With hiring season in full swing, students balance job search with academic responsibilities
Anne Adyniec was running through the airport with her computer open, trying to study for two exams she had the following day. After arriving back in Michigan near midnight from a job interview in Pennsylvania, she had exams at 8 a.m. and noon to cram for in the midst of picking up her bags and racing past the terminals.
“Interviewing, especially with the number I’ve had, is about like taking on eight extra credits,” Adyniec said.
A supply chain management senior, Adyniec has traveled as far as Florida and Chicago — driving back and forth three times from the Windy City — to interview for open positions.
It’s prime time for seniors to find the jobs they’ll start in the spring or summer, and this means finding a balance between schoolwork and hunting for a job. And the work students such as Adyniec are putting into their job searches is paying off, according to a recent study that suggests hiring is on the rise for this year’s graduates.
“It’s not red hot … but it’s much improved and we see some light,” MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute director Phil Gardner said.
Most companies that previously recruited on campus in both the fall and spring have condensed the visits into one fall trip, and MSU has seen an increase in the number of employers visiting this semester, MSU career services executive director Kelley Bishop said.
More than half of graduates in MSU’s class of 2009 had a job determined before graduation, he said. This makes for a busy fall for seniors.
Adyniec attended a fall career fair for engineering and business majors, yielding 15 initial interviews. Of those, she qualified for six second-round interviews, traveling to the companies’ facilities for daylong interviews with about five different employees at each location.
Luckily, Adyniec said, most of her professors were understanding if she had to miss class or exams during her job hunt.
Lynne Goldstein, an anthropology professor, said she’s happy to accommodate student absences for job interviews, as long as they don’t interfere with group presentations.
“I know the students need to start their careers and jobs and my job is to help them to the extent I can,” Goldstein said.
Hospitality business senior Jordan Howell also is no stranger to going an extra mile for job experience. Throughout his three and a half years at MSU, he’s completed a summer internship in Maui and two externships — weeklong work experiences during spring and winter breaks — at hotels in Chicago and New York City, only four blocks away from Times Square.
After he graduates in December, he’ll step into a position he accepted last week with the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s management development program in New York City, helping to oversee the hotel’s front office and more than 1,400 rooms as he rotates through different departments.
He credits the job, and the other two offers he got, to the prestige of the MSU hospitality business program and the mentors and jobs he’s had along the way, including an assistant manager of human resources position he currently holds at a Lansing hotel where he’s worked since his freshman year.
“The Waldorf has five or six alumni that work there already,” Howell said. “The quality that comes out of here is kind of unbelievable.”
But not all students are walking out of MSU with multiple job offers. Second-year criminal justice graduate student Scott Clark said he plans to move out of state for a job after he graduates in the spring. Compared to when he was a freshman, he has a substantially lower chance of getting a law enforcement job in state, he said.
“But in Wisconsin they’re booming,” Clark said. “It’s leaps and bounds better than (the outlook) in Michigan.”
According to the 2010-11 Recruiting Trends Report published by the MSU Collegiate Employment Research Institute, bachelor’s level hiring is expected to increase by 10 percent, with most of the positions coming from large companies and fast growth with small companies.
In the survey of 4,600 employers, the study found overall hiring is expected to increase by about 3 percent.
A Job Outlook 2011 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found even brighter results for college seniors, with employers expecting to hire 13.5 percent more graduates from the class of 2011 than they hired from the class of 2010.
Research director Edwin Koc said college recruits are an attractive set of employees, as they cost less than experienced recruits and come with very little “baggage.” People in their 40s and 50s who are unemployed typically are not being rehired right now, he said.
“Employers are more willing and more interested in filling up their pipelines for the future by hiring younger recruits,” Koc said.
The survey also found that employers are doing most of their hiring in the fall, following a pattern that began when the U.S. came out of a recession in 2004 and employers believed they would miss out on top candidates if they didn’t start recruiting early.
“When the market sluffed off as it did for the class of 2009 and 2010, we really didn’t have that strong fall recruiting,” Koc said. “This year, the expectation is for strong college recruiting.”
Although the studies have shown hopeful results for graduates, seniors who already haven’t started applying for jobs are a little late in the game, Bishop said.
“It’s a tougher challenge for the seniors if they weren’t engaged in the first go-around,” he said.
Many large companies also now aim to convert their interns into full-time hires and cut down on the amount of entry-level hiring, he said.
Luckily, Bishop said he expects the current hiring increase will continue for the next few years, citing a quiet optimism among employers about a forward-moving economy. Companies have been “lean and mean” for the past two years, producing at the same level while employing fewer people, but employees now are looking for new jobs and opportunities and companies are searching for their replacements.
With Christmas break approaching, Bishop recommends students network with employees at companies they’re interested in.
“It’s a full-time job to look for a job,” Bishop said.
As for Adyniec, she plans to confirm at the end of the week one of her three job offers for a position at IBM, True Value or Coyote Logistics. Though this semester has been her most tedious, she’s glad she got it out of the way.
“It’s going to be a huge relief once I find a company and don’t have to worry about it next semester,” Adyniec said.