Graduating Seniors Face Changing Market, Increased Opportunities

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February 1, 2007

5:23 PM

p. Graduating seniors of the Class of 2007 may not have finalized their post-commencement plans, but regional and national employers are eager to hire. According to The Wall Street Journal’s CollegeJournal.com, the Class of 2007 may enter the best job market since those of 2000 and 2001.

p. “Nationally, some reports are as high as a 17 percent increase in job offers for seniors. It’s a pretty good market overall,” Career Center Director Mary Schilling said.

p. The immediate region has an especially strong demand in the fields of investment banking and finance, accounting, and certain sectors of teaching, such as mathematics, sciences, foreign languages and special education, Schilling said.

p. According to Heather Angerer, a representative for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., consulting is another industry with a high demand for graduating seniors. “Consulting is a very high-profile job right now, especially in [Washington, D.C.]. It’s very much in high demand.”

p. “Consulting is basically problem-solving,” Angerer said. “A client comes to us because they have a problem, and we advise them on how to fix it and assist with implementation. For students who are good with coding, they can come and develop those skills and still get out in front of a client — it’s pretty much the best of both worlds,” she added.

p. The financial sector was also well represented at the fair, especially accounting and investment services. “We’re looking for talent,” Legg-Mason representative Izabela Holmes said. “Legg-Mason is looking to put the right person in the right job — what they are best at — and design a job around them.”

p. Beyond Williamsburg, government and financial services hiring appears strong. According to Department of State Representative Robyn Hinson-Jones, the Department alone hires about four hundred new employees per year.

p. Employers at Wednesday’s Career Fair at the University Center stressed the availability of jobs in their sectors for both traditional and non-traditional majors.

p. “We’re not looking for any one major,” Hinson-Jones said. “We’re looking for well-rounded people with good judgment who can think on their feet, who are creative.”

p. According to a Department of State pamphlet available at the fair, the department has openings for people with degrees ranging from international relations and history to mathematics and journalism.

p. Some employers at the fair noted the changing needs in their fields, while others pointed to the long-term stability of their employees’ career tracks.

p. “If an applicant comes in [able to speak] Farsi, Chinese, or Arabic, critical needs languages that are difficult to learn but crucial to our foreign policy, we are really, really in need of people who speak those languages,” Hinson-Jones said. “Of course, that changes; 10 years ago, maybe Russian.”

p. “I think what we’re doing right now is very strong,” Angerer said of consulting. “Anything dealing with the greatest and the latest — it always has been a robust field to get into.”

p. Meanwhile, Legg-Mason’s Holmes pointed to the high demand in her industry. “If I were a student,” she said, “I’d shoot for accounting and internal audit because these guys are always in demand and they’ll always have a job.”

p. In addition to changing needs at various companies, many of the presenters noted that the interview process is changing with new technologies. “Everyone who expresses interest in Booz-Allen has to go through our website first,” said Angerer, noting that this was a recent development.

p. While many companies have been transitioning to “paperless,” or all-online, applications, other industries use the Internet to actively seek potential employees.

p. “We use high-tech to identify people who may be interested,” Hinson-Jones said. “Things like Jobster, Facebook, we use that.” Financial services firm Ernst and Young maintains a group on Facebook advertising itself and its corporate environment to potential employees.

p. While the internet has gained importance in the job-search process, Hinson-Jones described the recruitment process as a combination of technology and personal contact.

p. “Employers are realizing that to get the best in the business, the more face time, the more they can interact with a student on the campus, the more likely they’ll make a good decision,” Schilling said.

p. Another change in the recruitment process is the growing importance of internships for undergraduates. “We’re looking for mostly accountants and internal audit professionals, maybe someone who has done an internship in the accounting or financial sector,” Holmes said.

p. “We want the candidate to have a taste of what the job will be so there’s no disappointment,” she added. “We want management to know this candidate and where they will be [best-suited].”

p. For students still undecided on post-graduation plans, the Career Center offers a range of services, including resume reviews, consultations, help in finding internships, and a variety of career fairs.

p. According to Schilling, the Center is co-sponsoring the Georgetown Non-Profit and Government Career EXPO Feb. 22 and will be running a bus from campus. “We’re also doing an Education Recruiting Day with representatives from schools across the region,” she added.

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