With commencement only four weeks away, some soon-to-be graduates are struggling to find jobs with the effects of the economic downturn still lingering.

Lynne Sebille-White, assistant director of the University’s Career Center, said though the job market is starting to show signs of recovery, students are still going to have a difficult time finding jobs.

“I would say that maybe it’s a little better than last year, but it’s certainly not booming,” Sebille-White said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while every state experienced an increase in the unemployment rate last year, Michigan experienced the highest increase in its unemployment rate. And experts report that though the job layoff rate today is about the same as it was during past economic downturns, the net job loss is greater because the hiring rate is lower.

The “brain drain” of students who attend college in Michigan and then leave the state has been cited as a contributor to Michigan’s struggling economy. According to a survey sponsored by S.E. Michigan Workforce Innovations in Regional Economic Development and the Michigan Municipal League, 46 percent of students graduating from public universities in Michigan in 2007 had left the state by the spring of 2008.

Public Policy senior Matthew Wald said he’s experienced the struggle of trying to find a job first hand, and has been searching for jobs in the public sector in Washington D.C. since February.

“It seems like the applicant pool is a lot more competitive given the state of the economy right now,” Wald said. “I feel like most years I would be very competitive for the jobs that I’m applying for, but it’s just such a competitive applicant pool that a lot of agencies or organizations are weeding out candidates who don’t have professional work or experience yet.”

Wald said he is trying to stay focused and keep his options open, but that he’s hoping to land a job with a campaign team he interned with last August.

LSA senior Sarah Neuman, student coordinator of the Public Service Internship Program at The Career Center, said she’s also used connections she formed as an intern in order to arrange interviews with prospective employers. In addition to taking advantage of her connections, Neuman said she’s also been using The Career Center’s website to look for jobs.

“My experience actually is that there are a number of jobs available,” Neuman said. “It’s just not necessarily jobs that I am thrilled about doing, but I don’t feel that there’s a shortage of work out there.”

Sebille-White said some expanding fields like alternative energy technologies and social media are beginning to see an increase in hiring.

Engineering senior Amar Anand will join the product management staff of Facebook as one of about 300 engineers a few days after graduation.

Anand said he started applying for jobs in December 2009, and that he applied to about 20 companies.

“I took this pretty seriously,” he said.

He said he gave a Facebook executive his résumé last semester at a University “tech talk” — an informational meeting between Engineering students and prospective employers. After several interviews, Facebook offered Anand the job in early March.

Beginning the job hunt early definitely gives students an advantage, Sebille-White said.

“Those students who start their search six to nine months before they graduate and are actively engaged are more likely to be employed at graduation or shortly after graduation,” she said.

The Career Center is not a placement office, Sebille-White said, but advisors can help students find out how their passions translate into real-world employment opportunities.

“There’s hardly job security anymore,” Sebille-White said. “You might as well do what you love.”

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