The Post-Tribune interviewed and came in to photograph Mackenna. Unfortunely they got a photos of me too and I look like crap. Had I realized I would be in the photos I would have dressed up a little nicer and did my hair. Oh well! Be sure to read the article below.
New graduates use creativity, wait for jobs
June 15, 2009
Valparaiso University graduate Mackenna Schon and Christina Page, event planner at Christina’s Creative Planning go over wedding photos at the Merrillville-based business. Schon is interning at the business. (Leslie Adkins/Post-Tribune)
A college degree might take you far — but the first step on that journey is a tough one for graduates this year. “It’s not a good job market for ’09 grads at all,” Mackenna Schon, a May graduate of Valparaiso University in public relations, said.
“In fact, it’s horrible. I know some people, maybe one or two, who got full-time jobs at PR agencies. But most are either living back at home with their parents or working at a restaurant or in fast-food — doing anything they can to make ends meet.”
Schon is doing just that, working an internship and sales job for a Merrillville event planner, plus a part-time job at J.C. Penney.
The number of people using the career center at Indiana University Northwest see the trend. For 2008, the IUN career center logged about 300 people using its services, said Sharese Dudley, IUN’s director of career services. From January of this year through May, more than 500 have already sought help.
“We have had some who have come to our office and said they’re not finding any employment and they’re going back to school and working for their master’s degree or some other higher level of education,” Dudley said. “Some are taking part-time jobs, and others decided to take a job in retail to help compensate for money they’ve lost. But most are still applying for jobs, trying to get a full-time salaried position.”
Schon lives with her boyfriend, who has a full-time job in insurance. She said he graduated a year before her and needed two years of intern work there to procure it. They share expenses and live in a Valparaiso apartment. To her, that’s better than the alternative of moving home to Gurnee, Ill.
“A lot of people I know had all this independence at college and now they’re living at home again,” she said.
Like many college grads, Schon also will have student loan bills due in a few months. Her balance isn’t nearly as high as some VU grads, she said, but the amount she owes is still unsettling.
Schon, though, is one of the lucky ones. She also was proactive in her search for jobs and internships. Rather than going on spring break, she stayed home and started her search. The day after VU’s graduation, she started working at J.C. Penney. And after deciding an internship in South Bend wasn’t for her, she hooked up with Christina’s Creative Planning.
From the start, Schon has worked on building a network of contacts — which helped turn up job leads. She also worked the phones to get interviews.
“It is a tough job market, but it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost,” said Shelly Robinson, Purdue University Calumet’s career services director. “It just means that students have to be more creative with their job searches. They need to start tailoring their resumes to meet certain job skills, doing more networking and other things they may not have had to do in the past.”
That’s the advice she gave to recent PUC grad DeLoris Clay, who earned a degree in business management with a concentration in human resources. Clay, who’s in her mid-40s and lives in Harvey, Ill., returned to school just before she was laid off. She had been an administrative assistant and executive coordinator for a large Chicago accounting firm.
She’s had some interviews and has even declined an offer. One of the places Clay interviewed wanted to hire her but couldn’t afford to bring her on full-time. That’s how she started working as an independent contractor.
“My advice is just to never stop doing something,” Clay said. “Keep doing something productive in whatever it is you want to do. Even if you take something not in your line of expertise or where you want to be, you may get to a company and that opportunity may open up. You never know.”
Another tip is to widen the net, said Tom Kass, director of VU’s career center.
“What (graduating) students need to do is look more broadly and consider other options they maybe hadn’t before,” Kass said. “Consider other locations, for example. Students also need to be persistent, do a lot of networking and not get discouraged. Easier said than done, I realize, but it’s not easy.”
He said that most recent college grads can bank on a job search lasting “at least” three to five months from the time they start looking. And while continuing their education to “wait out” the job market might seem like a viable option, Kass said there are some precautions to consider.
“Don’t do it just to do it, or to avoid looking for work to wait things out — particularly if you don’t know what you want to do,” he said. “It will probably take a couple of years, and you could spend more money and really not have any more direction in what you want to do.”
For many, he said, it’s best to just test the market. Some fields — such as engineering, computers and health care — are hiring more than others. There’s also the internship route — paid or unpaid. That might be a bitter pill to swallow, but in this job market it’s a reality.
“You graduate with these big, rose-colored glasses,” Schon said. “You’ve got a degree, you’ve worked on an internship or two, you’re familiar with all the social media and new technology and you’re ready to get out there and get going. But then, when you do, there’s nothing but an unpaid internship. You just have to do what you can with it and see what happens.”
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