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Career center helps students cope with threat of unemployment

In the current economic downturn, secure jobs are becoming scarcer, affecting the job hunt for both recent Mills graduates and seniors, who are about to begin their careers. Many of these students are now turning to the campus Career Center
for assistance.

The national unemployment rate reached 7.6 percent in January 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. This is up almost 3 percent from January 2008; the unemployment rate was at 4.9 percent at that time.

Career Center Director Kate Dey said managers are still hiring, but are considering fewer workers. Companies that used to hire five to six new employees are now hiring one or two.

Senior Nerea Zallo, an anthropology and sociology major, is uncertain how she will find work after she graduates. “I don’t know how or what,” said Zallo, but “when it comes down to it, I’m just going to try to get a job wherever I can.”

Zallo is focusing on her schoolwork but plans to go to the Career Center for help with her resume.

While she said she is hopeful, Zallo worries. Some of her friends who graduated a year ago are still having trouble finding jobs.

Recent graduate Hannah Hart, who gained a degree in anthropology and sociology, had difficulties competing in the job market.

Some of the jobs Hart applied for would not hire her without a diploma, and since she graduated early, Mills has yet to give her her diploma. Many of the positions she found require two or three years of experience, and there are older job seekers, including 24-year-olds, competing for the entry-level work.

Dey said she also noticed this trend. Many more graduates with master’s degrees are competing with graduates with bachelor’s degrees for entry-level positions.

Despite this, Dey said that people with college diplomas still have the upper hand in terms of eligibility for the position and salary compared to those with only a high school diploma.

Hart did not want to spend more time in college to become an anthropologist, so she settled for teaching. She said teaching will give her better job security.

After posting her resume on Dave’s ESL Café website, where employers recruit English teachers to instruct in foreign countries, she received 30 responses in one day.

The positions Hart applied for would hire her for two years on contract, with free airfare and lodging.

Hart decided to search for jobs overseas because many foreign countries have a greater need for educators, partly because she says “It’s difficult to teach there.

There is a lack of help, and a lack
of materials.”

Senior Emma Blaxter, a women’s studies major, is planning to become a substitute teacher, or join Teach for America, a program with a two-year commitment for college graduates of any major to teach in rural and urban communities.

“The world always needs teachers,” said Blaxter.

Dey said the most secure jobs have consistently been health care and education.
According to the Outlook Occupational Handbook found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the total number of
teachers at all levels reached 3,954,000 in 2006.

The projected employment for 2016 is 4,433,000 teachers, an approximately 12 percent increase.

The handbook also calculated the total number of medical and health service managers as 262,000. The field is supposed to increase by 16 percent and reach 305,000 in 2016.

In order to better navigate the job market, students have been going to the campus career center. According to Dey, 25 percent more students and alumnae have used the center in the last two years.

Dey said the Career Center offers a myriad of services for students interested in graduate school or finding a career. Career counselors can help students build a resume, network with alumnae, and practice being interviewed.

Blaxter said the Career Center helped her by showing her samples of how a resume should look.

Although Blaxter has not visited the Career Center recently, she plans to get help networking with alumnae in her field of interest.

When Hart was a sophomore and junior, she used the Career Center to get tips on building her resume, but she was not
entirely satisfied.

“I felt like it was a learning experience,” said Hart, adding that the Career Center did not offer much in the areas she wanted
to explore.

The services are not limited to current students. Alumnae can get an unlimited number of 50-minute sessions with a
career counselor.

Students who visit the Career Center do not need to have any idea what job they are looking for nor are they required to have a resume ready. They do not even need to dress up.

“Students can roll in, in their pajamas,” said Dey.