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Class of 2011 graduates enter the job market

Kristen Durbin | Friday, May 20, 2011

As current seniors prepare to enter a new phase in their lives, many will benefit from a rebounding economy and join the workforce in a few weeks.

Kevin Monahan, associate director of the Notre Dame Career Center, said the job market for the class of 2011 has improved from what it was one to two years ago.

“With any year, the timing of hiring depends on the needs of the industry,” he said. “But across the board, almost every field was better this year, from banking and finance to marketing and retail to engineering.

In 2010, 82 percent of the senior class had definite plans for graduate school, service or employment at the time of their graduation, and 98 percent of the class had solidified its plans within three months of graduation, Monahan said.

He said he anticipates this year’s class to reach up to 85 percent of definite plans following graduation. According to a 2011 study by the National Association for Colleges and Employers, only 24 percent of graduating seniors across the nation have a job in hand.

“Those are the traditional numbers, but this year, we expect more students to have more definite plans at graduation time,” Monahan said. “There are definitely more opportunities now than there were 12 months ago.”

Monahan said companies conducted 30 percent more interviews on campus during this academic year compared to last year. These interviews led companies like KPMG and Target to hire more graduating Notre Dame students this year than in previous years, he said.

“KPMG normally hires about 30 graduating students for full-time positions, but this year, they hired 41,” he said. “Target usually hires 12 to 14 graduating students, and this year that number went up to 19.”

Senior Sarah Weiler, a chemical engineering major, accepted a position at the chemical company HallStar after working as an intern there last summer. The hunt for a job market seemed easier than that for an internship, she said.

“This year, companies got back to me faster about potential positions in comparison with last year,” Weiler said. “In that respect, [the job market] was better, but people weren’t falling over themselves to offer you jobs or anything.”

Senior Eric Weeldreyer, who will work at Credit Suisse after interning with the investment bank last summer, said he thinks the job market for his class has improved.

“Corporate hiring has certainly rebounded for well-qualified college grads [from] the depths of the financial crisis and recession,” he said. “The job markets certainly are not as robust as they were in the years leading up to the crisis, but opportunities are available for those who put strong effort into the process.”

Weeldreyer said the investment bank offered him a full-time position on the last day of his internship. He said his work with Credit Suisse ultimately paid off.

“My experience looking for a job was more my experience looking for an internship,” he said. “The experience was quite stressful and felt very competitive, but that internship was the key to finding full-time employment.”

Though senior Katie Manfred double majored in English and Film, Television and Theatre at Notre Dame, she will work after graduation at Epic Systems, which specializes in online medical records. She said obtaining a job with the company came rather unexpectedly.

“My plan has always been to work for a couple of years and then go back to graduate school because I’m still not sure what I want to study in graduate school,” Manfred said. “I decided I wanted to do something outside of the theater, so I cast out a lot of lines with no specific requirements in mind.”

Although the position does not directly relate to her career goals, Manfred said she is embracing the opportunity.

“[Working at Epic] is a great way for me to get some work experience with a great company, save some money and take some time away from an academic setting to decide what I want to study in the future,” she said.

The Career Center will assist graduating students still seeking employment, Monahan said.

“Looking for a job is always difficult, stressful and never easy, but we’re committed to helping any student that is still actively seeking employment or definite plans,” he said.