Thursday, May 7, 2009

A banner on the South Oval congratulates upcoming graduates. Commencement will be held Friday May 15. (Photo by Adam Greenlee)
Effects of the Job Market Hit Some Graduating Sooners.

As graduation nears, University of Oklahoma students are beginning to feel the impact of the vicious job market.

For the past year, seniors have focused their sights on graduation, but the looming job market continues to be on the side of their vision. While many students keep a sense of optimism, others show signs of worry.

The job market forced students like Letters Senior Stephen Rasbold to attend law school in order to wait out bad economic times. Rasbold graduates this year and says he understands how scary the market can be, especially for students in his major.

"There are jobs out there; however, they are going to be difficult to find for some students," Rasbold said. "Part of the reason I chose to go to law school is to wait out the market and hope it's stable in a few years."

The bad job market has even had an effect on internships for some majors.

Petroleum Engineer Major Ronald Tong said it has become more difficult to obtain an internship. Tong said that businesses now have much higher expectations in whom they give internships to.

"They're basically looking for round students with ridiculous grades," Tong said. "It's pretty much impossible for normal students to get these positions."

Tong said he believes he has one of the more competitive majors due to the fact it has the largest average salary offer than other disciplines. Tong said he applied for multiple internships, but instead chose to wait and take summer classes.

Some industries, however, have witnessed a growth in employment. Industries like marketing and accounting are experiencing positive employment forecasts
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown that education and health care industries are relatively immune to the current job market, and can be considered recession-proof.

Whitley Graham is an associate director at career services and helps students on campus with post-graduation opportunities. Graham says that internships and hiring are slightly down; however, students can still obtain jobs, regardless of their degree.

"Regardless of what your major is, there are job opportunities in whatever industry you want to get into," Graham said. "I wouldn't let students get discouraged about what their major is because in reality they can do anything they want with it."

Graham said that most students do not go into the exact field they major in, unless they are majoring in a technical degree.

One example Graham gave was a business major working in the health care industry.

Graham said that employers are looking for well-rounded students with vast amounts of experience in their field. Graham said that in this competitive job market a student must differentiate his or herself to employers by obtaining internships and becoming heavily involved on campus.

Architecture major Bryce McCarthy said the competitive market is nothing new for his major, but said he feels this year is much more difficult than previous years.

"It's very competitive to get into the architecture industry," McCarthy said. "I need a job after all of this hard work, but it sucks when I can't even get an internship to just get my foot in the door."

Even with the bad job market, some students like Rasbold still possess a sense of optimism.

"It's a hard market to get into for some students," Rasbold said. "But if a student is determined and works hard they can get what they want."

Career services is located on the third floor of the Oklahoma Memorial Union. Graham said that those who are looking for more information about career services or future job fairs may visit the official University of Oklahoma Career Services' Web site.

Commencement will be May 15 at the Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Click here to listen to McCarthy discuss his attempt at obtaining an internship as an architecture major...