Students seek jobs as job market gains momentum

As Trinity seniors prepare for graduation next month, the country’s economy continues to rebound, and employers continue to add thousands of jobs in anticipation of  economic recovery. Texas in particular has high labor participation rates, as the state added 80,600 jobs last month in the largest single month jobs increase of any state since 1982, according to the Labor Department.

According to Brian Hirsch, director of Career Services, Trinity students are well positioned to find employment in the post-Great Recession economy, especially because companies are hiring from campuses at an increased rate.

“The projections that we had at the beginning of the year is that recruiters would be recruiting college graduates at least at the rate they were the previous year,” Hirsch said. “That’s held to this point.”

Hirsch believes that this trend is especially relevant for science, technology, engineering and math majors.

“It turns out that the demand for STEM majors is very high. And so if you just sort of base [job market conditions] on demand, then the job market for them is very good,” Hirsch said.

Some students, such as Raza Faizi, a senior majoring in marketing and finance, have already experienced the demand for STEM majors firsthand.

“Presently I’m interning at Rackspace, which I am hoping to turn into a full time job,” Faizi said.

However, despite the high demand for STEM majors, other majors in the humanities and social sciences also have good chances for job placement.

“There are a lot of jobs that humanities and social science majors could qualify for, but recruiters don’t necessarily recruit for,” Hirsch said. “So you might have a history major who is more than qualified to do a marketing job, but the employer won’t advertise for history majors. But if the history major applies, they might get interviewed because they have the qualifications.”

Hirsch also notes that Trinity students do better than the national cohort in terms of job placement rates.

“At the time of graduation nationally last year, about 25 percent of the students who wanted to be employed had a job. For Trinity students it was actually closer to 45 percent,” Hirsch said.

To the benefit of college students nationwide, the country is continuing its economic recovery. According to the Labor Department, Texas unemployment increased a percentage point in February to 6.4 percent, which is still well below the national average of 7.7 percent.

“Texas has one of the best job markets in the [United] States,” Faizi said.

Indeed, Texas has done particularly well in job creation; according to a study released in March by the Brookings Institute, six of the fourteen cities in the country that have employment levels higher than before the recession are in Texas: Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, McAllen and San Antonio. For these reason among others, many Trinity graduates have chosen to stay in Texas.

“Last year over 70 percent of Trinity graduates that went to work stayed in Texas,” Hirsch said.

San Antonio-New Braunfels has a combined unemployment rate of 6.6 percent, according to January data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to Hirsch, this trend of lower unemployment for Texas and its cities has persisted throughout recent years.

“All throughout the recession, the job market was better in Texas than just about any place else,” Hirsch said. “The state continued to create jobs when a lot of places were having net job losses, and that trend has basically continued.”

Of course, going into the job market is only one of the choices for expectant graduates. Another option is graduate school, according to Hirsch, who warns that graduate school should only be considered by people who really want to study with graduate professors.

“[Graduate education] is a viable option, but here’s the thing: I don’t think it’s a good idea to go to graduate school just to avoid the job market,” said Hirsch, adding: “I talk to faculty here and they all kind of say the same thing; “˜if you’re going to go to graduate school, go for the right reasons.'”

For students who choose to go into the job market, a key component to finding a job is networking, according to Hirsch.

“One thing that I really want to emphasize is the importance of networking,” Hirsch said. “You probably won’t get hired unless you network, because about 60 percent of all hires either come because you know somebody or you got to know somebody.”

He recommends three key resources for Trinity students to “tap into alumni.”

“One [resource] is part of our TigerJobs system, called Alumni Snapshots… these are kind of like online mentors in TigerJobs. There’s a Trinity alumni group in LinkedIn that has over 3,800 members,” Hirsch said. “The Career Network Chairs are a group of alumni located around the country whose role with the local alumni associations is to help with networking locally.”

According to Hirsch, students do not take advantage of alumni connections enough.

“Alumni actually complain to me that not enough students talk to them. They’re waiting for it, and I think a lot of time students are shy about reaching out,” Hirsch said.