Graduating College Students Eye Troubled Economy
New York City
18 May 2009
It's May, and at colleges and universities all across America, graduation season is in full swing.
When this spring's graduating seniors entered college, many were looking forward to lucrative careers in business and others fields in an economy that showed no signs of slowing down. But today, with the U.S. economy in deep recession, many of those students are having to rethink their career strategies and prospects in creative ways.
For Jamie Obletz and his classmates at , this is a time for concern.
|Jamie Obletz, who is graduating this month from Columbia University's Graduate School of Business, has been offered a job at an investment bank, but he sees many of his classmates struggling. He calls that situation "disheartening"|
"A lot of people graduating this weekend still don't have jobs, which is disheartening," says Obletz, "and you know they are qualified."
This is a direct result of the weakened economy, he believes, "where many companies, from Wall Street to Main Street, are no longer recruiting."
"It's not what we signed up for," he says.
Many of 2009's graduating students are taking their skills to the non-profit sector, and a larger-than-usual percentage of this year's MBAs are looking for government jobs. They tell Michael Malone, who directs the school's office of career education and advising, that they hope to make an impact on business and economic policy.
"It's been really fascinating to see the interest our students are having in becoming part of the solution, in fixing the system and addressing new problems," says Malone.
|Michael Malone, who directs the career office at Columbia's business school, says many of his advisees are finding alternative career paths in the non-profit sector, in government and as entrepreneurs|
Many business students who had planned on corporate or banking careers are becoming entrepreneurs instead.
"They've read all of the media pieces about how great companies were born of really down markets in the past, and they see themselves as potentially that next winner and are really eager and excited by that prospect," says Malone.
In contrast, Columbia MBA candidate Arlyn Davich always wanted to be an entrepreneur. She planned to start a luxury excursion business, but the recession inspired her to start a marketing firm that will distribute discount coupons online instead.
|Columbia MBA Arlyn Davich always wanted to become an entrepreneur. Here she pitches her business plan for a coupons service targeted at consumers looking for discounts - and businesses looking for new consumers|
"In the , they like to highlight [the idea] that somebody is going to benefit from the recession, and it's just a matter of positioning yourself," says Davich, "so I feel very optimistic, actually."
Changing economic conditions have inspired many other creative readjustments. First-generation immigrant Grilselys Nunez began her two-year stint at the , or BMCC, as a . She soon decided to switch to economics and politics.
"I want to be a leader in my country, the Dominican Republic," she says excitedly. "I think the whole world is changing right now, and it's just a perfect time to introduce different things to my country."
The recession led to a new career path for 48-year-old John Ortiz. He was a personal exercise trainer, but his client base dropped off due to the economic slowdown. So he enrolled in classes at BMCC and kept an open mind.
|John Ortiz was a personal exercise trainer, but when business fell away early in the recession, he enrolled at BMCC, where he found a new career path|
"While I was here, I found my love for writing, and I switched to writing and literature," he says.
Ortiz, who volunteers regularly with teenagers, is planning to take the psychology training necessary to become a high school counselor.
"I turned an obstacle into an opportunity," he says.
No one can deny that with a graduating class in the thousands, BMCC career development director Melba Olmeda-Amaro has her hands full. Despite the economy, she is encouraging students to enter the job market with a positive outlook. She tells them that a good attitude can be almost as important to potential employers as academic skills.
| Melba Olmeda-Amaro's passion for the students who come to her career development office at BMCC is palpable. She advises them to showcase the non-academic aspects of their personalities and talents to prospective employers|
"Employers are looking for interpersonal skills. They're looking for the ability to communicate. They are looking for students that show ambition," says Olmeda-Amaro.
She acknowledges that in previous years, graduating students would have had a "straighter" career path.
"So what we tell our students is, 'Practice, practice, practice! Prepare, prepare, prepare!'"
No one has to convince 50-year-old MaryAnn Lorick, a graduating BMCC business major who enrolled once her own daughters left to college.
|MaryAnn Lorick, who returned to school once her own daughters left home, is enthusiastic and ambitious about her prospects in the business world|
"For myself, there really is no fear," she says with a smile. "I'm out there, and I'm going do something."
Whatever the nation's economic prospects may be for the short term, one thing seems clear: Americans' energy and "can do" attitude will always remain an abundant national resource.
1. Graduating College Students Eye Troubled Economy
I hope it is the darkest moment before dawn. Just keep fighting with patient and you will be the fitest.
Submitted by: Alan Wang (Taiwan, Rebublic of China)
05-31-2009 - 07:23:08
2. It is a hard time to search for jobs for our graduating studengts
previous years ago, college students had a "straighter" career path . But right now it really
is a hard period to hunt for jobs for our graduating studengts.Many companies in China are no longer recruiting.In my opinion,the current economic state
is not optimistic.That's all.
Submitted by: Louis Liang (China)
05-30-2009 - 13:45:24
3. Can`t keep Americans down for long... :)
"Americans' energy and "can do" attitude will always remain an abundant national resource."
Truer words were never spoken. Americans have "been there n` done that" when it comes to full fledged recessions. They`ll come out even stronger on the flip side of this. No doubt in my mind. :)
Submitted by: James (Canada)
05-29-2009 - 21:20:53
The recession has already made lots of troubles in graduates' job-hunting. That is terrible.
Submitted by: Long (China)
05-23-2009 - 01:59:09
5. Graduating College Students Eye Troubled Economy
It's an good idea to wrigt about the people or students that get see a own future ever been in a big crise like that. After wrigt this article it looked like too simple, and all future depens on each one.
Submitted by: Alexandre (Brazil)
05-19-2009 - 14:25:08
The article is inspired not only for america but also for chinese people. But one thing may I mention is your text is not a exact copy of listening material, hoping improved. Thank a lot
Submitted by: philions hou (China)
05-19-2009 - 12:54:34