In today’s job market, determination can rapidly turn into
hopelessness, as some LSA seniors’ job searches have
resembled a never-ending uphill battle with no victory in
sight.

LSA senior Genevieve Marino got a jump on the job market by
scouting for consultancy positions last April. Yet even with the
extra time and a 3.8 grade point average, the tight job market only
turned up several weak job offers. Marino said she tells herself to
keep her head up, but she sometimes doubts whether her college
degree was worthwhile.

“There’ll be times when I’m writing a paper
and I’ll think to myself, ‘Why am I working so hard
writing this paper when no one cares about my GPA?’

For LSA senior Joseph Michalsen, a pre-med honors student, the
job market proved unforgiving for a long time since he had no luck
in locating a temporary job in the medical field. Michalsen said he
dreads the thought of seeing himself working at a dead-end job.

“I don’t really want to be working at some shit job
for the next year and half, with a degree from the U of M. I
didn’t work hard for four years to go into
nothingness,” he said.

In Marino and Michalsen’s cases, landing employment not
only seemed to be out of reach, but also out of their hands. Both
felt their persistence and college education so far has amounted to
nothing. Instead, the constant notices of rejection assailed their
confidence and optimism. Job searching became a punishing effort,
but the two realized the feeling of hopelessness was just another
aspect of the job process everyone must deal with.

Marino’s foremost difficulty in the job process was
securing interviews. She said every major consulting firm in New
York rejected her resume. To her, the denials translated into
lingering worry.

“The hardest thing right now is keeping your head up,
because when things are bad it’s very easy to get frustrated
when you get a rejection letter from a company saying they are not
hiring,” she said.

By December, Marino had sent out more than 250 resumes. She said
it’s been difficult contacting many of the employers.
“Even when you call to follow up it’s very difficult to
get in touch with someone. … The secretary will just push
you away and will just tell you they are not hiring, or tell you
she can’t connect you to human resources.”

Marino had also been networking since last summer, but she said
so far it seems her networks hadn’t brought many interviews.
She said the only job offer she received was a shortsighted
“B-rate” offer for a desk job in Chicago, which
doesn’t fully utilize her college education. Marino said such
jobs seemed to be the only employment she can hope for.

“Since the economy is so bad, they are hiring college
students who are desperate to find anything at this point,”
she said.

But Marino wasn’t ready to give up. During Spring Break
she went to New York City and strapped on a billboard reading,
“I’m graduating from the University of Michigan and I
need a job. Can you help me?” She then planted herself
outside the front doors of Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Yet
within moments she was escorted away by a security guard amid
distant shouts of “Go Blue!”

But the uselessness of Marino’s tactics didn’t
bother her as much as seeing her college education’s
inability to provide her with a career.

“I’m an out of state student and already I feel like
I’ve invested plenty of money to my education. Really so far
I haven’t seen it pay off,” she said.

For Marino, it was hard not to despair, as she had to decide
whether to risk taking the job in Chicago or grudgingly persist in
the job market battle. Marino was still hopeful and didn’t
want to throw away her education, so she reluctantly turned down
the offer.

But she added, “Putting down the offer in Chicago was
really hard. I don’t know if anything else will come up.
… Putting it down and having nothing, that’s the scary
part.”

Fear of the future also gripped Michalsen’s life.
Michalsen will apply to medical school in June and won’t hear
back until early next year. With a full year to himself, all
Michalsen wanted is an “OK-paying” job that would cover
his bills and give him more experience to improve his chances of
going to medical school. But Michalsen said that seems to be too
much to ask for in today’s job market.

His job search began like all the rest: Digging through the
newspapers, surfing the Internet job sites, calling up hospitals
and using the Career Center. All of them were dead ends, said
Michalsen. “There is just nothing out there,” he
added.

What defined the job search for Michalsen was not only the
scarcity of jobs, but how no one seemed to want to help college
seniors find jobs.

Like Marino, he had doubts that employers actually cared about
his college degree. “The people who have been rejecting me
tell me I have the skills and traits that are very employable. But
then I wonder, ‘Why are you telling me this if you
aren’t going to hire me?’ ”

Furthermore, the job market has also affected many of his
friends. “One of my friends is going to be painting over the
summer. A painting job and he has a microcellular biology degree.
So I mean, what are we doing wrong? Shouldn’t there be
something out there for most of us to do?”

It didn’t seem like he could do anything to change his
prospects except go through the motions and hope eventually
something would come through, Michalsen said.

He added he is convinced that for anyone hoping to head to
graduate school, it will be a frustrating journey.

“Searching for a job … (and) trying to better
yourself by applying to a professional school, it isn’t easy.
And there aren’t too many people helping you on the
way.”

Recently though, both Michalsen and Marino’s efforts have
started to pay off. Michalsen finally found a job at the University
Hospital only a week and a half ago by persistently calling
employers.

Marino also recently picked up a job at a bank where she had
worked a few years before. But Marino said it’s not a
well-paying job and she hopes to find something better that will be
earned because of her education and not because of her connections.
Marino said, “I’m still looking for a job that’ll
make me proud to say that I received it because of my education at
the University of Michigan.”

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