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Is the job market for graduating Seniors worse this year?

At the Report, we are still looking for enthusiastic self-starters who are willing to work 110 hours per week.

The physical fitness test. After which we see how our candidates do solving a series of 48 integral calculous problems while holding a live grenade.

These College Seniors Locked In Job Offers. Here’s How They Did It.

Landing a first job after graduation takes unexpected connections, industries and tactics

By Lindsay Ellis, WSJ

March 17, 2024

First, the bad news: College seniors are facing tough competition for jobs after graduation.

Now, some good: Many companies are still hiring. And unlike recent years, when numerous employers wrapped campus hiring in the fall, this year lots of businesses are recruiting into spring and summer, according to college career officers.

College seniors who’ve locked in jobs after graduation say they did so by going above and beyond, tapping unexpected connections, industries and tactics to secure their roles.

That’s a change from years when companies fought each other to snap up campus talent. Companies are expecting to hire about 2% fewer graduating seniors this year, according to a survey of more than 250 employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

As of February, about 25% 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. Last year, more than a third of seniors polled had locked in jobs.

White-collar job cuts have the Class of 2024 competing with laid-off young hires in tech, consulting and other sectors, who have a year or two of experience under their belts.

“It’s so easy to get discouraged,” said Nicola Setterdahl, 22, a finance major from Glen Ellyn, Ill. “When you don’t have your own full-time offer, there’s that nagging voice in the back of your head. Why don’t you have one yet?”

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

Setterdahl spent up to 10 hours each week applying for jobs.

Last fall she devoted up to 10 hours a week to find a job that would combine her interests in business and sustainability. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign senior contacted people on LinkedIn with interesting work paths, setting up Zoom calls to ask about their careers. During classes, she scrolled job postings. At home, she and two roommates sat together on their laptops, submitting applications and hyping each other up before interviews.

Setterdahl submitted her résumé cold to Goldman Sachs in the fall, after an internship with JP Morgan Chase. A month later she got an email asking for an introductory call, and strove to prove her passion for sustainability in her interviews.

When the offer came, “I screamed out loud,” Setterdahl said.

Setterdahl, who took copious notes during her networking coffee chats over Zoom, will graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May.

The first job after college has a lasting impact on earning potential, and higher stakes than previously thought. Roughly half of graduates end up in jobs where their degrees aren’t needed, and most of them stay in similar positions for the next decade, new research shows.

Campus career officers and recruiters are advising grads not to count on corporate recruiters to reply to their emails or reach out about opportunities, partly due to staff trims in many human-resources departments. Instead, they’re urging students to try other contacts who can make introductions, such as recent graduates the candidates know from Greek life or athletics, they say.

Setterdahl said she ‘screamed out loud’ when she got an offer to work at Goldman Sachs.

Another tip: Look where other new graduates don’t, says career coach Yuliya Mykhaylovska, a former entry-level recruiter at venture firm Greylock. Instead of brand-name companies that get spammed with résumés, find those companies’ vendors and apply there, she says.

Random Opportunities

That tactic got Jack Rutstein, 21, his job offer.

When Rutstein started at DePauw University in 2020, he wanted to work in sports management. The communications major took an internship selling group tickets for Indiana Pacers basketball games last year.

Impressed by his hustle, one buyer told Rutstein about his industry, HR technology, where hiring was brisk.

Rutstein applied to HR-tech internships at big and small firms, from Salesforce to Paradox, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based recruiting platform. He interned at Paradox and will join full time after graduation.

“I think I could sell anything,” Rutstein said.

Paradox is still hiring this spring for entry-level roles, said Lauren Kordalski, who leads early-careers hiring there. It’s not hard to explain the company’s hiring software, which uses AI to schedule interviews and answer candidates’ questions, to students.

Kordalski tells them: “The process you’re going through is exactly what we’re trying to improve.”

Tapping Connections

As a freshman, Erika Wilson was rejected for a marketing internship at a wine and beverage company in New Jersey, but a line in her résumé — “aspiring changemaker” — stood out to an employee who reviewed it. That person connected her with an entrepreneur seeking an intern to work on research and social advocacy.

Staying in touch with a contact from her former internship paid off for Erika Wilson, 22.

Wilson, 22, stayed in touch with the entrepreneur throughout her time in school. In December, she graduated a semester early from the University of Richmond and will start at BlackRock as a full-time HR analyst following a summer internship last year.

Between schooling and her new job, the entrepreneur helped Wilson land a job fundraising for Patricia Campos-Medina, a New Jersey candidate for the U.S. Senate.

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

Fast First Impressions

Other college seniors say they’re striving to show they’ll adapt well to the workplace, or passing what recruiters call the “airport test”: If my flight home from a business trip got delayed, would I want to be stuck in the terminal with you?

Luke Apenburg, a mechanical engineering major at Cedarville University in Ohio, says he won over future colleagues at General Dynamics last fall, regaling them with tales of his summer job spent fixing sinks and toilets at a summer camp in the Adirondacks.

Luke Apenburg, 22, found that sharing stories of his summer work experience helped him connect with employers during interviews.

Apenburg, 22, also shared why he’d had to take the camp job: An emergency brain surgery as a fall-semester junior had pulled him out of contention for that summer’s internships. Explaining his résumé and telling these stories helped him build relationships face-to-face and ultimately land the job, he said.

“That goes further than much else,” he said.

Impressing in Internships

Students know that many full-time job offers come from summer internships, and they hustled last year to show their commitment to their employers and impress team leaders in the position to hire.

Many college students, like Charles French, 22, turn their summer internships into full-time jobs.

Seeking to prove himself during his internship with Capital One last summer, Charles French, 22, sought feedback from his manager and learned he needed to bolster his coding skills in the language SQL. He spent hours practicing every day—and let his manager know about the extra effort and payoff.

After his internship, French got an offer to come aboard full time as a business analyst after he graduates in May from Rice University. The internship was key, he says, as a chance to prove himself. Still, he also knows friends and classmates with nothing lined up yet, as companies seem reluctant to make offers.

“I’ve seen some very smart, capable people struggling with finding jobs in this market,” he says.

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