Starting early crucial for job search, Career Services employee says

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    With the May 10 graduation fast approaching, getting a job is on the minds of many outgoing seniors. Although it may be competitive for those getting ready to graduate, it could be even worse for December graduates, said a member of University Career Services.

    Kimshi Hickman, associate director of University Career Services, said this stems from the fact that many companies will have already set their budgets for hiring well before December.

    Hickman said an issue that makes the market competitive for both spring and winter graduates is how the projections of hiring have changed.

    At the beginning of the spring semester, overall hiring was expected to be up 15 percent, but now it’s only projected to be up by 8 percent, Hickman said.

    Mary Kathleen Baldwin, assistant director of marketing for Career Services, said the projections are a lot lower than what was expected last semester.

    Still, there are jobs available.

    Baldwin said national trends show the fastest-growing jobs on the market are in technology, computer analysis, data analysis, accounting, computer software engineering, sales and management.

    According to JobWeb.com, those positions were among some of the highest paying for 2006-2007 graduates. Among the 10 highest-paying jobs, sales was the least paying at $39,535, while software design and development was the highest paying at $54,392.

    Also on the list of high-paying jobs was accounting. Barry Bryan, director of the Master of Accounting program at TCU, said TCU’s students will be competitive.

    “One hundred percent of our graduating master’s class had offers before graduation,” said Bryan, who is also a professor of professional practice.

    Students who haven’t picked high-paying fields can do several things to make them more valuable to a company or employer, Baldwin said.

    Ty Codner, regional recruiting manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, said she looks for people who have experience beyond the classroom.

    Team sports, such as college basketball, football or even cheerleading count as job experience because so much goes into them, Codner said.

    Baldwin said being involved on campus and in groups is a good way to gain experience.

    She said students can highlight their on-campus involvement and other extracurricular activities as a way to entice employers. Baldwin also said motivation has a lot to do with it.

    “If they are happy in what they are doing, they will find ways to make themselves more valuable and thus earn higher pay,” Baldwin said.

    As for the job market for TCU students, Baldwin said, the feedback she has received from employers at career expos indicates sales seems to be a pretty big hiring industry, along with accounting and management.

    One of the key points Baldwin stressed was that students need to start preparing early for the job market because it is so competitive. She acknowledged it may be a little late for those students getting ready to graduate, but for others there is still time.

    One student who has prepared is graduating senior Andrew Wilson, an accounting major.

    Wilson said he began preparing for the job market his junior year. Currently, Wilson is employed by Lockheed Martin Corp., where he is a cost analyst and does work in auditing. During the summer, Wilson will be working in an accounting internship for Deloitte & Touche in Dallas.

    “I began interviewing for that internship the second semester of my junior year,” Wilson said.

    After his internship, Wilson will return to TCU for graduate school. He said this will give him an edge on the competition. Ultimately, though, he said he isn’t worried about getting a job afterward.

    Extracurricular activities and internships aren’t the only things employers look for. Another thing that attracts employers is soft skills, Baldwin said.

    “Soft skills refer to things that you can’t necessarily learn in a textbook or a classroom but are still important in any type of jobs these days,” Baldwin said. “Soft skills include things like leadership ability, communication skills, teamwork and all those things that are somewhat difficult to measure.”

    She also said writing skills are an additional draw for many employers.