Well, you’ve graduated from college. Congratulations! Now what?
Unless you’re off to graduate school, it’s time to get a job. And according to a career expert at Washington University in St. Louis, you’ll probably have a much easier time finding one than students did in the past few years.
Mark W. Smith, assistant vice chancellor and director of The Career Center at Washington University, says that overall hiring of college graduates is on the rise. “It’s a good time to be graduating,” he says.
Sixty-one percent of employers responding to a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey said they expect to hire more college graduates in 2004-05 than they did in 2003-04.
Hiring in the Midwest is projected to have the largest increase — 15 percent over 2003-04 levels. Jobs for recent graduates are also on the rise in the Northeast and West.
“I think the economy is getting stronger and there is a better confidence level in the economy,” Smith says. “Particularly with entry-level hiring, when the economy slows, companies would rather not hire a new employee than be forced to let a current employee go. People are also cautious after an economic decline and sometimes there can be a lag time before the hiring really starts picking up. I think there is more of a confidence level now.”
While there are more jobs available, salaries have remained steady for entry-level positions. However, Smith says, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Sometimes when there are large increases in salary expectations, companies cut back on their hiring, especially entry-level hiring. I’d rather see salaries stable and have more jobs available.”
While the Internet job explosion of the 1990s may have come and gone, Smith thinks the health care industry will continue to be the next big thing. “It’s no secret that the baby boom generation is getting older. They will continue to need health care. Also, as older people are staying active longer, there is an increased need for medications and medical devices, as well as managers and health consultants, that can help that growing industry.”
Smith says other popular career choices for recent grads include politics, public policy, consulting, law, communications, specialty retail and independent education.
“Politics, law, consulting, public policy and communications have long been popular majors,” Smith says. “College campuses have traditionally been hotbeds of political awareness and activism, which leads to an interest in those fields. Also, in the case of Washington University, hosting the presidential debate in October did much to bolster interest in political careers on campus.”
As the nation’s economy continues to rebound, Smith says traditional specialty retail stores will continue to hire and are looking for talented individuals to fill management positions. “The demand for those jobs will remain high,” he adds.