her fields of study. She has interned at the university's admissions office.

"I've been looking since about March, (for) something in communications and higher education," she said.

She intends to pick back up where she left off once she's finished with Study Abroad trips for communications conferences in Greece and Malta. For now, networking remains one of the chief tools at her disposal and is the best advice she can relay to fellow job seekers.

"It's hard to get experience," the Kansas City, Kan., resident said of one early frustration.

Yet Ms. Fisette's hopes may be justified somewhat by a slowly brightening outlook in hiring. According to the U.S. Labor Department, unemployment for last year's college graduates was 10.9 percent.

The department defines the category as representing those 20 to 29 years old who earned a four-year or advanced degree. The figure is down from the 13.3 percent logged for 2012 -- the lowest since a 7.7 jobless rate for college graduates in 2007. But as of last October, recent college graduates still displayed a 9.6 percent among all Americans in the age group.

Kay-lynne Taylor, director of Western's career development center and office of student employment and employer relations, said opportunities abound in numerous fields.

"We have been incredibly busy," she said. "It's a good problem to have."

Ms. Taylor said some Western grads have landed jobs with companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc., Altec and Cerner Corp.

Social media continues to play a larger role in helping determine the worthiness of a graduate's job search, she said. Technology is assuming a bigger slice of preparations, with students even using smart phones to become hired.

"Gone are the days of the job posting boards," Ms. Taylor said. "There are students interviewing through Skype."

Access to campus facilities for mock and real employer interviews has become a Griffon advantage. The ability to videotape the sessions adds another dimension to image improvements.

"We want students to understand impression management is key," Ms. Taylor said. "They're learning to be some very strong employees. They are definitely marketable."

At Northwest Missouri State University -- much like other institutions of higher education -- students are split between choosing careers locally or moving elsewhere. Director of career services Joan Schneider included agriculture and "anything to do with technology" as among the leading fields.

"Everyone has a different idea of what their dream is," she said. Even as graduates earn diplomas, "I see these people with specific plans."

Ms. Schneider said she advises graduates "to just be strategic" in their job outlook -- carefully reviewing skills, work history and any chances that may arise for a position. Internships are fair game.

"We always encourage students to get experience," she said. "It's important to know job opportunities in your industry. I believe there's a market there if you're intentional. The hardest thing is that first step."

Jenna Vandel, who serves as advising coordinator/accessibility services at North Central Missouri College in Trenton, said the institution's licensed practical and registered nursing programs have become highlights.

"Many health care facilities are familiar with the program and look for employees" from North Central, Ms. Vandel said.

Companies routinely contact career services departments to list job openings, she added.

"These companies are specifically looking for recent graduates, meaning they are aware the applicants may not have a lot of work experience in the field," she said.

Ms. Vandel said students need to research a prospective employer ahead of a job interview and ensure they identify how they can become an asset through their education and experience.

Western students attend St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce events as a way of networking and to embrace "civic engagement," Ms. Taylor said.

Ray Scherer can be reached

at ray.scherer@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.


(c)2014 the St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, Mo.)

Visit the St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, Mo.) at www.newspressnow.com/index.html

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Original headline: College grads plunging into job market

Source: (c)2014 the St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, Mo.)

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