For Immediate Release
The spring semester is ending at Southwest and the Career Services Department (CSD) is helping graduates prepare to enter the job market. Brenda Williams, director for career services, indicated that the types of job placement opportunities at Southwest for 2009 are pretty consistent with last year's; the difference is there are fewer of them. "Overall, employers are contacting us with a variety of positions to fill, they just have less of them," said Williams.
In December 2008, a Next Student student-loan-blog posted, "The best job prospects for graduates are in the fields of technology and science, where oil and gas industry employers plan to hire eight percent more bachelor degree graduates, and in the fields of medical manufacturing and healthcare, where employers say they will offer positions to 10 percent more associate degree graduates.
What are the high demand career majors at Southwest? According to Williams, employer interest in Southwest's nursing and allied health majors remains strong, and the demand for business, criminal justice, paralegal studies and engineering technology-related majors has held steady.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in March, that since the start of the recession in December 2007, there have been huge job losses in professional and business services, manufacturing and construction. However, health care continued to add jobs over the month.
An overview of the class of 2009 reveals that of the 1,306 students graduating from the more than 100 associate degree and technical certificate programs at Southwest, those with the largest number of graduates are: nursing, business administration, and general studies, with emergency medical technology topping the list with 227 emergency medical technicians – 176 basic and 51 paramedics.
Southwest has had three career fairs so far this school year, averaging about 22 employers each. Williams said typically two to four new vendors participate in Southwest career fairs each semester. She reported that 90 percent of the students who received an associate of applied science degree and/or a technical certificate from Southwest in calendar year 2008 are working in areas related to their major.
Because of the tight economy, Williams says that students' general attitudes and outlooks regarding job opportunities are uncertain, but hopeful. The Southwest CSD is preparing its graduates for the "big hunt" by providing the necessary tools, support and encouragement to succeed. The department is available to all Southwest students and alumni, offering assistance with job search strategies, resume writing and interviewing techniques. It maintains a list of full and part-time job opportunities online at www.southwest.tn.edu/career-services, in addition to coordinating career fairs each semester.
What advice does Williams give students to help them to outshine the competition? "First and foremost, not to be overwhelmed or discouraged by the current dismal economic conditions. The good news is that there are quality jobs out there, but students need to be proactive in order to find them. It is more important than ever to utilize their Career Services Department for assistance in creating a resume, polishing their interview skills and devising a job search plan."
Williams feels that those students who have made it a priority to keep their grade point average high and gain some major-related work experience along the way will have a distinct advantage. She emphasized that the downside for 2009 graduates is the added challenge they face in competing with a large number of individuals who have been downsized or laid off in addition to vying with their peers.
Cutline: Brenda Williams posts job readiness information on the career placement board outside of the CSD.
Cutline: Students eagerly discuss career options with the recruiters during Southwest’s Career Fair on April 14 at the Union Avenue Campus.