American college students aren't feeling great about life after black gowns and graduation parties.
A survey released yesterday by Right Management, a Philadelphia-based employment consulting firm, found that 72 percent of the 236 "recent and soon-to-be college graduates" expect trouble in finding their "ideal job," up from 59 percent in 2007. Only 26 percent think their ideal job will be "somewhat to very easy" to obtain, down from 37 percent last year.
Perhaps reflecting that concern, members of the senior class converged at the Career Development Center's annual event for career-related resources yesterday.
While the event is meant to benefit seniors as an early reminder of the potentially stressful job-search season, the members of the senior class who attended the event were on edge in a crowded Salomon 101.
The event, led by CDC senior associate director Barbara Peoples and senior assistant director Ron Foreman, had a distinctly optimistic tone, but the anxiety about finding a job in a weakened economy and graduating with increasing college debt was palpable. When Peoples asked the seniors in attendance if they felt stressed about future job prospects, more than half of the hands in the auditorium went up.
Anxiety about post-college plans is nothing new, but the poor economy and lack of money in academic and non-profit work were on the minds of some seniors attending the CDC meeting.
Lily Axelrod '09, a public policy and Latin American studies concentrator who was at the CDC meeting, said she worries about finding a meaningful job that still provides essential benefits like health care.
"It's partially the anxiety of ... not having a firm path, and part of it has to do with the economy," Axelrod said about her employment angst. She hopes to work for a non-profit or a union for a few years before potentially returning to academia.
Randi Roberts '09, an art history concentrator, said she hopes to find temporary work in New York City next year, perhaps as an au pair or with Teach for America.
"There is no money in art right now," Roberts said. She added she is interested in museum education, but poor funds at museums and galleries limit her opportunities.
"I have some anxiety about finding a high enough paying job that I can support myself (with), and do what I want to do," she said.
Foreman, the career counselor, said that so far this year, the CDC has not received a noticeable uptick in interest or demand for its programs in comparison to previous years, but that it is too early to draw a conclusion.
He said despite the difficulties presented by the weak economy, "there will always be jobs for people if they go about it the right way."
"I know I can find a job," Roberts said. "I also know it's going to be uncomfortable."