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Career outlook promising for 2011

Nicole Taczauer | Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Last year when senior Caitlin Sullivan contacted an Egyptian marine conservation called Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association, she didn’t expect to have a job lined up after graduation.

Sullivan — who found a posting online — is now in position to become the organization’s communications officer. According to Sullivan, the company said it would send the offer and contract this February.

“I’d say I’m more surprised than anything. I didn’t actually expect to hear back from this organization, since they’re based in Egypt,” Sullivan said. “I’m excited about the job.”

Seniors are now gearing up for graduation, surveying their options, and choosing which path they will take when May arrives.

Lee Svete, director of the Career Center, said despite economic turbulence in the job market the past few years, Notre Dame students have ridden the current and come out on top.

“There is no sugarcoating it — it’s been a tough market out there, one of the most competitive job markets in the history of the modern economy,” he said. “Yet, our students did well.”

This accomplishment may be attributed to a greater frequency of students using resources from the Career Center.

“We’ve had almost 4,000 individual appointments in the fall. That’s a new record,” Svete said. “We’re also seeing more sophomores and juniors.”

Svete said 90 percent of the class of 2009 had a career opportunity in position after graduation. Once the 2010 statistics are in, he said he expects the percentage to be even higher.

Considering positions for this year, seniors demonstrate a very diverse set of interests Svete said, which will allow them to do anything with their career if they plan it out.

Senior Katie Valko said planning has created many options for her to choose from.

“I’m taking the LSAT next month as a kind of last minute whim decision just to see how I do,” Valko said. “I feel like I’ve set myself up well to succeed in whatever I pursue and have a lot of doors open. I think Notre Dame has really helped me to do that.”

Svete said many students, like Valko, have several options they are looking into.

“We’re seeing a real interest right now with working with non-profits, government, healthcare, financial services and corporate headquarters in retail,” he said.

Most noticeably, however, is a shift in student interest toward service organizations, Svete said. Over 200 students followed this path after graduation last year.

“Students are very focused on finding the right kind of employer and organizations who are socially responsible,” he said. “They forgo a higher paying job because they want to make a difference in the world.”

For seniors still searching, Svete said more recruiters will be on campus.

“Recruiting is up about 20 percent compared to last year,” he said. “We think that it looks, in terms of economic reports, that more employers will be posting jobs.”

Svete said while Notre Dame attracts many employers, if students apply to companies online, they can also work with the Career Center to prepare.

“Let’s say you want to work for ESPN. You can apply on the ESPN website, but why not also work with an alumni who is right there in Connecticut?” Svete said. “That gives you the leg up.”

Professional contacts makes an individual more successful in a job search said Svete. He cites practice for interviews as a key distinguisher between candidates.

“If you have an interview with the L.A. Times, come in and do it with us first,” he said. “Know your strengths and your weaknesses and your personal goals.”

Any Notre Dame student, Svete said, can begin to prepare. This preparation can help soothe any worries in the process.

Senior Kim Duffy said she remembers feeling nervous while completing applications and interviews. The tension before receiving work as a railroad designer in Anchorage, AK for Hanson Professional Services is difficult to describe, she said.

“A horrible ‘what if’ bubbles up from your self conscious when you are least prepared,” she said. “What if no one calls me back? What if I hate my first job?”

To counteract these worries, Svete said students should begin early.

“Network and have a LinkedIn group — which is like the Facebook of professionals and is 18,000 strong — develop your contact network, write your résumé, talk to professors and use Career Center resources,” he said.

The Career Center has counselors for every major and will work with students who don’t have jobs upon graduation.

“At graduation we will know the names of individuals seeking jobs,” he said. “If you graduate from ND without a job, we have staff in place for that.”

Students often avoid visiting the Career Center in Flanner Hall, Svete said, because they don’t have a specific career in mind.

“You don’t have to know what you want to do. Come over and use us anyway,” he said. “By going to fairs, networking with alumni and realizing you’re going to get some rejections along the way, those experiences will help you down the road.”