Emory Report
March 2, 2009
Volume 61, Number 22



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March 2
, 2009
Bright spots in dismal job market

By Beverly Clark

The economy may be down, but the mood was upbeat in the Miller-Ward Alumni House during a stormy night in February for a networking event that brought together alumni, employers and students. MBA students and liberal arts major alike met and mingled during the packed Career Center event.

“In this economy, it’s essential that students take advantage of all the contacts available to them,” says Emory senior Ed Sonier, a psychology major who attended the event. So far his job search has yielded two internship offers.

The Career Center has seen high attendance at such events all year, and increased traffic through its doors as Emory seniors prepare to hit one of the worst job markets in recent memory. Recruitment is down about 30 percent nationwide, and Emory too is feeling the effects, says Career Center executive director Paul Fowler.

At Goizueta Business School, a fairly active fall semester for recruitment has seen a big drop off this spring.
“It’s a tough market out there for our seniors. Employers are still offering jobs, but not at nearly the same levels. It’s extremely competitive since companies have shaved off many entry level positions,” says Andy Rabitoy, director of Goizueta’s BBA Career Management Center.

Outside of the business sector, the outlook isn’t quite as challenging, Fowler says.

“Many of our students are very interested in nonprofit, government service jobs. Fortunately it’s a sector that hasn’t been hit like business,” says Fowler. “Because our liberal arts grads are exceptionally educated and committed to community and volunteerism, they have a competitive advantage in seeking such opportunities.”

Since taking over leadership of the Career Center last August, Fowler has focused on increasing recruitment and tapping more heavily in to Emory’s alumni network in order to find more available jobs for students.

Despite the national trends, the Career Center has actually witnessed an increase in job prospects for both internships and full-time positions. “At the beginning of the year, we established an ambitious goal in employer development, and while we did not hit the mark, we are fortunately well ahead of many of our peers in providing genuine prospects for our students,” adds Fowler.

For senior Daniel Goetzel, Emory’s alumni network has yielded opportunities and a mentor who has provided invaluable advice as Goetzel works to find an internship for this summer, ideally in Washington, D.C. working for a political consulting firm.

“It’s definitely been difficult for everybody. I think in this market it comes down to the people you know and being persistent,” he says.

Now and going forward, students need to be especially proactive in their job search and take advantage of the resources available to prepare them for interviews, networking and communication skills, Fowler and Rabitoy say.

“The days when a student could send in a resume, do a few interviews and expect a job offer are over. More so than ever before, students need to differentiate themselves from the crowd,” says Rabitoy, “and it’s a big crowd now.”

One advantage of the economy “is that you learn a lot about yourself,” says Sonier. “It forces you to really evaluate what you want to do, and what skills you have to offer so you can find your niche and market yourself.”