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Uncertainty after graduation

Changes in the business cycle are common, yet the future of the economy is uncertain. With recession most commonly defined as a temporary slowdown in economic activity, impending graduates can’t help but wonder what effects the recession will have on their job search.

“With the economy in recession, I’ve got a feeling that it’s going to be a lot harder for graduates to get jobs,” said Melyssa Kaspers, a senior majoring in psychology.

Before the recession began in March, Kaspers was borderline between taking a year off from school or going straight into the work force after her scheduled December graduation. The current economic condition has prompted her to pursue further education.

“The right thing to do is to stay in school,” she said, planning to explore Harvard’s pre-med program after graduation.

Ed Ford, a USF economics professor, said the current economic contraction, particularly decreases in production, income and stock prices, are focuses of the dramatic increase in the unemployment rate.

The October unemployment rate climbed to 5.4 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. November’s results will come out Friday, but Ford said it seems there is no relief for the economy or college graduates.

“I doubt that the November unemployment rate will go down and will more than likely increase,” Ford said. “This means there will be more people willing and able to work but unable to find a job.”

With the job market in question, pursuing graduate studies could be the best option. “Now is definitely a good time to stay in school and increase college education,” Ford said.

Ford also said that the majority of college graduates who become unemployed after entering the labor market tend to return to school in pursuit of higher education.

With an unstable economy, staying in school and enhancing college education might be the most risk-free decision for students after graduation, Ford said. But one student said taking a chance in the job market might not be such a crazy idea either.

“The economy will pick up sooner or later. We just have to grind through the next year or so,” said Aleks Popovic, a senior majoring in interpersonal communications who graduates this semester. “In spite of the recession, I’ve been able to obtain numerous interviews. You just have to keep your head up and eyes open.”

Popovic advocates staying aware of everything encountered throughout the job search. “You never know when you’ll run into someone or something that could help you out along the way,” he said.

Drema Howard, director for the USF Career Center, questions whether there will be relief in the spring.

“It’s hard to tell, though there is no question that this is a different economy – in terms of the labor market – than our students are used to seeing,” she said. Less employment brings an increase in competition, but there will be jobs available for college grads.”

Howard said that when students take the “there’s nothing out there for me” approach, it impedes their chances at opportunity, even in steady economic conditions.

“The recession has converted the economy’s labor market from job-seeking to employer-driven,” Howard said. “Still, jobs are obtainable for the students who make their own opportunity.”

For graduates planning on entering the employment market, Ford recommends starting early when searching for opportunity.

“To be successful, you have to mount a systematic job search and take advantage of all the tools available to you in order to have a better chance at a job,” he said.

Howard said the Career Center is available to anyone wishing to enhance his or her chance at obtaining post-academic employment. According to its Web site, the Center’s primary mission is to assist students and graduates in transitioning from college to the labor market by providing information about employment opportunities. They create venues for students to network and interview with possible employers.

Also, the Career Center encourages students and graduates to upload their resumes into Career Connections, their automated recruitment management system and resume referral service. USF alumni have free access to the service for six months after graduation.

“You can’t let yourself get discouraged by the current economic situation,” Howard said. “Focus is the key, and networking your opportunities is essential. Graduates this year might want to look into hidden job market possibilities or perhaps become more global in their exploration. We can help them with that.”

  • Contact Mike Kerriganat