Graduates face difficult job market

06/10/09 7:49AM By Melody Bodette
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(Host) Now that the pomp and circumstance is over at most Vermont colleges, some new graduates are facing a tough job market.

A New England economist says the situation is likely to get better by the middle of next year.

But that's little consolation for students who are finding life after graduation isn't quite what they'd planned.

VPR's Melody Bodette has more.

(Bodette) Graduates line up at Middlebury College under a pouring rain.

(Cheering) on behalf of Middlebury board of trustees and faculty I'd like to welcome you to commencement 2009."

(Groblewski) I'm Natasha Groblewski. I'm a senior econ major from Middlebury College, I'm originally from Lexington, Massachusetts. I'm 22 years old. I just figured it would all fall into place. I mean nobody expected that this was going to happen. I know when I was a freshman I didn't expect that there would be some kind of recession  going on when I graduated and that the job market would be so bad.

(Bodette) Natasha checks her email.

(Natasha) Dear Natasha, Thanks so much for your message, your back ground is certainly sounds impressive, unfortunately we have a very small firm here in Portland and our business simply isn't large enough to support a third person. We would love to meet you when you get to Portland. The automated emails...Thank you for your application, a representative will get back to you in the next four weeks. If you do not hear from us, we'll keep your resume on file. Right I'm sure that really happens.

(Host) A few days before graduation, the computer labs at Vermont Technical College's Williston campus are empty:

(Child) One of the computer labs open? Woman; I think so. 

(Child) Hi.  My name is Andrew Child, I go to Vermont Technical College, I'm graduating here in a couple of days, I'm currently in the process of looking for work like so many other people. what I've been doing is going online, doing the Monster search, a couple other job websites, yahoo. I'm graduating for electromechanical engineering. I've got a couple of interviews that I've been to that sounds promising, but as of right now. We're still up in the air waiting for a response.

(Bodette) Child's graduation fell on his 30th birthday. He worked in sales for eight years and even managed a McDonald's before starting college. But he says that experience isn't helping his job search.

Groblewski started looking for economic consulting jobs in September. And she got through several rounds of interviews before having second thoughts about working in that field.

(Groblewski)  I mean also, being a consultant as a 22-year-old is pretty prestigious and whenever I used to talk about it people would be really wowed and I figured if I could do it I might as well, but I realized my heart wouldn't be there.

(Bodette) Michael LeVert is an economist in Maine who follows the New England economy. He says even though there aren't many help-wanted ads, graduates should stay focused on jobs they find interesting.

(LeVert) To have a long-term outlook, find something you like to do, develop relationships, get trained, and work hard and even though we're in the midst of a recession, you'll be successful. 

(Bodette) But he says there are more applicants for open positions.

(LeVert) "I do think that you're seeing a lot of competition between entry-level positions and people who have had advanced training and advanced experiences."

(Bodette) Andrew Child says waiting for the right job to come around is a lot harder with the pressure of $50,000 worth of student loans. He's living with his parents while he looks for a job. But he's not ready to settle:

(Child) I unfortunately planned my financial budget so that it lasts me to the end of the school year, and here we are at the end of the school year and I'm kind of at the end of my budget.  I've got a couple companies I can go work for. But I don't want to work for a company that's not in my field because then it takes all of this knowledge that I've just learned and throws it down the toilet.

(Bodette) Economists say while students may be frustrated with loans, their investment will pay off. In Vermont, 70 percent of the jobs that pay-above average wages require a bachelors degree or higher.

Groblewski has decided to move to Portland, Oregon and look for jobs with education programs for autistic children. And this summer she'll be working at a camp in that field. Her full-time job search still keeps her up at night.

But Groblewski says she's not too worried. Without student loans she can hold out while the economy bounces back. And at least in New England, Economist Michael LeVert projects gains in the job market by mid-2010.

For VPR News, I'm Melody Bodette.


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