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MSU study finds job market on the rise for students

November 18, 2010

Lauren Kotlarczyk is planning to spend her Christmas break perusing marketing and communication company websites for job openings. With the way the market is looking, the professional writing senior said she plans to take any job she can get.

“One of my roommates has been applying for jobs for a couple months now and hasn’t heard back from any of them yet,” Kotlarczyk said.

Although Kotlarczyk and her roommate are nervous about finding a job, a 2010-11 study by MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute recently found the future for college graduates might be looking a little brighter this year. After surveying about 4,600 employers, the institute found overall hiring is expected to increase 3 percent and bachelor’s-level and MBA-hiring is expected to rise by 10 percent.

“It’s better news — not perfect news — but we got more jobs than last year,” institute director Phil Gardner said. “There’s not enough to go around, but it’s a start.”

Gardner said large companies are feeling confident enough to hire again, while mid-size companies still are waiting to see a larger boost in the economy. Seniors need to apply for jobs as soon as possible if they hope to snag a job at one of their top companies, he said.

“There’s a cautionary tale in this,” he said. “These employers hired early and were on campus, identified their target hires and probably won’t be back in the spring.”

Many employers are willing to hire strong candidates, regardless of a student’s major, and there’s a chance the job market will improve even more next year, he added.

Kotlarczyk said she is an intern at the MSU Federal Credit Union to gain professional marketing experience. Learning how to use Adobe Photoshop and InDesign to create projects that will be distributed in the real world instead of as class projects has been rewarding, she said.

“Making things that are actually printed out that people will hold in their hands makes a big difference,” Kotlarcyzk said.

National data shows students who complete internships have an easier time in the job market than those who don’t and also earn higher salaries when they graduate, said Linda Gross, associate director of MSU’s Career Services Network. Overall, a graduate’s ability to communicate their skills to employers is more important than simply having a college degree, something that university students struggle with nationwide, she said.

“You have to talk about what you learned from any experience you’ve had, inside or outside the class,” Gross said. “If you can’t talk about what you learned from it, it doesn’t mean anything to an employer.”

Some students apply for jobs without even knowing what the employer does — a big mistake, Gross said. If students take advantage of networking with alumni and look to find employers and organizations they would enjoy working for, their job search likely is to improve, she said. Gross said MSU has seen a lot of activity from employers this fall.

“Postings by employers wanting to come to career fairs is up. Interviews are up on campus,” she said. “It’s not the best job market, but it’s definitely improved.”

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