UCF working to help graduates find jobs

“In this economy, it’s been really hard for me to find a job,” said Becca Sabando, a recent UCF graduate. “I work as a waitress now at Bubba Gump. But that’s not a career; it’s just a job.”

Despite economic downturn, the National Association of Colleges and Employers has found that things are looking up.

According to recent figures released by NACE, 24 percent of 2010 college graduates have a job waiting for them out of school.

That’s better than 2009’s figure of 20 percent.

From June 1-4, NACE held its annual conference in Orlando, presenting different workshops and keynote speakers for colleges and employers.

UCF was one of the many colleges attending the conference, getting new ideas for career workshops to offer students who struggle to find jobs.

Kathy Rancourt, the coordinator of career education and technology at UCF Career Services, remains positive about the economic outlook and job hunt for recent graduates.

“History has shown that the economy and job market go up and down,” Rancourt said. “It’s down now, but the good news is it’s going to go back up.”

According to NACE’s spring 2010 job outlook update, employers are planning on hiring 5.3 percent more graduates than last year.

This is the first positive outlook for college graduates since the job market crashed in 2008.
UCF Career Services offers many different services for current students and graduates seeking jobs,  both online and in-person workshops for resume building and interview skills.

“We even have an online service that can be used by students and alumni, and it’s all the services that you can get walking in,” said Mayra Hoffman, the coordinator for administration services at UCF Career Services. “We call it our virtual career center.”
Practice interviews are also available where potential employers come on campus to interview and critique the students seeking jobs.

“The most important part of the interview is to sell yourself,” Rancourt said. “Ninety-five percent of graduates stumble through their first two to three interviews.”

The students interview for 30 minutes, and then they are critiqued for another 30 minutes on what they did right and wrong. Students can even opt for their mock interviews to be recorded on tape so they can review their body language.

“I went to a mock interview thing at UCF. They said I did great and that they would have hired me,” said Sabando, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in psychology. “It’s cool they offer all that stuff, but I’m still jobless.”

Because of the poor job market and economy, UCF Career Services tries to help students improve their employability by offering workshops year-round to help gain a professional edge in the hiring process.

In the workshops, they encourage students to remain positive and be open.

“We tell grads that they shouldn’t pigeonhole themselves to only one job that they want,” Rancourt said. “It’s important to be open and have a backup plan.”
That could mean pursuing a different career in a related field or continuing education.

“If I can’t find a job within a year, I figure I’ll just go back to school,” Sabando said. “It’s my only other option.”

The following interview tips are suggested to help during the competitive job search:
Research the employer and position Have questions prepared.  It’s important to approach the interview as a two-way street; it makes it less nerve-wracking.

Understand market conditions. Research the industry and salary norms. Have realistic salary expectations.

Identify your strengths. What have you done in the past, and what have you done well? Talk about it.

If you have a portfolio, make sure that it is relevant, up-to-date information.

Secure three to five references and give your references a copy of your resume too.

Always do a practice interview.

Always follow-up and send thank-you notes 24 hours later.