Many students and recent graduates hope to secure a job with one of the 75 companies at Job Fair 2003 yesterday on the first three floors of the Michigan Union. But others who are more skeptical of the economy are finding creative ways of gaining experience as they attend graduate school.

John Becic
JEFF LEHNERT/Daily
Students network and gather information from potential employers at Job Fair 2003 held in the Michigan Union Ballroom yesterday. An increase from last year, 75 companies recruited students at the fair this year.

LSA senior Alison Haar, who is interested in pursuing a career in social work, said she plans on going to graduate school.

“I’m not anticipating getting a job,” she said. “The field of social work is not that lucrative.” Rather, she hopes to gain experience by working as a volunteer.

LSA senior Shyla Kinhal also plans on attending graduate school. Speaking of the job fair she said, “I was a little disappointed because it was more corporate-based … I was looking more for not-for-profit organizations.”

Kinhal, who wanted to go to law school long before the economic downturn, said she wants to make herself more marketable to law schools and increase her personal experience through non-profit work.

LSA senior James Haskins also said many of the types of companies he was looking for did not send recruiters to the fair. Haskins, a chemistry major, said few industrial or research companies sent recruiters to the fair. He said that Pfizer, which was present last year, did not come this year.

“I’m hoping, but with the job fair there weren’t a lot of companies for students who are scientists,” he said.

Haskins said due to stagnant job growth he is considering “pursuing multiple options at once” by also applying for graduate school.

Even though students like Kinhal and Haskins were disappointed with the variety of recruiters, more companies signed up to partake in the fair this year, said Lynne Sebille-White, assistant director of recruitment services at the University’s Career Center.

“We are starting to see some of the banking and financial institutions return,” she said.

Among the organizations that are showing up for the first time are NASA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and DaimlerChrysler AG’s financial division, she said.

Sebille-White said students are realistic, and are pursuing alternative options in addition to looking for work right out of college.

“It’s hard to tell at this time, but it’s looking optimistic,” she said.

But for students like recent LSA graduate Rich Gilbertson, the job market cannot open up fast enough. Although he graduated this spring, Gilbertson returned to the fair because he has yet to find an opening in the business sector. “It’s very tough right now. The economy is not in the upturn yet,” he said.

Gilbertson said few companies at the other job fairs he has attended are hiring at the moment. Yet he said he remains optimistic that recent signs of an economic recovery will lead to job growth.

“The stock market is going up, (companies) have more discretionary income to spend” on hiring new employees, he said.

Other students have placed their faith in the economy by deciding to put off graduate degrees to look for jobs this year. LSA senior Rita Minka said she eventually plans to attend law school, but recently decided she was not ready yet and would rather work first for a few years.

“I’m looking at anything,” she said. “I don’t even know what’s out there.”

Minka said she has heard mixed opinions about current job prospects.

“Some people are like ‘It’s no problem, the job market is looking up,’ ” she said. But other friends who have not yet received offers have told her that she needs to start looking right away to have any chance of finding a job, Minka said.

She added that a lot of students are looking for jobs in the sales sector of the business industry, but she said that even sales firms are seeking students who can point to additional qualifications besides a college degree.

“A lot of them want sales experience too, but if you’re coming right out of college it’s kind of hard” to have acquired experience, she said.

Sebille-White said comparing the current economic struggles to the situation a few years ago is like comparing apples to oranges because before 2001 the economy was experiencing unprecedented growth.

“Given that things are tougher now … there aren’t quite that many opportunities,” she said.

Some of the recruiters included Liberty Mutual, Comerica Bank, Deloitte Consulting, SBC Communications, Proctor and Gamble and the Central Intelligence Agency.

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