A new set of WVU students is preparing to graduate, and university administrators have been preparing students to seek gainful employment.
"I think we've seen a moderate increase in opportunities," said David Durham, Director of WVU Career Services Center.
The center has worked on recruiting companies to campus even during the recession, Durham said. The Professional Education and Teaching Career Fair had about 30 participants before Durham joined the center, four years ago. The number went up to 60 a few years ago, but now it's back in the 30s.
Durham said the center uses one industry in particular to judge the job market -- school districts. They are a good gauge because they are so tapped into the local tax base. They are first to leave campus and the last ones to come back.
Many districts have job opportunities, but can't travel to career fairs because of budget restrictions, Durham said. They ask students to apply directly. Some of the larger districts hold local career fairs, but that puts the cost burden on the student to travel to them.
The center uses two words, preparation and expectation, as students spend their college career readying for the workforce.
To explain preparation, Durham uses the recent example of a student who said she spent 5-7 hours researching a company before her interview. She looked into the company and where she would be living, so she was prepared.
As for expectation, the center asks students early in their college career where they see themselves in five and 10 years. Durham said they get some contradictory answers -- such as a social worker wanting to make $100,000 six years after college.
The center can use that information to counsel a student about a career path. In that example, they might suggest the person get a master's in administration so they can move up the ladder.
Durham said those students who plan to take off to travel or unwind are not taking a good approach.
If people take time off, they have to compete with others who graduate in December or the following spring, Durham said. Companies see a gap in a resume and wonder what happened.
Soon-to-be-grads offered varying opinions about the job market.
Computer engineering major Matt Grubb said he had a job lined up with the Army Corps of Engineers, but because of budget cuts that job might be lost. But it's not a done deal.
During his undergrad experience, Grubb said it was difficult to land a job at the beginning, but once he was in, the people there wanted to help him move on. He has done an internship with the Corps for the past three years.
Electrical engineering major Kevin Knowles said he is still looking for a job and admitted he is being picky about it. He said he turned down one job, because he wasn't fond of the location.
Knowles said he has had a few internships during his career and a few interviews as he looks for a job.
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