PSU ahead of curve

Graduates well prepared for competitive job market

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Marcus Clem | copy editor

Though recovery from the recession has slowly continued nationwide, employment for young college-educated professionals remains a concern.
About 5.7 of workers nationwide who recently earned a bachelor’s degree are out of work as of March, according to a Pew research poll.
Fortunately, according to numbers compiled by Pittsburg State’s Career Services Office, PSU graduates are a little ahead of the curve.
Sydney Ward, who recently stepped down as SGA vice president as she prepares to graduate, says that the services offered by PSU are a great help, but that ultimately, it’s on each student to succeed.
“Personally, I don’t think the burden is on the university,” she said. “The university encourages you to get involved and prepared for the job market. Resources are there for the students, they just have to take advantage of them.”
Employment and job placement reports from fiscal years 2011 and 2012 show that 97-98 percent of graduating seniors have found jobs or have been accepted as graduate students by the time that Career Services contacts them.
Between 85 and 90 percent of each class is successfully contacted to be included in these reports, which are released one year after each class to ensure as full an accounting as possible.
Preliminary data, which the office stresses do not represent a definitive measure but may indicate what next year’s report will hold, show that 15 percent of the class of 2013 already have accepted full-time jobs and 9 percent have been accepted to graduate school either at PSU or another school.
“This is very early data,” said Mindy Cloninger, director of career services. “This is a very fluid number. People may say they’re going to grad school, but then they get a (job) offer. We don’t have an expectation that students will have all their plans solidified the week before graduation. That’s just not realistic.”
Curtis Thom, graduate assistant for the Department of Communication who is preparing to receive his master’s degree, is one of those students who has an idea where to go and what to do but does not yet know the specifics.
“It is a very strange feeling to be completely done,” he said. “I’ve built a reliance on the structure of learning. To leave that behind and enter a new realm of understanding is a very peculiar feeling. The university has given me everything that I can even imagine.”
Career Services, Cloninger says, is equipped to help students who are confident in their professional future and just need to hammer out the details while searching for jobs. This can include some situations that are unique to each student.
“I’ve had one senior who was a vegetarian,” Cloninger said, “and a prospective employer asked to meet at Chicken Annie’s. She came in to talk about how she can handle that situation without appearing rude or high maintenance.”
However, there are some students who have doubts about their academic careers or fear that they’ve gained a degree that’s not in high demand.
There’s help for them too, Cloninger says.
“It’s very individualized,” she said. “We ask, ‘Is there a way you can put together a package, whether it is a double major or a major and a minor, that will enhance you as a candidate?’ As opposed to just mainstream majors.”
Involvement outside of academics is the key, Cloninger added.
“A 4.0 GPA that has no involvement in extracurriculars … Employers will have some concerns about that, in terms of communication skills and interactions.”

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