The national job outlook for 2009 college graduates has fallen to the lowest levels in the past six years, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, which shows a 52 percent decrease in hiring.
But Miami University graduates may be entering a friendlier job market. Miami surveyed 220 employers that participated in a September career fair on campus, and found 29 percent of employers surveyed plan to increase hiring, while only 12 percent expect a decrease.
"This tells us that there is a big difference in terms of hiring expectations for the companies who've visited our campus and that Miami graduates are held in very high regard," said Rick Hearin, director of career services.
Casi McClellan is one of the fortunate ones. She's already been offered and accepted a job with Procter & Gamble. A Miami strategic communication major and marketing minor, McClellan went into the P&G interview with two internships - one at Target and the other at General Mills - under her belt.
"A big help to me was that I was proactive early and earlier than most in my class," McClellan said. "As a Miami student, there are so many hard-working people (here), that you really have to go the extra mile to make yourself stand out."
Hearin agrees and tells students not to underestimate for a minute how competitive the job market is at this time. "It's important that students understand that if they have a passion for what they want to do and can be persuasive, they can be very successful."
Hearin said the office of career services always has coached students to have a "plan B." Now, the suggestion is to have a "plan C" as well. Other tips Hearin suggests for grads:
* Make full use of the campus career center as much as possible; most who take advantage of such services usually end up in good shape.
* Be extremely well prepared for the interviewing process; in this tumultuous market, it's more important than ever to be able to communicate interest in and qualifications for the position.
* Don't forget to follow up to secure the offer: stay on top of the hiring process, write thank you notes and make absolutely certain the employer knows that you're interested and available to get rolling.
* And for non-graduating seniors, it's imperative to have some practical experience, such as a co-op, volunteer work or internships to support and illustrate the level of interest in a chosen field.
In the meantime, Miami is being proactive in assisting upcoming graduates entering the uncertain market. Campus leaders from career services, student affairs, alumni relations and development are discussing means of leveraging Miami's alumni connections and relationships with corporate and other benefactors to identify internship and employment opportunities.
"We're hoping to capitalize on existing print- and Web-based communication strategies as well as provide tailored professional consultation to prospective internship employers," Hearin said.
"Action plans are evolving as we marshal the resources available to us."
Sarah Benedetti, a Miami senior international studies major and anthropology minor, appreciates any advice and assistance she can get. She'd eventually like to get a job in career development, but for now she's interviewing with staffing firms, in hopes of filling gaps left open by downsizing.
"I'm hoping to have a job by spring break," said Benedetti. "I'm not stressing yet, but ask me again at the end of February."