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Class of 2010 facing hard decisions

Amanda Gray | Friday, March 26, 2010

In light of the struggling economy, seniors are facing choices for their future as graduation nears.

Kevin Monahan, associate director of the Career Center, said the job market is improving.

“A number of students and employers have reported job acceptances for the class of 2010.The job market continues to be challenging, but not impossible,” Monahan said.

Monahan said job opportunities are still available.

“We currently are running a virtual fair through the Go IRISH system and there are close to 200 jobs and internships associated with the fair,” Monahan said. “There are museum, film, finance, marketing, nonprofit, engineering and government jobs and internships associated with the fair.”

When it comes to choosing graduate school or the workforce, Monahan said future career goals should be the driving force behind a student’s decision.

“The Career Center would encourage any senior who is still in the midst of a career search to schedule an appointment to come into the office, learn about available resources and create a game plan for success,” Monahan said.

Another career option for graduating seniors include graduate school. According to the Pew Research Center, the “millennial” generation is the most educated generation in American history. The education boom accelerated with increased college and community college enrollment because of the lack of jobs.

Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 39.6 percent were enrolled in college as of 2008, according to Pew.

“Graduate school attendance seems to be increasing,” said Nyrée McDonald, associate dean for Recruitment and Admissions to the Notre Dame Graduate School. “The Notre Dame applicant pool grew by 17 percent for the Fall 2010 admissions season.”

McDonald said she encourages students to talk to faculty members because they are the best resource to learn how to apply to their fields and graduate schools.

“I talked with a small group of Notre Dame undergraduates about graduate school. My advice is to have research experience before you apply to graduate school,” McDonald said. “Take each component of the application seriously and write to your audience, they are tenure track faculty members who love what they do. You need to convince them that you love it too.”

According to McDonald, 116 Notre Dame undergraduate students applied to the Graduate School for Fall 2010.

Dan Lindley, an associate professor with the Department of Political Science and the director for the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE), said fellowships can help pay for post-graduate degrees, but also for research, teaching and other purposes.

“Recently we have won some top fellowships for the very first time for Notre Dame,” Lindley said. “We haven’t had a Rhodes [scholar] in a while. Our Fulbright win rate is above the national average.”

Lindley said the Gates and Churchill fellowships were won within the past few years for the first time in Notre Dame history.

“What I hear from my colleagues at other universities is the national trend [for fellowships] is going up,” Roberta Jordan, assistant director for National Fellowships at CUSE, said.
Jordan said Notre Dame’s statistics are staying consistent, though.

“Many of the [fellowship] programs are cutting back the number of slots,” Jordan said. “With the number of applications up and the lower number of awards available, there’s an increase in competition.”