COVER STORY SIDEBAR
Career counselors, student service staff predict improved job market for 2011 grads
Ezra asked several career counselors, assistant deans and other administrators who work with students on career planning about their predictions for the job market for Cornell graduates in the coming year.
Christa Downey, assistant dean and director of career services, College of Arts and Sciences:
Class of 2010 graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences were more successful at finding jobs by the time they graduated than Class of 2009 graduates. We are seeing more opportunities open up for our students this year, and I predict next year will be even better.
In career services, we encourage all students to follow their passions, and we try to provide them with the tools to get started in the right direction. We encourage every student to participate in the FRESH and EXTERN programs, www.career.cornell.edu/externProgram/, to gain firsthand knowledge of specific fields.
Thomas O'Toole, executive director for professional development, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs:
Despite promising forecasts in public sector hiring in down economies, these opportunities become more competitive as graduates seek the security of federal employment. Further, the prospect of a new midterm Congress can dramatically shift federal priorities, which will subsequently affect hiring.
Students interested in landing a federal job by graduation should begin researching and, in some cases, applying for opportunities between six and nine months prior to graduation.
Though all federal jobs are posted on www.usajobs.gov, by far the best resource for students and alumni to explore when considering a federal career is the Partnership for Public Service's website at www.makingthedifference.org.
Mark Savage, director, Engineering Cooperative Education and Career Services, College of Engineering:
I expect to see the job market continue to slowly improve. I base that expectation in part on having five employers host gatherings at their sites this summer to show career advisers what they do – and most paid all expenses. Employers represented the financial services, energy services, electronics and chemicals industries, and all expected to increase hiring for the coming year (though we will not be on par with the strong job market that was in place prior to the economic downturn).
As employers struggle with how to pay for health care and with potentially higher taxes, that could put a damper on how quickly things recover. But overall, I predict that opportunities will increase [this coming] year by 10 to 20 percent, but employers will use a variety of means to connect with students – so we may see only minor gains in on-campus recruiting interview numbers.
Molly deRoos, associate director, career management, Office of Student Services, School of Hotel Administration:
In this economic downturn, School of Hotel Administration students have broadened their view of the types of opportunities they consider as a launch pad to their careers. Within hospitality, they are exploring segments that have traditionally been less in demand, but that offer great opportunities, such as senior living. Additionally, "Hotelies" have found that their degrees have prepared them well for opportunities outside hospitality in business and education – for example, General Electric and Teach For America. We are still collecting information, but we can already see that the Class of 2010 fared better in the job market than the previous year. I'm optimistic that we will continue to see an upswing in opportunities for the Class of 2011.
Regina Duffey Moravek, director, Office of Career Services, ILR School:
Employers in contact with us are anticipating a moderate recovery and increases in hiring in the coming year. However, I believe that students will continue to consider multiple strategies in their job pursuits and will continue to pursue sectors they may not have considered previously, such as the government sector, which will continue to have jobs.
I also believe students will continue to give due consideration to gap year experiences that will enable them to pursue interests as they further decide their career focus and availability of job prospects within that focus. But it's a delicate balance between freedom to pursue interests in an uncertain economy where career paths aren't as defined as they may have been, and the ability to still support yourself economically. For some students, one may trump the other, and opportunities and interests may not entwine as they would prefer.
Brenda Wickes, assistant dean for student life, Graduate School:
My prediction, based on a multitude of op-eds in the popular press and the Chronicle of Higher Education, would be that greater numbers of our Ph.D. and master's degree recipients will look to careers outside academia, in business, industry and not-for-profit sectors.