Officials expect the District unemployment rate to continue rising in the coming months, providing little relief for the AU class of 2009 as they struggle to find jobs.
The District unemployment rate showed signs of stability at 9.9 percent in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Sue Gordon, the AU Career Center’s director of career development, said the continuing recession has been hindering the job search for many recent AU graduates. It was a bit harder last year to find a job than it has been in previous years, and the process is even more difficult this year, Gordon said. However, many students are still managing to get hired.
“Students who dedicate themselves to a thorough job search - spending a few hours each day, networking and reaching out, tend to have more success,” Gordon said in an e-mail.
Students may have less trouble if they look for jobs in the health care industry or the federal government, especially as federal contractors or consultants, as these industries are still strong, Gordon said.
Laura Fenwick, a 2009 graduate of AU’s School of International Service, said she has not been hired yet, though she has been looking for a job in the non-profit sector since graduation. She said that while she had expected it to take a while, the search can still be somewhat discouraging.
Fenwick said her job-hunting strategy is to take advantage of her networks.
“I’ve been reaching out to lots of contacts,” she said in an e-mail. “It’s a lot easier to get an interview if you know someone than it is if you send a cold application.”
Graduates also become more marketable if they display initiative, a positive attitude and skills such as HTML proficiency and the ability to use office software, according to Gordon. Flexibility can also pay off, she said.
“[Students] should be open-minded and willing to compromise on the ideal job or employer,” Gordon said.
Erin Lauer, a 2009 graduate from SIS, said she was very worried about finding a job when she first began applying in March. However, she recently accepted a position at the Small Enterprise Education and Promotion Network, an organization dealing with microfinance and microenterprise in international development.
Lauer said she got lucky in finding an entry-level job in her field of interest.
Job-hunting will likely be difficult for next year’s graduates as well, according to Gordon. While there are signs that the economy has hit bottom and will soon begin to improve, employment tends to lag behind a recession by a full year, she said.
Robert Lerman, an economics professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he agrees that the country’s unemployment will take longer to stabilize than the economy as a whole.
“Unemployment is likely to rise a bit more,” Lerman said. “I believe by early next year unemployment will stop rising and begin to decline.”
Gordon recommends that students and graduates use the Career Center as a resource while the economy’s future is uncertain.
AU graduates can visit their career adviser and participate in Career Center events for up to one year after their graduation date, Gordon said. After a year, each alumnus can see the alumni career advisor up to three times.
Lauer’s advice is to apply for multiple jobs at once and stop worrying.
“For graduates still trying to find a job: don’t stress out,” she said. “You’ll find a job.”