Graduating seniors to face job uncertainty

    With commencement exercises a little over a week away, graduating seniors will be entering a job market marked by fewer job prospects and decreased salaries than those enjoyed by graduates just a few years ago, according to the Career Services Center.

    Tyler Huff

    “”It’s a tough economy, but there are jobs out there in many fields,”” said Craig Schmidt, assistant director of the Career Development Program. “”But it’s very competitive, and students need to understand that it’s competitive.””

    The job market has been described as being in the worst slump in 20 years.

    Over the past year, the Career Services Center witnessed decreases in on-campus interviewing as well as a five percent decrease in the number of employers participating in job fairs and a 15 percent decrease in the number of full-time job listings.

    For Julia Houck-Whitaker, who graduated from Revelle College after Winter 2003, both the economy and a fruitless job search has forced this cognitive science major to declare the unexpected — retirement.

    “”I’ve been forced into retirement by the job market,”” she said.

    Houck-Whitaker said that since graduating in March, she has applied to numerous jobs in fields ranging from finance to Web development.

    “”It’s a tough job market, I’ve learned over the past year,”” she said.

    Average starting incomes are slightly less than those offered to graduates last year, although Schmidt noted that this year’s preliminary numbers reflect incomes offered to students who actively sought jobs early on, including a computer science student who will be starting at QUALCOMM for $60,000 a year, and another engineering student who will be earning $57,000 as a software engineer.

    Octaviano Rios, a Thurgood Marshall College senior, is looking for a management or administrative job for local government in Los Angeles. Despite having three years working experience in government, the political science major said that his job choices are limited by the economy.

    “”I see differences in opportunities — just lower, lower opportunities in the public sector,”” Rios said. “”That’s just based on the career.””

    Although he used resources at the Career Services Center, he said the job offerings seem mainly limited to San Diego.

    “”If I want to pursue other opportunities outside of [San Diego], I’d have to do that on my own,”” Rios said. “”But I’m still trying, so I’m going to go back and see what they can help me with.””

    For those seniors who applied and were accepted to graduate and professional schools, prospects immediately following graduation look brighter. Programs in law, business and teacher education have become increasingly popular since last year, Schmidt said.

    Christine Mahfouz, a Revelle College senior, is enrolling in an urban planning and law dual-degree program at UCLA. She said although she planned on postbaccalaureate study, she attempted to brave the job market.

    “”My original intent was to get into grad school or law school, but I was worried that I wouldn’t get in,”” she said. “”I started trying to find jobs and stuff, but I couldn’t find a job either, so thank God I got in.””

    Schmidt said that in contrast to two and three years ago when engineering students, lured by lucrative job prospects, rarely entered graduate programs, this year has witnessed an increased interest by engineering students in graduate programs in computer science and computer engineering.

    “”That’s just an indicator that we’re still not out of the woods as far as the economy goes,”” Schmidt said.

    The Career Services Center will be holding a Job Search Club program immediately after graduation for graduated seniors seeking more effective ways to present themselves to potential employers.

    Final numbers regarding average salaries as well as graduate and professional school attendance by graduating seniors will not be available by the Career Services Center until later this summer.

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