Employment forecasters describe a good job market for new graduates, and that means employers sometimes need to do a little work to attract top candidates.
Dan Murphy ’06 recruits UConn students for finance, risk, credit, information technology, and sales at Synchrony Financial, the consumer financial services company based in Stamford.
“The competition for top talent at UConn has definitely increased,” says Murphy, who is vice president for mobile development. “For us, it becomes a matter of explaining how much value we add to career paths, and making sure students can see that.”
By several measures, the job market appears solid. The annual outlook survey of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports employers will hire 5.8 percent more new college graduates than in 2016. And CareerBuilder found that 40 percent of employers will add new full-time employees this year.
James Lowe, assistant vice provost and executive director of the Center for Career Development, says employers look for new hires who not only have technical skills in specific disciplines such as engineering, accounting, or computer science, but who can demonstrate skills in problem solving, oral and written communications, and leadership.
“The larger companies, and it’s even migrating down to the smaller companies, are saying we’re looking for those soft skills, because things are changing so rapidly we don’t know what the job is going to be three years from now,” says Lowe. “Critical thinking skills, good communications skills, all of those things are well developed in all of our students because of UConn’s core curriculum.”
Lisa McGuire, assistant director for corporate partner relations, who connects students and alumni with employers, agrees that a wide range of employers are looking for these skills in new graduates.
“They love to talk with liberal arts students because they’re well rounded and can bring a lot to the table,” she says. “Some, for example, are looking for writers for internal writing, so they talk with journalism and English majors.”
The increased number of employers who participated in career fairs held by UConn’s Center for Career Development earlier this year match the employment forecasts. Career fairs throughout the year drew about 500 employers to Storrs and were attended by about 5,000 students.
Alleya Jenkins ’17 (BUS), an Honors student majoring in business management with a minor in public policy, says using the services of the Center for Career Development helped her identify employers to meet with during the job fair this year.
“I’m interested in both the private and public sectors,” Jenkins says, “and I had the opportunity to talk with employers from both sectors. It was good knowing I had options that matched my various interests.”
Jenkins previously did an internship with the FBI, an experience she prepared for by pursuing practice interviews through the Center for Career Development.
“It’s really helpful knowing what kinds of questions an employer will ask, or just knowing what an employer is looking for in general,” she says. “It gives you so much more confidence when interacting with an employer.”
Corporate employers are looking to hire graduates for jobs in a variety of fields, including those in engineering, technology, sales, marketing, business management, information technology, financial services, tourism, audiovisual technology, health science, banking, architecture and construction, case management, and social services.
“The economy is more robust, our rankings as an institution are increasing, and the Center for Career Development has done a lot to engage employers,” Lowe says. “Our career fair numbers are double what they were four years ago.”
Participating national and international employers who spoke with UConn seniors and graduate students this year included Apple, Boston Scientific, Eli Lilly & Co. Pharmaceuticals, Indeed.com, Pitney Bowes, Robert Half International, Symetra, TEK Systems, and United Technologies.
In addition to hosting job fairs to connect students and employers, the Center for Career Development conducts group presentations for students on preparing for a job search, improving resumes, interviewing skills, networking, and other related career counseling activities throughout the year.
By: Kenneth Best | Story courtesy of UConn Today