Survey reveals recession hard on grads

By Jami Peterson

The recession hit last year’s NIU graduates hard, an annual survey shows.

According to a recent survey by Placement Counselor Vickie Oliver, only 66 percent of last year’s NIU graduates with bachelor’s degrees now have full-time jobs, the lowest in nine years.

However, 93 percent of these graduates have remained in Illinois. “There are better prospects for students seeking employment in this area than in any other area,” Oliver said.

However, she said, partly because of the recession, the availability of jobs is the bleakest it has been in 20 years.

Each career has a different demand, and graduates should know the conditions in their field, she said. There is a high demand for majors in computer science, accounting and health fields, while the demand for elementary teachers is very flat, she added.

Gary Scott, director of Career Planning and Placement, said his office is available to hold any graduate’s hand on the road from diploma to employment.

“The visibility of jobs is not as great as it has been in previous years,” Scott said.

With this kind of economy, he said, it is important for graduates to develop some kind of strategy to become as visible to employers as they can.

Oliver said she encourages students to “get a head start” on their job search by taking advantage of her office’s services.

Computer Science major David Forster said he did 21 interviews through the Career Planning and Placement Center. Although he does not have a job lined up for when he graduates next fall, he is optimistic.

Forster said his advice to students would be to “do your own job search,” along with using the services provided. There is “great competition” for employment, he added.

Accounting major Heather Lynn Sorenson said she did nine interviews and will be employed full-time after she graduates in May. The job market has decreased and students should “get involved and make their contacts early,” she said.

Campus Recruiting Coordinator Jean Callary said the number of recruiters visiting NIU is down 50 percent.

Although opportunities seem bleak, students should not sit back and relax, she said. Graduates should attend career workshops where a “nice variety of employers can talk about a large variety of jobs.”

Trimming back the budget has hurt outreach efforts, and students should know the opportunities they have, she said.