CDC prepares seniors for a harsh economy

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By Haeryun Kang

Uncertain employment possibilities are worrying Mac seniors and graduates. Macalester’s Career Development Center (CDC) is responding to those fears by trying to connect seniors with recruiters, although it’s still early to predict the effect of the rollercoaster economy on job prospects.Denise Ward, Associate Dean of Student Services in Career Development, has been at Macalester for 21 years, and has experienced several economic upheavals while at the college.

“Mac students generally tend to do quite well in the job market, with a generally high level of satisfaction,” she said.

Ward pointed to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), an organization aimed at connecting college seniors with possible employers, as something that could be a good reflection of the job market. As of now, the NACE has not reduced the number of recruiters for college campuses, meaning that jobs at least appear to still be opening. However, Ward anticipates some cuts from NACE in the future.

“[It is] hard to say specifically how it will affect Mac students,” she said.

Although people applying for jobs this fall will probably not face too many hardships, “one must always prepare for contingencies,” Ward said. There have been instances in the past of job offers being withdrawn from seniors. Spring term, inevitably, will be tighter in terms of job opportunities.

“There is no way around [that],” Ward said.

International students face additional problems going into the job market because they often work under tighter federal regulations, laws that might be candidates for reform of the market takes a major downturn.

“Work visas and government regulations may be tightened,” Ward said. “But they were stingy to begin with.”

She emphasized that regardless of variations in external factors, one must “always stick to the basics.”

What will hold the students grounded amidst the confusion, Ward said, will be how solidly they prepare themselves for a career. According to the CDC’s “Job-hunting Words of Advice,” a handout available in the CDC office, this means utilizing resources within the Macalester community, practicing for interviews, cleaning up electronic footprints, watching the debt level, and networking.

“The most important strategy is networking,” Ward said.

She said that the CDC is planning to raise the number of networking opportunities and advertise existing ones, including the Alumni Career Night. It will also rent job search support groups and do outreach to academic departments, which will then advertise those jobs to the seniors.

If the current employment situation worsens, Ward said that the CDC will consider extending networking events and extensive career consultations to juniors, giving them a head start.