Career panel discusses post-grad economic outlook

Career week at the College continued last Wednesday with the “Economic Impact and The New Graduate” panel in the New Library auditorium. It discussed the career outlook for the class of 2009 and future graduating classes.

Students arrived at the discussion eager to learn how to curb the crumbling economy and find work after graduation. The panelists offered a mixture of comfort and harsh reality.

Martin Kohli, Regional Economist of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, initiated the discussion by relating current economic conditions to past instances of recession in the United States.

“There are basically two ways to look at the future. It’s either like the past or it isn’t,” Kohli said. Throughout his presentation, Kohli identified the continuous trends of job creation and elimination, delivering good news to nursing majors who, in November and December of 2008, were able to find the most jobs after graduation.

Education majors were also reassured by Kohli, who said jobs in state and local government were increasing primarily in education. Some occupations, as Kohli pointed out, are not faring well in the recession.

“The jobs that have really suffered are in construction and management and these are the jobs that do not typically require education,” Kohli said.

Ed Koc, Director in Strategic and Foundation Research at the National Association of Colleges and employers followed Kohli’s presentation with a slightly darker outlook on a college graduate’s prospects.

“For this year’s class, the employer has control. They have the job and you compete for the position. Your prospects are considerably lower than that of the last five classes,” Koc said.

Koc’s projections for the classes of 2009 and 2010 were bleak, saying that the predicted national unemployment rate for individuals with a bachelor’s degree will reach 3.7 percent in 2009. However, he sees a possibility for growth.

According to Koc, President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan will cause a growth in government jobs, which may provide students with unexpected opportunity.

“I see a real possibility that Washington will be where the action is, as opposed to Wall Street,” Koc said in an attempt to counter his pessimistic outlook and ease the audience’s anxiety.

The mood was lightened with the introduction of Dennis Jordan, Global Analyst and Recruiter at Bloomberg L.P. Jordan strayed from statistics and encouraged members of the audience to make themselves “marketable” and “set yourself apart” through internships, GPA, activities and leadership.

In his animated speech, Jordan acknowledged the status of the economy but urged students to remain active in pursuing their ambitions.

“Use your career center. Your career center is outstanding. They can prep you for the interview. Use them. The resume gets you in the door. The interview gets you the job,” he said.

The event concluded with a brief question-and-answer session. The three speakers warned the audience of the dangers of Facebook as an “excluder” in the interview process, often causing candidates to be eliminated due to the content of their profile page.

Jordan ended on a positive note.

“Be flexible. As the giants fall, Merrill Lynch, WaMu . be excited. There is going to be another great company,” he said.

Katie Brenzel can be reached at brenzel2@tcnj.edu.