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College Seniors Hustle to Get Post-Graduation Job Offers

By:
S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Mar 19, 2024

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Despite tough competition for jobs after graduation, some college seniors are snagging jobs by using connections and various tactics, The Wall Street Journal reported.

This year, businesses are recruiting into spring and summer, as opposed to completing their campus recruiting in the fall, according to college career officers interviewed by the Journal.

Companies are expecting to hire about 2 percent fewer graduating seniors this year, according to a survey of more than 250 employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers cited by the Journal. As of February, about 25 percent of college seniors had accepted full-time jobs and were no longer looking for work, according to a new survey by Veris Insights, an analytics and research firm, as opposed to more than a third at the same time last year. 

The Journal noted that because of white-collar job cuts, members of the Class of 2024 are competing with laid-off young hires in technology, consulting and other sectors. 

Nicola Setterdahl, 22, a finance major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, devoted up to 10 hours a week last fall to find a job that would combine her interests in business and sustainability. She contacted people on LinkedIn with interesting work paths, setting up Zoom calls to ask about their careers, and scrolled job postings during classes.

She finally landed an analyst job at Goldman Sachs after four interviews and three months spent submitting applications to an array of employers.

Campus career officers and recruiters told the Journal that they advise graduates not to count on corporate recruiters to reply to their emails or reach out about opportunities, but rather to try other contacts who can make introductions, such as recent graduates the candidates know from Greek life or athletics.

Career coach Yuliya Mykhaylovska advised seniors to look where other new graduates don’t; instead of applying to brand-name companies that get spammed with résumés, they could find those companies’ vendors and apply there, she told the Journal.

Erika Wilson made use of connections to find a job after being rejected for a marketing internship at a wine and beverage company in New Jersey when she was a freshman at the University of Richmond. An employee who reviewed her résumé was impressed with a line in it—“aspiring changemaker”—and connected her with an entrepreneur seeking an intern to work on research and social advocacy. She stayed in touch with the entrepreneur throughout her time in school, and the entrepreneur helped her land a job fundraising for a U.S. Senate candidate in New Jersey.

“It was really empowering to tap on a connection that I made a couple years ago,” she told the Journal.

First impressions also matter. Luke Apenburg, a mechanical engineering major at Cedarville University in Ohio, says he won over future colleagues at General Dynamics last fall by telling them about his summer camp job experiences in the Adirondacks. Explaining his résumé and telling his stories helped to build relationships face-to-face and to land the job, he told the Journal.

Students also hustled last year in their internships to show their commitment to their employers and impress team leaders in the position to hire. Interning with Capital One last summer, Charles French, 22, sought feedback from his manager and learned that he needed to bolster his coding skills in the language SQL. He spent hours practicing every day, and let his manager know about it. After his internship, French got a full-time business analyst offer to begin after he graduates in May from Rice University. 

The internship was key to proving himself, he told the Journal. He noted that the job market is tough, saying that he has friends and classmates with no jobs lined up yet. “I’ve seen some very smart, capable people struggling with finding jobs in this market,” he said.