Spring 1997 College Grads Find Beter Job Outlook

Published: April 1, 1997

Class of 1997 college grads will find a better job market this spring than in recent years, but competition continues to be stiff, according to Gordon Gray, University of Colorado at Boulder Career Services director.

“I tell ’97 grads their sense of timing is wonderful. The job market is better than in each of the previous five years,” said Gray.

On-campus interviews by employers are up 20 percent this spring, and employer participation in campus job fairs and career days also is up. Much of the employer interest is in students with computer skills, including computer science, electrical engineering, computer engineering and information systems.

“These students are head and shoulders above the rest in employability and in starting salaries. They are being recruited much like a professional athlete,” said Gray. “For them it’s a seller’s market.”

Jobs in Colorado are not expanding at the rate of some U.S. regions, but the growth still is economically healthy. In Colorado most growth is in the high-tech fields of computer software design and systems development.

Students getting bachelor’s degrees in the liberal arts and sciences need not despair. Those with experience in computers -- whether a music major or business marketing major -- will be in a good position so long as they have taken advantage of internships and summer and part-time work experience related to their career goals.

Employers are looking for grads with excellent skills in interpersonal relationships, verbal and written communication, problem solving and analytical thinking. These skills aren’t limited to a specific field of study, but can be mastered by anyone. “But for these grads it will be a buyer’s market -- the student will have to convince the prospective employer of his or her skills.”

And in other fields:

• The job outlook for teachers is better now than in the last five to seven years. • Openings will be available in marketing for energy companies and environmental cleanup.

• Among the fastest growing sectors is home health care for the elderly.

• Gray’s own field of career counseling and career analysis also is growing.

“These days companies won’t help an employee with career development,” he noted. “It’s up to the individual to be more active in managing their careers and marketing themselves.”

How can a student gain the edge in the face of stiff competition for jobs? Gray has this advice:

• Start with a real understanding of your own personal interest and skills. “In the words of Socrates, ‘Know thyself.’”

• Be aware of supply and demand in the job market. “Don’t expect to find a job as cruise director in Wyoming.”

• Career preparation is vital. “While in school take advantage of internships, part-time employment and experiential education, especially in the field you want to enter.”

• If you follow your passion in choosing a career you will make a greater contribution to society.

“Hands down, there is more competition in the job market these days. It takes more effort to find a job,” said Gray. “The vast majority of an individual’s adult life is in this thing called ‘work,’ so you need to make it fun by choosing something that excites you.”