New graduates find success in job market

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Alumni excel in spite of economy

With graduation only four months away, seniors may be aching to lay poolside and move back in with their parents for free meals and laundry service. Many will instead spend their summers searching for employment.

While applying for jobs may be a daunting task, future graduates should not be in fear. Several recent alumni agree that the education they received at Saint Louis University has equipped them with the skills to excel in the job market.

According to Kim Reitter, the director of the Office of Career Services in the Student Success Center, 95 percent of students have reported that they are satisfactorily occupied within six months after graduation. They have either found a job within their major, attended graduate school or have neglected to find employment for personal reasons, like taking care of family. While most graduates find a desired path within six months, Reitter said 5 to 6 percent of students may still be searching for employment.

“The economy is still weak, and there are a lot of companies that are not hiring like we were hoping they would be by now,” Reitter said.

However, Reitter predicts that this year may see an increase to 96 percent.

Alumna Anna Casten said that her friends were jealous when she found a job before graduating in 2009.

“I graduated when the job market really crashed, and a lot of my friends couldn’t find a job for months,” Casten said. “I felt really lucky to have a SLU degree.”

Casten, who earned a biology degree, found a job through CareerLink.

During her senior year, Casten utilized CareerLink to find an internship with a small microbiology company.

“Finding an internship with Career Services helped me to find a job later,” Casten said. “The only reason I got the job I have now was because of the internship I had, which qualified me more than the people who had only the degree.”

Casten is now a microbiologist at Barnes Jewish Hospital. CareerLink offers resources to students beyond job listings. Resumes can be critiqued and posted on the website. If they have a webcam, students can also use CareerLink for virtual mock interviews and then send the exchange to Career Services for critique.

Career Services also provides guidance to students unsure of their future plans. Reitter said that making

appointments with career counselors can help students explore career paths pertaining to their interests and abilities. Reitter said that Career Services offers its resources free to students, as well as alumni.

“We understand that what you’re doing in your 20s may not be what you want to do in your 50s,” Reitter said.

Finding a dream job, however, may not happen right after graduation. Alum Chris Dolan, who graduated in 2010 with a degree in business administration, said he encourages students to be optimistic.

“You have to take some jobs you aren’t happy with, and you may have to serve tables in between going to interviews, but take as much as you can from any position,” Dolan said.

After graduation, he secured a position with Ansira, a marketing company in downtown St. Louis. He left the city last summer to search for employment in New York City. While working in New York, Dolan was offered a position in St. Louis with Maritz as a travel director, his “dream job.”

Dolan travels 230 days out of the year and spends his time managing events, conferences and meetings all over the globe. Dolan said his experience studying abroad at the Madrid campus helped him to feel confident in his current position.

“This job was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass,” Dolan said. “It was the best of both worlds because I get to travel and be in St. Louis where my family lives.”

Melissa Faulbaum, who graduated with a degree in communication science disorders, said that aside from a rigorous education, the University has helped her to network with professionals within her field and provide her with a range of interests and skills.

Faulbaum said that although she enjoyed studying communication disorders, she was more interested in the public policies that regulate how it is practiced.

“My capstone project on public policy sparked my interest in politics,” Faulbaum said. “It pretty much changed my life, but in a good way. I had so much fun doing that.”

Through her capstone course, Faulbaum began fundraising for a state Senate campaign. She became increasingly interested in politics and government and currently owns Faulbaum Consulting, L.C.C., where she assists clients with political campaigns.

Faulbaum said the skills she learned from her education at SLU have helped her to recognize how to work with clients.

“I think the communication skills I learned apply to everything I do,” Faulbaum said. “I recognize different dynamics between people and communicate with them in ways that allow me to meet them at their level.”

Like Faulbaum, who said that fields offering positions within her major did not fit her taste, Casten is also exploring other options by going back to school to earn another bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“I wanted to work with people,” Casten said. “I really liked working in a medical setting but working at a lab can be redundant.”

For job-seeking graduates unsure of their options, Casten and Dolan said they think that SLU offers significant opportunities that place its graduates ahead of unemployed competitors.

“I knew that SLU would prepare me for whatever was going to be thrown at me,” Dolan said. “It’s held at a higher standard, and I think the students are the reason. Once we are out there, everyone makes a good example in their work that has given us a great reputation.”

Reitter said she encourages students to attend the career fair from 12 to 4 p.m. in the Wool Ballrooms on Feb. 22, where they can meet with graduate schools and 125 hiring companies. Career Services is also holding an Etiquette Dinner on March 20, where students can learn how to interact appropriately while networking and attending interviews.

Dolan said that aside from a SLU degree, developing networking skills will help students to impress employers.

“A lot of my friends who have graduated from SLU have done really well,” Dolan said. “Businesses are impressed that we are able to handle so much responsibility at such a young age.”