Help available to job-hunting grads

Natalie Pillsbury

Whether a person chooses a major for practical reasons or for the love of a particular subject area, he or she is probably concerned about getting a job after college.

More importantly, many students wonder if they will earn enough to pay off their student loans.

“In my experience in Career Services, I’ve found that students aren’t realistic about what their starting salary will be after college,” said Julie Stieber, associate director of the Career Services Center.

Stieber said the center offers a career exploration course, and each semester it has a guest speaker come talk to students about creating resumes and getting started finding a job.

Students’ expectations of beginning salaries are usually wrong, Stieber said.

“Students estimate between $50, $60, even $70,000 as a starting salary,” she said. “It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility, but it’s not the average student.”

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2006 Fall Preview, service, manufacturing and government/nonprofit employment sectors report increases in college hiring for the coming year.

The employment sector that is expecting the largest increase in college hiring is the service sector, which includes such areas as public accounting, advertising and communications.

The association’s job outlook for 2006 also reports a 0.8 percent projected increase in the Midwest region in hiring expectations.

This is significantly lower than the other three regions, which report a 15.8 percent increase in the West, a 17.6 percent increase in the South and a 25.8 percent increase in the Northeast.

Mary Boston, supervisor of the Portage Workforce Connection, said there has been a lot more activity through her office recently.

The Portage Workforce Connection serves residents of Portage County and surrounding counties in finding employment.

“We serve a wide cross section of individuals,” Boston said. “We’ve helped people from age 14 to people with bachelor’s degrees.”

Boston said that her office usually sees 125 people daily.

There are computers available for Internet job searches and phones to make calls about jobs and other contacts.

Boston said there are also books, videos and DVDs available, which provide assistance with resume writing and interviewing.

There is an unemployment office at the Portage Workforce Connection where you can apply for unemployment benefits.

“It’s a great place for college students to start,” Boston said. “There are lots of different Web sites to look for work. You can participate in interview and resume writing workshops.”

The Portage Workforce Connection also offers assistance through the Workforce Investment Act, which will pay for the last year of a four-year college degree for participants.

The act will pay for two-year technical degrees in full, Boston said.

For more information, there are orientations every Monday at the Portage Workforce Connection Office at 1081 W. Main St. in Ravenna.

“We’re willing to help everyone who walks through our doors,” Boston said.

Stieber said the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook can be misleading because the companies participating in the survey were all Fortune 500 companies, meaning they were all large companies.

“There are a lot of productive small organizations that are not a household word,” Stieber said. “But they are good companies to work for.”

She said students have to be educated job seekers, and Career Services is available not only to help students through the job-finding process, but also to educate them on all the job options available.

“Students equate name recognition and size with prestige and salary,” Stieber said. “It’s not true, but I can understand why students think this way. That’s how we’re all raised.”

Stieber said Career Services is sponsoring a Career Expo on Wednesday, which will be located in the ballroom on the second floor of the Student Center.

There will be over 70 employers from areas such as retail, insurance and finance.

“Just talk to everybody,” Stieber said. “You’ll be surprised.”

She said that the job finding process has to be taken to a personal level. It depends upon what a student is willing to give up to get a high-paying job, Stieber said.

“It’s a process; it can be done and there are people to help,” Stieber said. “You get out of it what you put into it.”

Contact general assignment reporter Natalie Pillsbury at [email protected].