Monday, October 15

Job opportunities still abound for this year’s grads


Despite economic slowdown, recruitment, employment remain high

  Illustration by HINGYI KHONG/Daily Bruin

By Leo Wallach

Daily Bruin Contributor


As graduating students embark into the job market from UCLA,
they’ll abandon their board shorts and sandals and will cover
their tattoo with the polished look of a suit and tie.

Many of this year’s graduating class have reason to be
optimistic about future job prospects despite highly publicized
reports of an economic slowdown. Norm Stahl, a counselor at the
career center, said there has not been a significant decline in
employment opportunities.

“So far we haven’t seen any dramatic decline in our
job listings or firms recruiting on campus,” he said.

Stahl noted there were 10 job fairs held on campus this year
““ all with full attendance ““ compared with an average
of three a year during the economic slowdown of the early
1990s.

Comparisons to the last recessions reveal a completely different
employment environment. Unemployment in April 1992 was 7.4 percent,
compared to 4.5 percent this year.

In California, the unemployment rate has been running a few
percentage points higher. According to the Department of Labor,
this has been due to unemployment in the Central Valley and is
generally not reflected in the employment of college graduates.

During the recession, anxiety was high among graduating students
who crowded around sparse job listing bulletin boards in hopes of
finding a position, Stahl said.

Today’s students ponder their future prospects with
considerably less concern.

Graduating neuroscience student Christa Clark spoke confidently
about her prospects in the teaching profession.

“In math and science teaching, you’re pretty much
guaranteed a job,” she said.

In the computer industry, on the other hand, economic slowdowns
have been widely publicized and jobs are rumored to be scarce.
Nevertheless, Patrick Stavro, a fifth-year computer science
student, is secure enough about his future to take time off to
travel before starting his career.

“I got three job offers for over $60,000 each and
didn’t accept one of them,” he said.

Not everyone is so confident when it comes to the technology
sector. Mainak D’Attaray, an African American studies student
graduating this spring, said the field is showing signs of
weakness.

“The job market seems like it’s shifted from
technology to service-related fields,” he said.

While job opportunities in technology-based fields rise and fall
with the economy, the entertainment industry presents perpetual
obstacles to job seekers.

Third-year theater student Fiona Gubelmann expressed anxiety
about making it as an actor.

“I don’t think it’s secure. I’m nervous
as hell,” she said.

“If you want to work and you work really hard at it, you
will work. You may not be famous or have a lot of money, but you
will work,” she continued.

Ethnic studies student George Kim assessed the entertainment
industry.

“Either you know someone or you’re not going to get
in,” he said.

In the business world, the state of the economy has played a
more direct role, resulting in at least short-term layoffs.

“I was laid off and so were three of my friends in other
firms, but we all got good severance packages,” said Jeff
Schroeder, a UCLA alumnus. “I got six weeks at full pay and
was working again before the payments stopped.”

This points to a common trend in the recent economy. Companies
are restructuring, seeking to lower their cost while keeping the
flexibility to offer their outgoing employees short-term economic
security.

“At the same time firms are laying people off, they are
also recruiting,” Stahl said.

This high rate of turnover does not leave job seekers in the
best bargaining position.

Recent graduates are at the bottom of the ladder in every
company and tend to be the first to go. While long-time employees
are given the option to quit and receive a generous severance
package or to stay on board, Schroeder said companies are
compensating newcomers without offering them this option.

Given the ease with which he found a new employer, Schroeder was
unperturbed by the pattern of layoffs, but others were more
concerned.

“I don’t think the market is as good as it was last
year in terms of negotiating for benefit packages and
bonuses,” D’Attaray said.

Though prevalent, such skepticism has not completely dampened
what is a generally positive outlook of graduates. With
unemployment below 5 percent, the class of 2001 has cause to be
optimistic ““ for now.

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