One year after jobs crisis, students find boom


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Trevaughn Wright-Reynolds, a senior at Colby College in Maine, expected a lengthy job search when he returned to campus in August. “I wasn’t sure what interest I was going to get,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think about the job market.

It didn’t take long for him to find out. In September, he was in the final round of interviews with multiple suitors, and on October 1, Wright-Reynolds accepted a position with a proprietary trading company in Chicago. “I didn’t think I would get an offer so quickly,” he said.

For many students, the onset of the pandemic last year did more than disrupt their studies, threaten their health and shut down life on campus. He also closed the usual paths that lead from the classroom to jobs after graduation. Campus recruiting visits have been abandoned and the coronavirus-induced recession has forced companies to withdraw from hiring.

But this year, seniors and recent graduates are in high demand as white-collar employers increase their numbers, with some job seekers receiving multiple offers. University employment office managers and corporate human resources managers report hiring is well above last year’s levels and, in some cases, exceeding pre-pandemic activity in 2019.

“Today’s market is great for jobs,” said Lisa Noble, director of employer partnerships and emerging avenues at Colby. “There was a lot of apprehension for business in 2020. People wanted to see how things were going to work and were at a standstill.” Since June 1, Noble has had discussions with 428 employers, up from 273 at the same time last year.

Much of the recruiting is done virtually, as are job fairs and even many internships. But the use of virtual platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams for interviews, job offers and possibly welcoming new recruits on board has not quenched the enthusiasm of employers.

“The appetite for the academic workforce is strong right now, whether it’s student positions or part-time, all through entry-level jobs,” said Jennifer Neef , director of the Career Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

This appetite at this point in the pandemic – with overall U.S. employment still below 5 million as of early 2020 – underscores the long-standing economic premium for those with a college education over those with a college education. holders of a simple high school diploma.

The unemployment rate for all workers with college degrees was 2.8% in August, compared to 6% for high school graduates without college. Among workers aged 22 to 27, the unemployment rate in June was 6.2% for those with at least a bachelor’s degree and 9.6% for those without, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“We have seen a fork in the labor market recovery,” said Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics. “University graduates have been less affected by job losses and have rebounded faster, while those with a high school diploma or less have seen a much more severe decline in employment opportunities during the COVID crisis. ”

Additionally, the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus has been a blow to those without a college degree, hitting areas they depend on most, such as restaurants and bars, hotels and businesses in detail. In contrast, white collar workers are booming.

Office work can also be done remotely, a key advantage over face-to-face jobs with consumers who frequently employ less educated workers. In many cases, new hires will rarely set foot in the head office, with orientation and full-time work mostly taking place online.

And the courtship rituals of recruiters have not changed, even if everything is done online.

“It’s back to business as usual,” said Wendy Dziorney, head of global university recruiting at HP Inc. The company plans to hire 315 graduates from the class of 2021 in the United States, up from 126 of the class. 2020 and 210 in the class of 2019.

Fall marks the peak of the campus recruiting season, with full-time interviews and vacancies for seniors, while internships invite sophomores and juniors.

“October is our busiest month,” said Jennifer Newbill, director of academic recruiting at Dell Technologies. His company has expanded its full-time offerings to more than 1,300 graduates this year, up 60% from 2020.

Recruiters of students in the hottest majors – including engineering, IT, accounting, and economics – come face to face for the same candidates.

“I have been with the firm for 26 years and have never seen it so competitive,” said Rod Adams, head of talent acquisition and integration at PwC, the accounting and consulting firm . “It’s not just our direct competitors, but also technology companies, major industries, banks and investment firms.”

For this year, PwC plans to expand internship and full-time job offers to 12,000 people, up 15-20% from 2020 and 10% above 2019 levels. many employers, PwC approaches students early and tries to convince the best candidates to sign up as soon as possible.

The interview process stretched until November, but Adams hopes to receive offers by the middle of the month and hear from the candidates by Thanksgiving. “We’re moving faster and as soon as the students step foot on campus, they start to hear us,” Adams said.

PwC uses a hybrid approach to recruiting, with Adams and his team visiting a few campuses in person while reaching out to many more virtually. “This allows us to extend our reach,” he said.

In particular, the company has made an effort to recruit students from historically black colleges and universities, recruiting from 35 of these institutions; five years ago, it was recruiting out of seven.

The increase in campus hires means more choice for some current students as well as belated help for the class affected by the 2020 pandemic, said Annette McLaughlin, director of the Office of Career Services at Fordham University.

“Activity is up significantly from last year and is about 10% higher than it was before the pandemic,” she said. “It is likely that students will receive several offers and they will have to choose. “

The rebound is also benefiting recent Fordham graduates like Jonah Isaac, who graduated in May 2020, two months after the start of the pandemic. Several companies withdrew offers and Isaac, a business administration student, spent a year interviewing for positions that never materialized until a Fordham alumnus helped him secure a position. sales development at Moody’s Analytics in June 2021.

“It was a huge success for many students, and getting nothing was demoralizing,” said Isaac, a Chicago native who was a wide receiver for the Fordham football team. “I would come to the third or fourth interview and they were like, ‘Sorry, we’re going in a different direction. “

The 2021 class members had an easier time. Brittanie Rice, a graduate of Spelman College, landed a job at Dell after working as an intern the previous summer. “I felt lucky,” she said. “A lot of my friends had cancellations left and right, but my internship continued.”

Rice had a major in computer science, a concentration particularly sought after by many large employers. But Newbill, Dell’s director of university recruiting, said her company is also hiring students specializing in non-technical fields – like philosophy and journalism – for sales positions. “Sales are about personality, not degree,” she said.

Yet graduates in STEM-related fields are the most successful.

Manuel Pérez, 23, has been working for two months as a data analyst at Accenture, which led him to relocate to Nashville, Tennessee, after graduating from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez.

Pérez, an information systems specialist, said he attended a virtual career fair last October and applied to work at Accenture after meeting with recruiters on Microsoft Teams. After three rounds of interviews, he received a job offer in March and started his post in the summer.

“I had other job offers, but they all wanted me to start immediately, and I wanted to graduate first,” said Pérez, from Camuy, Puerto Rico. “I think the demand for jobs has increased, with more and more people demanding better pay, in everything from retail to white collar workers.”

Wright-Reynolds, senior Colby, is studying statistics with a minor in computer science. A native of Medford, Mass., He will join the Chicago Trading Company in August.

“It was a great opportunity, and I couldn’t go wrong accepting it,” he said. “I feel like a weight is coming off my shoulders. I have a lot more time to enjoy the past year.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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