National hiring rate increases to 7.8 percent

Janeal Downs
Staff Writer

Stefani Zenteno
Contributing Writer

Seniors graduating on May 9 and planning to enter the professional workforce after graduation are looking at an increased national hiring rate.

Brian Nicholas, coordinator for the VCU Career Center, said the national hiring rate has increased to about 7.8 percent in the past year because a large portion of the workforce is expected to retire in the next five or six years. Some of the most in-demand majors include finance, accounting, business, engineering and mass communications.

“The baby boomers are hitting retirement age now,” Nicholas said. “There was a surge of employees then so there are going to be a lot of people retiring at the same time, so that’s really going to open up the job market in the next couple of years.”

Among the companies that frequently hire VCU graduates are HDL and Capital One.

The office of Planning and Decision Support reported in the academic year 2012-13 VCU awarded 7,372 degrees and certificates and 7,462 in 2011-12.

Nicholas encouraged not only seniors, but all students, to use the Career Center services. These  services include preparing for interviews, writing resumes and cover letters, and applying to graduate school.

Currently, there are no services offered to alumni more than one year post-graduation, but the career center is hoping to change this in the future. The Alumni Association does offer some career services through online resources, and the Hire VCUrams account is a lifetime benefit, Nicholas said.

As of now, there is no data for how often and how soon VCU graduates find jobs after graduation, Nicholas said. However, this year VCU will participate in an “Outcome Surveys,” a pallet survey conducted along with 15 other universities from around the country.

This project is in conjunction with a company called Career Services Office Research Incorporated, which also provides VCU’s job network, “Hire VCU Rams.”

Destination data will be collected from graduates at graduation    three months, six months and nine months after graduation. The project also will collect long-term data, five and 10 years after the students have graduated.

VCU economics professor Leslie Stratton said the current job market has improved in comparison to the last three years. Job prospects look better for college graduates than high school graduates, she added.

“Students do really need to start looking for a job the fall before they graduate, six to nine months before and internships are important,” Stratton said. “Start looking for a job early, be flexible in terms of geographic location, talk with people who are out here in the job market doing jobs along the lines they might be interested in.”

One senior who does have a job waiting for her after graduation is mass communications major Katherine Johnson. Johnson was offered a full-time position as a reporter for the Petersburg Progress-Index, located in Petersburg, Va.

“I think a lot of your education is what you make of it and the opportunities that you pursue. I’m happy that I came to VCU and had the opportunities that I did,” Johnson said in an email. “I feel that I got a lot of real world experience in my classes, which I can easily transition to my career after graduation.”

Some graduating students who already know what they will do after graduation and have jobs lined up include students in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

“The way (ROTC) works is they get to the senior level and they are already contracted to go,” said Sergeant 1st class Stephen Vise, an ROTC instructor at VCU. “Everyone that comes through here is commissioned into one of the Army components, active Army, Army reserve and National Guard.”

There are 14 students from VCU who will be commissioned this year as second lieutenants, Vise said. Though the military doesn’t look for a specific degree from students, it is most interested in engineering, Vise said.

“Most of the time we’re looking for someone that has to show that they have the intellectual capacity to understand the thinking process and the decision-making process,” Vise said.

Students who have a college degree before entering the military have an excellent opportunity to start off with higher pay rates, but Vise said students considering joining should join for more than just that reason.

“When I graduate I’ll commission as a lieutenant in the Army and the National Guard. I was on the National Guard before I came to VCU and I will be a team leader out in Lynchburg, and I’ll be working law enforcement full time,” said Steven Fumen, an ROTC student of three years who is graduating in May with a degree in homeland security. “I’ll also be furthering my ministry goals in Christian ministries.”

Fumen found out where he would work toward the end of the fall semester. He said the ROTC helped him develop leadership skills and become a lot more humble and confident.

“I would definitely tell (graduates) to follow their dreams because there’s no sense in doing a job that you can’t stand for or you’re just doing for the money because it’s a long time,” Fumen said. “You definitely want to be happy with where you’re at so definitely follow your dreams and passions.”

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