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Seniors Search for Jobs as the Job Market Booms

Courtesy of Celeste Nieto-AmayaCeleste Nieto-Amaya hasn’t secured a job after graduation yet, but she’s hoping to get into a beginner sales position.

While seniors search for post-graduation jobs amidst a job market boom, Loyola offers job coaching and other resources at its Career Services Office. Although some students aren’t satisfied with the resources, complaining that the job posting site, Handshake, isn’t sufficient and not enough aid was given.

Jon Rosenfield, associate director of career development, advising and education, said this year Career Services created Loyola Launchpad, a Sakai site where students can refine their resumes, prepare for interviews and more.

Apart from coaching and advising, Career Services also leads Loyola’s primary job searching platform, Handshake. On Handshake, employers can contact Loyola to post job openings for their company and interact directly with students through chat functions. 

James Connon, senior associate director and employee relations for Career Services, said that since switching to Handshake a few years ago, the number of job opportunities for students has gone up exponentially.

“It’s well worth students spending the time to get into Handshake,” Connon said. “It’s more opportunities and better opportunities with better companies. It’s not the only place people should look but it’s a great place to start.”

Sof Bongarzone, a senior majoring in fine arts with an emphasis in drawing and painting, said after graduation she plans to secure a tattoo apprenticeship in Chicago. Bongarzone researched various artists to work under all on her own and said Loyola didn’t offer help for her specific field. 

“The thing about Loyola is they never really talk about tattoos,” Bongarzone, 21, said. “It’s not in the art courses at all, it’s not an art form they talk about.”

For Bongarzone, the jobs on Handshake aren’t relevant to her field, so it’s not a useful resource.

For now Bongarzone practices on fake skin and tattooed a baby doll for her capstone project. 

“I just really like the art of it, I like the idea of doing art on the body and kind of carrying that with you instead of on the wall or something like that,” Bongarzone said. 

Rosenfield said advisors with Career Centers can help students find a job that fits their skills and interests, help students understand networking in a less frightening way and give context on career development and the labor market. 

He said a frequent barrier for students is only relying on online applications when most jobs need a bit of networking to get people in the door. 

“It’s scary, it’s new for a lot of folks, and we can coach students through that process and make it seem more friendly,” Rosenfield said. 

Celeste Nieto-Amaya, senior studying international business, said she hasn’t secured a job after graduation yet, but she’s hoping to get into a beginner sales position. 

Nieto-Amaya said she visited Career Services but didn’t gain much. She said they told her to use Handshake, which she was already doing, and wasn’t finding much. 

“They’re helpful to an extent,” Nieto-Amaya, 21, said. “The people there are very nice but they just give you resources, a lot of it is on your own.”

She said it would have been helpful if Loyola had something like mandatory career sessions each year as a check in for students and get them started in the application process earlier. 

Rosenfield didn’t respond if Career Services would start mandatory sessions, but encouraged students to visit the Center every year for more help.

Though Nieto-Amaya said her professors have been helpful with the job search, emailing about new job opportunities and editing resumes. 

“Loyola’s resources aren’t the best and people who need a job have to hussle ten times more because they don’t have that extra hand,” Nieto-Amaya said. 

While transitioning from student to the workforce can be scary, Connon said the job market hasn’t been this good in a long time. Unemployment rate has dropped to 3.5% and at least 400,000 news jobs have opened, according to the Associated Press (AP).

“There’s something interesting that I’m seeing, which I haven’t seen in higher ed before, across industries employers are saying, ‘We aren’t getting enough applicants for jobs,’” Connon said, “So if you’re graduating from college and looking for a job, now is a fantastic time.”

Because there are so many job opportunities, Connon said there’s also been a change in the application process. Typically companies would recruit during September or October and close the application in February. Now, many companies are leaving their applications up throughout the spring months because of an intense need for employees. 

Connon also said there have been major changes in the job market, which were likely accelerated by COVID-19. For example, many recent graduates are now prioritizing quality of life, working less hours and advocating for higher salaries. 

Remote work opportunities vary across companies, Connon said. Some companies are practicing a hybrid method, others give their employees the options and some are eager to get people back in the office. 

For recent graduates though, Connon said it might be worthwhile to explore in person work if given the opportunity to network with co-workers and expand career opportunities. 

“It can help increase how valuable you are to the company,” Connon said. 

Sohini Thota, senior studying computer science, will be working downtown as a data analytics consultant after graduation. She said she’ll mostly work online but has the option to go into the office.  

Thota said the Computer Science Department prepared her for work life, but she didn’t get much from Career Services. 

“I’m a research technician so I took an internship class that basically taught you how to get a job after graduation — which is only for computer sciences,” Thota, 22, said. “Something I really like that the computer science program does is they send out job postings each month in a newsletter.”

While she said she’s grateful the Computer Science is small so she could make connections and get opportunities in her career, Career Services should work to better help students.

“They really put an emphasis on Handshake your freshmen and sophomore year, but they don’t really inform you of all the job postings and the resources at Career Services … just more communication would be the best thing that they can do,” Thota said. “Sometimes I feel like advisors are just, get their quotas in and get their jobs done instead of trying to be helpful in the real world.”

Rosenfield said the Career Services attempted new ways of communicating this year – specifically for Loyola Launchpad – such as posting fliers and having school newsletters include the resources. He was hopeful that after this story, students may be more privy to the resources at hand.

Rosenfield emphasized that Career Services aid doesn’t end after graduation, and encourages former students to continue to come back whenever they need assistance securing a job. He also said the office stays on campus during the summer months, so graduated students can stop by or schedule zoom appointments if they’re continuing their job search in the summer.

“We are one of the free campus resources that are available to alumni on an ongoing basis,” Rosenfield said.

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