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Career Center director says job outlook positive

State economic climate, A&M reputation strong attributes for grads

The Battalion

Published: Monday, May 7, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 23:07

Graduating seniors are often forced to make a decision: apply for graduate school or gain work experience by through employment. Fortunately for Aggies, administrators say Texas A&M graduates have an advantage in the job market.

“The thought of graduating didn’t really set in until my last day of finals,” said Landon Dickeson, senior psychology major. “People kept asking me how I felt, and then today it just kind of hit me — I’m done with college. I’m a college graduate.” 

Dickeson said he doesn’t have concerns about finding a job after graduation. He said it would be easy to find a “blue-collar” job in his career field, until he decides whether to further his education in graduate school or finds the “right” job.

“I want to work for child protective services and a lot of people don’t want to do that,” Dickeson said. “I’m pretty sure I will get a job pretty easily, so the availability is there.”

Leigh Turner, executive director of the Career Center, said while national media may paint a bleak picture of opportunities for college grads, A&M students have much to be optimistic about.

The Career Center reported that last year’s demand for Aggie talent has continued, and exceeded last year’s demand. Recruiting activity from the 2010-2011 academic year to the 2011-2012 academic year increased 20 percent in job postings and 10 percent in active recruiting companies.

Turner cites two major contributing factors to the increase in employers’ interest in students graduating from A&M: the increasing national reputation of Texas A&M as a source of premium college talent and the relatively good economy for Texas compared to other regions of the country.

Texas A&M was ranked as the second most preferred source of prospective hires in a national survey of college recruiters by the Wall Street Journal, and Turner said this recognition has helped drive the demand for Aggies in the work world. And The Associated Press recently reported that compared to other regions of the U.S. “the southern U.S., anchored by Texas, was most likely to have young college graduates employed in higher skill jobs.”

“This means that new graduates in Texas are employed in higher-paying and more professional positions, relative to graduates of other states and regions,” Turner said.

Turner said employers continue to have a strong preference in hiring students with relevant work experience.

Dickeson said he feels that his undergraduate education has properly set him up for success, but that work experience will teach him more.

“The true education that will breed success will come from the job in real-world experience,” Dickeson said. “The book knowledge is there, but the real-world experience will come from working with people and seeing the look in their eyes — that’s where real learning happens.”

Once he can add career-relevant work experience to his résumé, Dickeson said he will consider graduate schools to earn a masters degree in counseling. His mentor, a professor at A&M, advised him to gain work experience before attending graduate school.

“My mentor said the time he spent working helped him realize he wanted to go back and get more education,” Dickeson said. “[He] showed me that you don’t have to go straight into graduate school. I think a lot of people go to graduate school because that’s the path they think they have to follow.”

Andrew Ferguson, career coordinator for Graduate Studies at the Career Center, said the number of applicants to graduate schools across the country has increased, but enrollment has not, as most programs cap the number of students admitted per year.

Consequently, competition to get into graduate school is greater than ever, while enrollment numbers remain relatively consistent, Ferguson said.

“It is not a matter of one ‘choosing’ a graduate school but rather making it through a rigorous admissions process and subsequently being selected by an admissions committee to attend,” Ferguson said. “Graduate school is not an open door through which aimless drifters wander due to lack of more appealing options.”

According to Turner, the key for success in finding a job is for students to understand what they want to do and focus their job search accordingly, taking advantage of resources such as the Career Center and Aggie network.

“[Career Center] advisors have both work experience and education in the majors they serve and can give students in-depth information about their career options and work closely with them to plan their job searches,” Turner said.

For students who are nearing graduation, Turner said the Career Center is a good place to start finding opportunities for work experience related to their major and career interests.

“Scheduling an appointment with a Career Coordinator is a great place to start and they can help students to begin to build their experience through externships, internships, co-op and even part-time jobs,” Turner said.

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