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Economy Project: Job Outlook For College Graduates

By Sam Baker, KERA Morning Edition Host

Dallas, TX –

As if finally getting that diploma wasn't reason enough to celebrate, job prospects for college graduates are looking up. A new report in May from the National Association of Colleges and Employers said employers planned to hire about 19% more new graduates during the just-ended school year than last. In this KERA Economy segment, 90.1's Sam Baker talked about this with Michael Doty, director of the U-T Dallas Career Center.

Michael Doty: Fortunately at U.T.Dallas, we've had the advantage of the majors and programs that we offer there that t hasn't been that bad a problem over the last couple of years, but this year we're noticing a real increase in job opportunities for most of the students.

Sam Baker: For fields across the board or is it affecting some fields more than others?

Michael: Really private sector-type jobs as opposed to public sector jobs.

Sam: In Texas in particular?

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Michael: Pretty much any engineering program is in demand right now. Finance and accounting, information technology management - those areas are very strong. Economics, geo-spatial type things are fairly strong. The sciences, in general, are being heavily promoted to try to get more students involved in the sciences because the science is still there. And there's so much cross area between science and technology - cross fields - that more people are doing that type of interdisciplinary study.

Sam: Fields least in demand?

Michael: The teaching area. You see all the job cuts in all the ISDs, and that is continuing to be a hardship for all the students who are coming out.

Sam: There's still a high level of competition for each job.

Michael: Correct.

Sam: So how does a student go about making a difference, trying to get a position over somebody else?

Michael: The biggest thing we try to strive for in working with students is developing their communication skills. The students coming out of school today tend to be so technologically advanced with social media that they want to sit around and play with their social media and expect to get a job that way. They need to be out networking, meeting with employers, going to functions, participating in different opportunities. And when you start doing that, then you're making those connections. And you may run across somebody you think you want to job with, they may know somebody that will be able to get you connected to somebody else. And there's obviously different opportunities out there. Another thing students think they have to be doing when they come out of school is that they've already gotta be in their ultimate career. And that's very misleading because they don't need to be in their ultimate career because they really aren't sure what their ultimate career might be. They may need to take stepping stones in order to get there. They may have to take a job that may be somewhat related to what they're studying, but it might be their stepping stone - again that networking opportunity - to get to that next level.

Sam: So flexibility's important.

Michael: Very much so.

Sam: For graduates with education degrees who had planned to be a teacher, give me an example, then, of how this flexibility might apply to them.

Michael: Really, they could be taking any type of a customer service-focused position. And many people don't want to hear they might have to take a customer service-type position because the first thing they think of is the restaurant industry or, maybe, just a department store. And that's not to say those still wouldn't be possibly good opportunities, because their interfacing with people on a regular basis. I've known a lot of (people in) service-type positions who've gone on to do what they wanted to do because of the connections they made while waiting tables in restaurants. So, don't always rule those types of opportunities out, but you're also knowing that's not where you want to be eventually. One of the keys is to show you are continuing to work. One of the hardest groups to of people to get employed today are the ones choosing to remain unemployed or have to remain unemployed for whatever reason. The longer period of time somebody goes unemployed, the more difficult is gets for them to be employed. So, if they're doing something in an area where they'll be able to communicate and use their intellect in some way, they're going to be moving forward.

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