Student graduation timing examined in job search

All students face the dog-eat-dog job hunt after graduation, but the time of year graduation occurs may play a role in how well a student does.

Katie Mantooth, Career Services counselor, said the biggest issue students face is the hiring period within each industry.

“This depends on the industry and type of position a student is seeking,” Mantooth said. “In education, there do not tend to be as many opportunities in January. However, the rest of the world doesn’t operate on an August-ish start date.”

Hiring can be based on need, on the fiscal year or on when the training period begins, Mantooth said. When these needs do not line up with graduation dates, students should not give up searching for job opportunities.

Mantooth said the average job search can take six to nine months. Students may get hired, but have to wait for the start of the new training period to begin working.

“Some companies recruit and hire training classes that may only start each July for example,” Mantooth said. “That doesn’t mean a December grad won’t be selected. It just means he or she may be without employment until then.”

Chelcee Stearns, senior from Marion, Ill., said her experience with the finance industry has taught her the importance of timing.

  Stearns, who will graduate this December, interned with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in Ohio last summer and was offered a permanent position. Stearns said the finance industry only hires at the first of the year. For her, timing is everything.

“There’s also less competition, I’d think,” Stearns said. “But finding a job in general is just hard. The industry is important though. Finance only hires at the first of the year, but they’re always hiring for (public relations).”

Stearns said she thought her fresh skill set gave her an advantage. A more recent internship means she has less time to fall behind or forget what skills she learned.

Madeline Slimack, senior from Bellville, Ill., will graduate in May. After a year away from her Omnicom internship in Chicago, she thinks it will reflect negatively on her resume.

“It’s a whole year of not being focused on that skill,” Slimack said. “I’ll be starting from the bottom again instead of picking up where I left off.”

No matter the time of year, both Slimack and Stearns said it takes effort to seek out available jobs and dedication to pursue them.

For December graduates, Stearns said available jobs may not be as noticeable but there could be less competition.

Slimack said May graduates might find employers easily but there will be more competition from graduates and potential interns.

Kevin Qualls, assistant business professor, said the increased competition in May from the mix of graduates and internship hopefuls can make it more difficult for traditional graduates.

Students graduating in December are less numerous and therefore more easily sought and targeted, he said.

Qualls said employers have contacted him in the past to ask about students graduating in December.

He said the fiscal year plays a big role in corporate hiring because the new budget has been set and money is allocated to new hiring personnel.

Mantooth said she recommends that all students come into Career Services and utilize the one-on-one coaching that is available. A strategy for interviews and submitting job applications can be established with a Career Services counselor.

Story by Amanda Grau, Assistant News Editor