New Temple University graduate Lauren Archut, still clad in her cap and gown and carrying a congratulatory bouquet, had one last stop to make before a celebratory dinner: the school’s career center.
Archut, 24, was one of a handful of students to take advantage of the center’s job search open house on Thursday, just hours after several commencement speakers talked of the poor economy and difficult employment market for the Class of 2009.
“I’ve been meaning to come all semester, but I’ve been way too busy,” said Archut, of suburban Bensalem. “I feel a little bit lost. I’ve been so focused on school stuff.”
Job fairs are common on college campuses, but holding one on graduation day was a bit of a leap of faith, said Rachel Brown, director of the career center at Temple, a public research university with about 34,000 students. Especially in this economy, she said, it’s important to show support for the newest alumni.
A survey released earlier this month by the Pennsylvania-based National Association of Colleges and Employers showed just 19.7 percent of 2009 graduates who applied for jobs actually had them. Two years ago, that figure was 51 percent, the survey said. Temple’s own estimates for this year’s class mirror the survey findings of about 20 percent, Brown said.
Archut, her family in tow, picked up a portfolio of job search strategies and briefly spoke to employment counselors before deciding to return next week. The chemistry major wants to learn how to interview well and put together a resume and cover letter; she eventually wants to work for a large cosmetics company and start her own line of hair care products.
Neil Dubin, of suburban Upper Dublin, stopped by with his father to pick up a portfolio but didn’t have time for counseling he was in between ceremonies, going from the main university convocation to his individual college event.
“I know the economy is bad,” said Dubin, 24, adding he’s “just trying to get any information I can.”
He’s thinking about government work, which is one of the fields in which Brown said she sees opportunities. President Barack Obama has restored some faith in the system, she said, so public-sector employers should be strong.
She also sees good prospects in education, health care and smaller, entrepreneurial companies.
Brown had no idea when she planned the open house whether graduates would show up. But she said it was important for the career center to practice what it preaches: “Think outside of the box. Put yourself out there.”
“We’re putting our money where our mouth is,” Brown said. “We’re giving it a shot. … I think the intention behind it and the goodwill behind it hopefully will not be lost.”
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