St. Norbert College senior Cathy Petrilli will parlay her bachelor's degree in
business administration into a productive career right off the bat.
Set to graduate May 15 from the private school in De Pere, the 21-year-old Richfield native will go to work for Schneider National, the $3 billion Green Bay-based transportation and logistics giant.
"It's designed specifically for new graduates," she said. "It's a four-month rotational leadership position. I have a little bit of time to learn about the business. And then they place me after those four months."
Career counselors said this semester's crop of college graduates face noticeably brighter prospects than their classmates in recent past years.
"It's more positive than it was last year," said Jaime Page-Stadler, director of career services at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. "I would say our on-campus interviews and postings are up."
The postings on UWO's online database link students in search of jobs with employers who are hiring.
Students can apply directly through the system or on the company's website. The jobs range from part-time internships to full-time positions.
Students who have a liberal studies background seem to have the edge in the job market. They include those with communications, history or journalism in their academic record.
"Students who kind of have that holistic degree, who are flexible, who aren't set in doing one specific thing. Employers are really gravitating toward those majors right now just because what they're hiring for today could be very different than tomorrow," Page-Stadler said.
At UWO, a total of 1,422 students have applied to graduate in spring and summer, meaning they're eligible to go through commencement. Page-Stadler was unsure what percentage of those will have jobs lined up at graduation. But of those, about 70 percent will land jobs to their liking within nine months of graduation if previous trends prevail -- and that considers all majors, she said.
What positions are companies hiring for? Sales jobs for one, followed by management trainee posts, which also are in demand.
Employers hunting for those with a more generalist academic slant cross a smattering of different fields -- some in banking, some in not-for-profit organizations and those in the entertainment or art realm, she said.
Graduates who run the risk of hitting snags definitely include those headed for the education field, and not just because of pressures imposed by Gov. Scott Walker's contested collective bargaining bill, which is hung up in the judicial realm.
"Even nationwide it's tough, especially for specific licensures: social sciences, elementary education," Page-Stadler said.
At St. Norbert, the 450 or so slated to graduate this spring will find this year's job market similar to last year, said Mandy Nycz, associate director of career services.
Last year of those seeking employment, about 20 percent landed positions, which placed the school right in line with the national average, Nycz said.
"The number of positions are still down compared to where they were five or 10 years ago. However, we are seeing an increase in certain areas," she said. "Accounting has seen an increase over last year. Computer science we're seeing an increase over last year. And even some of the management trainee programs (are showing) an increase over last year."
About 60 percent of St. Norbert students are from Wisconsin.
"So we do see a large percentage who want to stay in the state. The second most popular location is the Chicagoland area," she said.
The upbeat forecast was reflected in a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, or NACE, a Bethlehem, Pa., organization whose reports are quoted by both UWO and St. Norbert.
According to NACE, employers responding to a 2011 fall preview survey reported plans to hire 13.5 percent more new bachelor's degree graduates from the class of 2011 than they did the class of 2010.
For graduating St. Norbert senior Petrilli, her position with Schneider National was well worth her search.
She is a business management major and has a leadership studies minor. She attended a couple of job fairs at the beginning of the semester. She spoke with the company's representative at a St. Norbert fair followed by a phone interview. About a week later, the company approached her and offered the position.
"Schneider National was my first choice going into it and the position I was most excited about," she said.
She starts June 13.
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