Job outlook on the uptick for May graduates
While the job market remains challenging, University of South Carolina May graduates are finding a more hospitable market than last year at this time.
The university’s Career Center is seeing signs of improvement, which is encouraging news for newly minted graduates.
“Employers are following through with job offers this year,” said Tom Halasz, the center’s director. “We’ve turned a corner. Last year, employers were more cautious. This year, despite the number of on-campus interviews remaining the same and the number of companies attending career fairs being down, we’ve seen employers more active in the process, and the number of job offers is increasing.”
Preliminary surveys of students graduating from USC indicate that 26 percent have found employment, while 29 percent are actively searching. Twenty-five percent will be heading to graduate and professional schools, with another 10 percent waiting to hear from schools.
Halasz says the survey numbers don’t vary dramatically from previous years. Students have reported job offers from a range of employers, including Teach for America, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Eaton, SCANA, Deloitte, Bank of America, Northwest Mutual, Belk and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports hiring is up 5.3 percent nationally for the Class of 2010. The figure was included in its “Job Outlook 2010 Spring Update,” released April 15. The report highlighted accounting, engineering, retail/wholesale trade employers as topping the list of employers hiring.
Similar to many economic reports, NACE shows the Southeast experiencing a slower job recovery than some parts of the country.
“The Southeast was hit hard, but the region is recovering and will do better than most parts of the country in time,” Halasz said. He cites Boeing in Charleston, Proterra in Spartanburg and a wind turbine plant at the Charleston Naval Base as healthy indicators for South Carolina’s manufacturing sector and emerging energy industry.
Halasz says employer interest in internships and co-ops is another good sign because it suggests companies are planning for growth and wanting to cultivate a pool for future hiring.
“There is a greater level of optimism from employers,” Halasz said. “This is particularly evident with their levels of hiring for interns and co-op students.”
A new Community Internship Program (CIP) launched this spring by the Career Center is helping to fuel that optimism. The summer program, funded by a federal stimulus grant, enables South Carolina employers to hire students and be reimbursed for half the student’s wages.
Only a few of the 90 CIP slots remain. Organizations with available internships that run the gamut of disciplines include Blackbaud, Children’s Trust for SC, Colonial Life, Edventure, SC-ETV, Johnson Controls, Merrill Lynch, Pure Fishing and SC Bank & Trust.
Halasz reminds graduating seniors who are searching for jobs that they have full access to the Career Center’s resources for the next year, including job fairs, on-campus recruiting, job postings, resume writing and interviewing skill sessions, online and print resources and individual career counseling with staff.
Job experience is the most important factor in determining the success of a job search, Halasz says. That’s why he urges students to begin getting that experience early. The sophomore year is not too early for beginning internships, co-ops and job shadowing programs. Rising seniors should visit the Career Center at the start of the academic year to create their action plan for a job search.
“We’re expecting an increased presence of on-campus recruiting for full-time positions this fall, and students need to be ready,” Halasz said.