The First Step: Seeking Employment

The First Step: Seeking Employment

Tama Moni
The Dai­ly Campus
Oct. 17, 2017
STORRS, Conn.—Back to col­lege means back to home­work, study­ing for exams and social­iz­ing with friends. It means keep­ing track of your course cred­its and con­nect­ing with your professors.

For under­class­men stu­dents, it’s the begin­ning of young adult­hood and learn­ing con­cepts that will help them in the real world. For upper­class­men stu­dents, they’ve tak­en the required cours­es towards their majors and are about to enter the real world. Their focus will be on intern­ships, con­tin­u­ing their stud­ies or get­ting a job.

There are arti­cles from Forbes, The U.S. News & World Report and Busi­ness Insid­er that pro­vide infor­ma­tion on what majors to pur­sue, what careers are in demand and steps to get those careers. 

3/30/16 Career Fair by Jack­son Haigis
Stu­dents nav­i­gate UCon­n’s spring career fair, put on by the Cen­ter for Career Devel­op­ment in Gam­pel Pavil­ion on Wednes­day. Dozens of employ­ers sent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to speak with stu­dents about full-time oppor­tu­ni­ties, intern­ships, and more.

Then there’s the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—a gov­ern­ment agency that mon­i­tors the pro­ject­ed job growth of occu­pa­tions and com­bines eco­nom­ic out­comes with career pro­jec­tions. Stu­dents may use this to deter­mine what occu­pa­tion they will pur­sue after high­er education.

This fea­ture series will focus on stu­dents enter­ing the work­force. This first part will focus on skills and per­son­al­i­ty types employ­ers are look­ing for in today’s job market.

At a local lev­el, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Con­necti­cut (UConn) just had two career fairs, one for all majors and one focused on STEM stu­dents in late Sep­tem­ber. In the words of Robert Volle Jr., the pro­gram direc­tor of UConn region­al cam­pus­es, who was at the gen­er­al career fair, “career fairs like this are real­ly open to everybody.”

At the gen­er­al career fair, Volle said, for stu­dents in the Col­lege of Lib­er­al Arts and Sci­ences (CLAS), employ­ers that are not STEM-focused are look­ing for great prob­lem solvers.

They know how to learn and apply what they learn,” Volle said.

This match­es what Jim Fin­lay, the direc­tor of recruit­ment and selec­tion at finan­cial ser­vices com­pa­ny North­west­ern Mutu­al, said.

We’re look­ing for peo­ple that are great rela­tion­ship builders,” Fin­lay said. 

Pro­jec­tion of growth of jobs last updat­ed on April 12, 2019. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What if you are not in CLAS or human­i­ties? Pos­si­bly in the School of Fine Arts? What if you have an indi­vid­u­al­ized major?

You’ve got noth­ing to lose but every­thing to gain…There are mil­lions of jobs out there,” Volle said.

Yes, there are “mil­lions of jobs out there.” But the ques­tion is what jobs?

Depend­ing on what you are look­ing for on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics web­site, the data trends will differ.

There are pro­jec­tions for the fastest grow­ing jobs from 2014 to 2024. From a wide angle, the major­i­ty of the jobs list­ed were in spe­cial­ized fields of med­i­cine and tech. The job with the low­est medi­an wage per year was as a home health aide. The job with the high­est medi­an wage per year was an optometrist.

Data dif­fers again when search­ing “Occu­pa­tions with the most job growth.” The data starts with how many jobs there were in 2014 and what they could be in 2024. Low-skilled jobs such as med­ical assis­tants, sec­re­taries and truck-dri­vers were among the largest growth pro­jec­tions. Out­liers such as soft­ware devel­op­ers, com­put­er sys­tems ana­lysts and oper­a­tional man­agers occu­pied a small part of the data.

There are jobs out there. How­ev­er, it depends on the indi­vid­ual and the eco­nom­ic demand for jobs when seek­ing employment.

For our pur­pos­es though, this arti­cle focus­es on the employ­ment of col­lege stu­dents. Par­tic­u­lar­ly UConn stu­dents, who rep­re­sent a sec­tion of future employ­ees from high­er-edu­ca­tion­al back­grounds. The goal for employ­ment will dif­fer from those not from higher-education.

Ear­li­er, Fin­lay said that he wants interns that “are great rela­tion­ship builders.” Volle’s state­ments about good prob­lem solvers and appli­ca­tion of learn­ing also expressed what he believes employ­ers are look­ing for.

Yet it also depends on the indi­vid­ual and what they look for in employment.

Nicholas Ravalese, a junior and finance and French dou­ble major, attend­ed the gen­er­al career fair. Ravalese said he went in hopes of get­ting an intern­ship for the summer.

He said he did his research on the employ­ers before­hand and spoke to 10 of them at the fair. He spoke of his per­son­al­i­ty and how it attracts peo­ple around him—hoping employ­ers will see that.

I always want to cre­ate an atmos­phere of pos­i­tiv­i­ty around me and like good vibes and all that,” Ravalese said. “So, I’m hop­ing that’s how oth­er peo­ple see me as well.”

Danielle Mende, the uni­ver­si­ty recruiter of tal­ent attrac­tion for Indeed, said she vis­it­ed UConn because the return on invest­ment on interns is good for them.

We have real­ly great brand pres­ence with them,” Mende said.

Since Indeed is a com­pa­ny that helps peo­ple find jobs and com­pa­nies pro­mote them­selves, she said she looks for interns that have worked in sales and client support.

She said that under­grad­u­ate interns that have expe­ri­ence in retail or host­ess jobs would be a good fit, as they have dealt with mul­ti­ple populations.

The assump­tion with jobs in STEM is they are in demand, pay well soon­er and require a spe­cif­ic set of skills.

The pur­pose of employ­ers in STEM is, of course, to hire interns with the skillset per­tain­ing to their field, but an individual’s per­son­al­i­ty plays a part in employ­ment as well.

At the UConn STEM career fair, Amy Ryczko, the cor­po­rate recruiter for Fuss & O’Neill – a civ­il and envi­ron­men­tal engi­neer­ing firm – said she looks for stu­dents who have lead­er­ship abil­i­ty and can talk about themselves.

Ryczko said she looks to hire peo­ple that “aren’t afraid to talk to peo­ple they don’t know.”

She said some interns will come in know­ing all of the mate­r­i­al for the job, but some will not and that’s okay. She said her com­pa­ny is will­ing to teach if the intern is will­ing to learn.

She said it’s impor­tant for stu­dents to be per­son­able, but that some interns will only focus on the tech­ni­cal side while oth­ers may be bet­ter with communication.

It’s a very spe­cif­ic per­son­al­i­ty. It’s a very spe­cif­ic skill set. It’s very impor­tant,” Ryczko said.

So, for STEM-focused employ­ers, while skillset is high­ly impor­tant, know­ing how to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers is ben­e­fi­cial as well.

Devin Patel, a senior com­put­er sci­ence major, said he attend­ed the STEM career fair in hopes of secur­ing a job.

Patel said he looks for com­pa­nies that “wouldn’t be bor­ing work­ing there.” He said he wants to enjoy the place he is employed at.

While spe­cial­iza­tion with­in skillsets is trend­ing for in-demand jobs now, he said he came to the career fair not look­ing for employ­ers in a spe­cial­ized field.

I came here look­ing for a bunch of dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies,” Patel said. “I think that’s one of the best things about com­put­er sci­ence. There’s so much you can do with that field.”

The gen­er­al career fair fea­tured com­pa­nies most­ly in busi­ness and edu­ca­tion. The STEM career fair fea­tured com­pa­nies in the engi­neer­ing, sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy fields.

But what if your career aspi­ra­tions go out­side of the stan­dard com­pa­nies rep­re­sent­ed at both career fairs?

Patrick Carig­nan, a senior dou­ble major in com­mu­ni­ca­tions and jour­nal­ism, said his career goals went beyond what the com­pa­nies were offer­ing at the gen­er­al career fair.

Carig­nan said he would like to work for an adver­tis­ing agency and focus on cre­ative mate­r­i­al to pro­duce for large corporations.

UConn nev­er brings those peo­ple,” Carig­nan said.

He said Con­necti­cut is too far away to bring in com­pa­nies from the larg­er cities like Boston and New York. Yet, he said he thinks UConn should cre­ate a sur­vey that reach­es a wider vari­ety of stu­dents that are inter­est­ed in careers beyond stan­dard fields.

It seems that there is no one right way to seek employ­ment as a col­lege stu­dent. While there are com­pa­nies that you can tai­lor your skills to meet their needs, the process still depends on the individual.