Media Highlights

Student jobs, internships abound

by The Gazette   •  

Vanessa Miller, The Gazette

IOWA CITY — When Steven Hensley graduates from the University of Iowa in May with a degree in business analytics and information systems, he won’t be looking for a job.

He already has one. With more than a full semester remaining before the 21-year-old Iowa City native officially earns his degree, Hensley accepted a job offer last week from CNA Insurance in Chicago.

He’s lined up to start in August — nine months from now.

“It’s definitely a relief that I’m ready to go,” Hensley said. “It takes the stress off.”

Hensley landed his post-graduation gig — and two previous paid internships — through the UI “Hire-a-Hawk” program. The program offers a way for employers to connect with UI students and alumni by posting job vacancies to a website. Current and former students can browse the positions and follow up to apply — either independently or through scheduled employer visits and on-campus interviews.

And, right now, the pickings are plenty. The UI Pomerantz Career Center has a record number of job and internships posted on its Hire-a-Hawk site — more than 1,900 compared to the about 1,700 typical for this time of year.

Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa also have online job boards for students. ISU’s “CyHire” program, similar to UI’s Hire-a-Hawk, offers jobs in a broad spectrum of careers and majors.

“Having the resources all here to prepare you for your professional career has been awesome,” Hensley said.

Experts say the abundance of employment and internship options available to Iowa students could be a reflection of a rebounding economy and the result of renewed efforts by the universities to establish relationships with employers.

“We are trying to do a better job of communicating with new employers,” said Angi McKie, marketing and operations director for the UI Pomerantz Career Center. “We are doing more outreach.”

McKie said the university also has seen a trend of late in more on-campus hiring. A larger number of employers have been attending career fairs, she said, and many conduct interviews while on campus for full-time positions and internships.

During the 2013-14 school year, 4,700 students interviewed for jobs or internships on campus, McKie said. About 4,200 did so in the 2012-13 school year, and 4,370 did so in the 2011-12 school year.

The university doesn’t track the number of students who land jobs or internships through its student-hiring program, but the UI post-graduation placement rate for business, education, engineering, liberal arts and sciences, and nursing students — including those pursuing continuing education or not looking for work — was 90 percent for graduates between Summer 2012 and Spring 2013, according to the most recent data available.

The number of ISU students or alumni recruited through on-campus efforts of CyHire was 2,370 in the 2011-12 school year, 3,193 in the 2012-13 year, and 2,943 in the last academic year. Iowa State reports an overall post-graduation placement rate for business, design, engineering, human sciences, liberal arts and sciences, and agriculture and life sciences students of 95 percent.

Placement rates typically are based on student reports six months after graduation. McKie said UI career officials have started asking students how long it’s taking to land a job.

“Anecdotally, I’m hearing about more who have jobs lined up before they graduate,” she said. “A few years ago, that was not the case.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 248,000 in September, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent. The U.S. News & World Report last month reported high school graduations rates are up nationally, more adults or attending college, and the unemployment rate is much lower than in 2011, according to the national campaign Opportunity Nation and Measure of America.

But, according to U.S. News, poverty rates remain unchanged and nearly 1 in 7 people ages 16 to 24 still are labeled “disconnected youth,” stuck between school and work.

McKie said some career paths right now are more in demand than others — like information technology, engineering, and actuarial science. She said beginning to network and gain experience early is helpful is launching a career right out of college.

UI senior Hensley said he can attest to that. He began using the Hire-a-Hawk system as a freshman in 2011 — before he knew his major or career aspirations.

“When I came in, I had no idea what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go,” Hensley said. “So I used ‘Hire a Hawk’ to see what jobs sounded cool and what majors were hiring.”

He arrived at his major based on internships he landed, and Hensley used qualification requirements for jobs he wanted to hone his class schedule.

“You can see what the companies are looking for,” he said. “You can see what you need to do to be a better candidate.”

Read more at The Gazette

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