Job prospects looking up for USF students
Published: Thursday, February 2, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2012 02:02
With significantly more jobs available now than in the last few years, the economic climate is finally beginning to improve, said Drema Howard, director of the USF Career Center.
Nationwide, unemployment was at 8.5 percent in December 2011, compared to 9.4 percent in December 2010, according to a January report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Florida, unemployment was at 9.9 percent, with 113,900 more people employed than in December 2010.
For USF students, this means an increase in job opportunities.
On Wednesday, the Career Center hosted the first day of its large, two-day Career Networking Fair in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom. The event is held each fall and spring semester, and Howard said it gives students an employment advantage.
"(The students) are not competing with the entire workforce," she said. "(The employers) will visit other campuses as well, but these companies have specifically selected USF because they see strong candidates here."
Howard said that two or three years ago, companies would contact her with one or two openings. Now, some of the larger corporations the Career Center works with, such as Geico and Target, are reporting more than 100 jobs available to students.
Nielsen and Target, which Howard said hires students of all majors, are approaching the Career Center to create a higher visibility for themselves on campus, as are the FBI, CIA and Department of State. Geico recruits USF students on a monthly basis.
In its heyday of 2006 and prior, more than 200 employers would participate in each career fair. Since then, fewer employers have recruited on campus, with only 99 in 2008 — the University's lowest total ever. Things are trending upward, though, as Wednesday's fair featured 142 employers, up from 133 last semester.
"In the last three semesters, we've really started to see that pick up," she said. "Employers first started to do job postings, then more started to come to the career fairs."
Samantha Hill, who graduated from USF in May 2011 with a degree in marketing, came back this year as a recruiter. Hill, a community manager with BlueGrace Logistics, said she has been promoted twice since joining the company as an intern following her attendance at the spring 2010 career fair.
"I would say there's a lot more variety in jobs (at Blue Grace Logistics)," she said. "Last year, it was mainly sales and a marketing internship we've been looking into. This year it was sales, a lot of accounting, a lot of information technology, as well as logistics professionals."
Microsoft, which joined the Career Networking Fair in spring 2011, will attend today's session after previously
finding more than six information specialists through a USF faculty member in computer science, Howard said. "(The Microsoft recruiter) was so impressed with our students that she ended up hiring and they said, ‘If we hire at least six from this university out of 135 students (who have applied), then … we will come back,'" Howard said. "And they ended up hiring more than that. They came back the next semester, and they're coming back (today)."
Between July and December 2010 — the first six months of USF's 2010-11 fiscal year — 7,941 jobs were posted through the Career Center. Within the 2011 portion of the fiscal year, 10,914 full-time and part-time jobs were posted with a 53 percent increase in internship positions, Howard said.
Howard attributed the increase to the baby-boomer generation — those born between the '40s and '60s — reaching retirement age, forcing employers to seek replacements.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported in its Job Outlook 2012 survey that 83 percent of 244 employers will hire students with a bachelor's degree in business, and 74.7 percent will hire students with a bachelor's degree in engineering.
Yet, Howard said employers in many fields are looking to hire, and the demand for certain industries, such as health care, accounting, Internet technology and construction, is stronger than others.