Will college graduates be able to get their foot in the door?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 4, 2009

NATCHEZ — With companies slimming down payrolls and a record number of layoffs and hiring freezes in place at other businesses, the job options for college graduates aren’t as plentiful as they once were.

There is a dwindling number of jobs available for recent college graduates and local students approaching graduation are beginning to worry about their place in the workforce.

College junior political science major Hannah Loy, said with her aspirations to work in politics, her jobs options are already limited.

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“Because I plan to go in to politics, the job market is always unclear,” Loy said. “The job market depends on the party that is in power.”

Loy, a student at Ole Miss, plans to work as a legislative aid in Washington, D.C., after graduation. And knowing jobs in the nation’s capital are already hard to come by, she has been working hard to prepare herself for the job hunt.

“I did an internship during the presidential debate at Ole Miss and when I was in high school, I was a page for Gov. (Hayley) Barbour,” Loy said. “I’m also really involved in student government and I hope those things are helping me.”

In contrast to Loy’s job speculation, Beth Cavin, feels confident that her pre-nursing course of study will lead to a job soon after graduation.

Cavin said she is currently doing her basic course study at Co-Lin Natchez and has considered changing her major from pre-nursing to radiology.

“As long as I stay with something in the medical field, I don’t think I will have trouble finding a job,” Cavin said. “But if I do something else, it might be a problem.”

Loy who has over a year before she graduates, said the job market and economic issues are a hot topic among her friends and at Ole Miss in general. Loy said a popular conversation at Ole Miss is the feasibility of attending graduate school. Loy said her professors are now saying that students receiving higher level degrees are not necessarily more likely receive job offers.

“Is it worth taking out the loans and spending the money to go to graduate school,” Loy said. “Or should we just go out and try to find a job right after school?”

Alex Allain, who will graduate from Millsaps College in May, doesn’t have to face any of those questions, at least not right away.

When Allain first enrolled at Millsaps, he was an English major but the change to religious studies has opened new doors for him.

The religious studies major has already applied for work with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp. The group does social justice work in metropolitan areas.

He is committed to that for a year, but he has already started making plans for the future.

“I will start applying for graduate school or seminary,” he said.

But Allain’s laid back personality is helping him to stay calm about his future.

“Just in general, I don’t really worry that much,” he said. “A lot of the liberal arts majors are beginning to worry though.”

While Allain is on his way out of college, Joanna David is just getting started. The freshman at Ole Miss has completed only one semester on campus, but she is already looking to the future.

And though she is just one semester in, David’s college career had already been active. When enrolling, she began as a civil engineering major but has since changed majors.

“I changed to marketing and communications because I civil engineer just wasn’t for me,” David said. “But when I started looking at what kind of jobs were available, there weren’t that many.

“So I’m now in general engineering with an emphasis in pre-dentistry.”

David said she hopes to parlay her studies into a career in mission work but her currently course of study is one that she is excited about.

“Health ministry is just such a rewarding thing,” she said. “I really noticed that I have a big passion for it and feel that is my purpose.”

And though she has over three year left in college, she said she is no immune to the talk to the economy and job searches.

“In two of my classes this semester we talked a lot about the economic crisis and what would happen if we got out of school and couldn’t find a job,” she said. “That has really influenced me a lot.”

With a year and half of college already under his belt, Parker Jones is keeping his options open as far as employment goes.

Jones will graduate from Mississippi State in 2011.

Jones said during his courses at Mississippi State he has developed an interest in ergonomics.

The sophomore industrial engineering major at Mississippi State University said he has is exploring a couple of things as far as his future after graduation.

“I really like working with different systems to make the run more efficiently,” he said.

“I want to take my degree and start my own business within that field,” Jones said.

But if that doesn’t work out, Jones has other options as well.

“I don’t see any reason why graudate school wouldn’t be an option as well,” he said.

No matter what stage in college a student is at, the biggest factor in securing employment after graduation is having a solid plan to focus on.

Loy said she things staying focused on her goals will help her resume stand out from others applying for the same position.

“I feel like I’m pretty in tune with (the current situation) and I’ve been thinking about it a good bit,” Loy said. “And I hope the things I’m doing now will set me apart.”