Class of 2008 Faces Trials and Tribulations
Six months after packing up their belongings to tackle the job market, college graduates of the class of 2008 have found themselves feeling the effects of a sagging economy. Instead of moving into the real world, many recent college graduates have moved back home with their parents after their initial attempts to find work were successful. Most are working in low-paying retail or service jobs while they search for a position that relates to their major.
“I’ve applied to literally hundreds of jobs at this point and have had over a dozen face-to-face interviews,” said Chioke Barkari, who graduated with degrees in German and Women’s and Gender Studies from Ohio Wesleyan University. “Nothing has come through. It’s kind of scary how a B.A. doesn't mean anything anymore.”
With the US economy sliding deeper into recession, over 1.5 million college graduates are expected to have a harder time finding work this year than in previous years. With daunting questions about how the economy will rebound in the months to come, the growth rate in the job market is at its lowest in five years.
“Between what’s going on in the housing market, and with the gas prices, and everything increasing, I think companies are just being more cautious because they’re not sure what is going to happen,” said Andrea Koncz, an employment information manager at the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). This cautiousness is not only limited to large corporations. Small businesses are cutting back on workers as well, forcing many recent college graduates to pursue freelance work or take on several part-time jobs. “I have two different part-time jobs right now, and it took me a long time to even get those,” said Rika Fujiwara, who graduated with an economics degree from Boston University. “I was applying to things that I was completely overqualified for, like part-time typist or fact checking positions, and not even getting a callback. The receptionist position that I applied for at a local art store received over 150 resumes in two days.”
Despite the rush for jobs amongst college graduates, others see some positives in the current job market. NACE recently reported that entry level positions in the utility industry rose 49 percent, while jobs for graduates in the government sector rose 33 percent. “There’s definitely still some positive news for college graduates,” said Tanya Flynn, a career adviser at careerbuilder.com. “I think they just need to put in a little more effort in communicating with employers.”
Caren Zucker, a producer at ABC News, advises graduates to send out individualized resumes and cover letters for every job that they apply for.
“We can tell when a cover letter is tailored for a position here with us, or when it’s the same letter that was sent out to 20 other employers,” said Zucker. “Individualized resumes and cover letters show that you care enough about the position to show why you're qualified to work for them specifically.” While the economy may be slow at the moment, Barkari said she is confident that things will work out in the future.
“I know that it won't remain this way for the rest of my life,” said Barkari. “Everybody says that your first year out of college is the toughest one. I'm just riding out the storm now and looking forward to putting my talents to use in the future.”#
McCarton Ackerman, a staff reporter at Education Update, is a 2008 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University.