Jousting for Jobs

Career 1While facing a still-recovering economy and looming college loans, members of the Saint Mary’s class of 2014 have risen to the occasion, impressing recruiters with their respectful communication skills—a direct result of the Saint Mary’s approach to liberal arts education. Make no mistake, the job market is still challenging for the 764 seniors who collected their diplomas May 24, said Patty Bishop, director of the Career Center, “It is still an uphill battle with barriers such as too many applicants and not enough jobs.” The jobless rate for college graduates ages 20 to 24 stood at 8 percent in 2013, compared to about 5 percent in 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But the Baby Boomer bubble is beginning to thin, making room for the next generation. “[Employers] especially need to fill the gap in the work force because Baby Boomers are retiring. There is a huge need for the type of talent that a liberal arts graduate can offer future employers and that is the ability to perform important work that workplaces desperately need, such as analytical skills, management of qualitative information, writing, public speaking, research and most importantly leadership potential. Saint Mary’s is in a strong position to fill this void in the marketplace.”

And numbers are on the upswing since 2013. Employers expect to hire 8.6 percent more new college graduates this year for their U.S. operations than they did last year, according to Job Outlook 2014 Spring Update, a new survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Employers ranging from the Peace Corps to PricewaterhouseCoopers find Saint Mary’s students personable, respectful, with solid values, and, most importantly, employable, Bishop said. And thanks to their liberal arts background, Saint Mary’s students are adaptable, have excellent communication skills and are trained to explore meaning (undoubtedly honed in four semesters of Seminar).

In fact, Bishop said, several Saint Mary’s alums who now work in sales have said that Seminar taught them how to sell an idea, a crucial skill in most any field. SMC grads have also proved to be flexible and willing to learn and take risks. A PricewaterhouseCoopers partner told Bishop about two young employees, one from Stanford and one from Saint Mary’s. When the Stanford grad was asked to do a task, he said it wasn’t in the best interests of his career path to do the project. When the SMC grad was asked to do the same job, he said he would do it right away.

Career2Saint Mary’s students—and all young job-seekers—have to be careful how they present and market themselves, Bishop said, and make sure not to sound too entitled. Also, because today’s college students do not have the same breadth of job experience by graduation as past generations did (the classic teenage jobs like delivering newspapers and serving fast food now mostly go to older workers), they need to learn their way around the workplace and learn how to work with multigenerations.

But if recent alums are any indication, our well-prepared Saint Mary’s grads are well-positioned to take home regular paychecks.