Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER MATTHEW HOLOWIEKNA
After swapping his usual ensemble of jeans and a sweat jacket for a collared shirt and pants, freshman economics and political science major Shubham Adhikari made his way through his first career fair at Saint Peter’s College. But even if he looked the part of a professional job seeker, Shubham noticed a disappointing trend as he stopped at each table. Either the job was not right for him, or he was not right for the job.
Forty recruiters were at the Annual Spring Career Fair held in the McIntyre Lounge at Saint Peter’s College on March 28. But even with this many options, students like Shubham still found searching for the perfect career opportunity frustrating.
“There are more internships than actual jobs,” he said. “They’re kind of lower producing jobs and training positions.”
Although the unemployment rate in the United States has fallen to 8.3 percent as of February 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the jobs that are becoming available are not necessarily attractive to Saint Peter’s students searching for salaries after graduation.
“We’re looking for interns and volunteers,” Hope Alicea, who has represented the Liberty Science Center at Saint Peter’s College for the past three years, said. One or two students pursue these opportunities at each career fair, she added. But even the internships are unpaid positions.
UPS was seeking applicants for physical jobs including the loading of trucks at an hourly rate of $8.50, according to recruiter Eugenia Heath.
But a lack of desirable high-paying options was not the only difficulty students like Shubham encountered.
“There are less jobs available for freshmen,” he said.
Junior education major Aaron Clemons offered a similar opinion about the career fairs at Saint Peter’s College.
“They’re more helpful for older students,” he remarked. “It’s like, if you’re a freshman, we can’t help you.”
Other freshmen simply could not find opportunities appropriate for their aspirations.
“Being a Bio major, when it came to medical stuff, there wasn’t much,” freshman Jerah Degrandez said after the fair concluded at 2 p.m. The booth set up by Bayonne Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center was seeking only nursing students, she added.
“I found the Liberty Science Center,” freshman Edwin H. Young said. “There’s not many internships. There aren’t much options for physics majors.”
Edwin himself was searching for job experience at the career fair rather than a large salary.
“I’m going to school for basically free,” he said. He will graduate with only about $2000 in debt.
However, according to the Institute for College Access & Success, the average New Jersey college student who graduated in 2010 owed close to $23,792 in student loans.
Edwin’s case thus seems less typical than that of senior Ray Gonzalez, who will owe between $21,000 and $22,000 after he graduates.
But even if paying off this sum would be difficult working an hourly rate job, the organizations at the Annual Spring Career Fair did offer advancement opportunities for those who accepted entry-level positions.
Cablevision was seeking applicants for full-time customer service work at starting rate of $13 an hour, but frequent promotion opportunities are available, according to recruiter Claudia Cruz.
“Cablevision, as a standard, likes to promote from within,” she said.
According to recruiter Eugenia Heath, UPS hosts education-assistance programs and allows entry-level workers to rise into management positions.
However, even Ray Gonzalez, a business management major, was not searching for such opportunities. He hopes to pursue a career in criminal justice, he said.
“Nothing stuck out to me except the NJ State Police. Everything else is kind of ordinary,” Ray remarked. And avoiding the ordinary appeared as important to Saint Peter’s College students as a high salary or as career experience.
Kathy Loveless, a recruiter for Garden State Community Bank, manned her table beside the crowded FBI booth and noticed the flow of student traffic there.
“It’s hard to recruit when I only have one position in the area,” she said. “And everyone wants to join the FBI.”
(Matthew Holowieka is a freshman in CU-205 Intro to News Writing and Reporting)