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Students get early start on job search

Justin Tardiff | Monday, December 6, 2004

Despite this fall’s strong job market, most Arts and Letters seniors will wait for the spring hiring season or opt for service programs or graduate school as they have in past years, although several students with business aspirations have already secured post-graduate employment.

Students whose interests include journalism, public relations, media, advertising, public policy and government find 70 percent of their career opportunities during spring semester and the early summer months, according to a statement released by the Notre Dame Career Center.

However, a greater number of Arts and Letters students have interviewed with companies in the business sector this fall. Several have received job offers, which is a small feat considering that poor job markets in recent years have forced companies such as consulting firms and investment banks to limit recruitment of liberal arts majors.

Interest in service programs and graduate schools remain high, but are not necessarily influenced by the economy.

Every year about 10 percent of graduates pursue one- or two-year service programs, which roughly translates into 200 students. Arts and Letters students are always the most represented college, according to the Center for Social Concerns.

This year, Teach for America received 45 applicants from Notre Dame seniors by the first deadline, compared with 27 last year. Other service programs, including the Alliance for Catholic Education, expect a large applicant pool.

However interest in graduate school has increased over the past years for Arts and Letters students. This year, 15 percent of graduates have expressed intentions to attend graduate school, up from 11 percent last year, according to the 2004 Dean’s Report released this fall.

Fall can be daunting for liberal arts seniors as they watch their business peers secure post-graduate employment, but the Career Center urges students to be patient.

“It’s an unfolding story of second semester,” said Lee Svete, Career Center director. Many companies appealing to liberal arts students post job openings in the spring because they want students to begin working four to six weeks after the job offer.

“It turns second semester into almost the second half kickoff,” Svete said, which begins with on-campus and off-campus career fairs over winter break.

Like many Arts and Letters seniors, Lizett Martinez will weigh several options. She plans to attend the career fair, but will likely pursue a teaching service program or attend law school.

“I know that a career right now would be just to gain experience,” said Martinez, a political science and FTT major. “It seems that at this point, it’s the most convenient time to do [service], later on it will be much more difficult to take time out.”

Months of research and preparation paid off for Kim Anderson, an economics and political science major, one of the fortunate Arts and Letters students to have secured a job with a consulting firm.

While she found that companies were open to hiring liberal arts students, proving she was qualified was not always an easy task.

“You could always tell in the interview who had been liberal arts majors and who was business,” she said. “Those [recruiters] that were Arts and Letters were slightly less skeptical of your ability to do the job you were being asking to do.”

Like Anderson, Kate Brennan took advantage of the fall recruitment, but realized the business world was not for her. After several frustrating weeks of researching other fields, the senior economics major is now exploring the non-profit sector.

“It was good to know I didn’t want to have their job,” Brennan said, referring to business recruiters. “Just having interviews was really helpful to me. I’d probably still be looking into management and consulting if I hadn’t gone.

“Now I’m actually excited to finish all my schoolwork and start looking into jobs because I found a lot out there that’s still pretty cool,” she said.