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Sun Times Feature Story

Good news for college grads

More jobs are available for those who finished up school in 2017

By Larry Blustein
Despite what the national numbers say about the job market, 2017 graduates may have more opportunities than ever before.

As some are quick to look at the new administration and already give them credit for what lies ahead for this group of college graduates that have started to interview for jobs already, you may have to - as they say - “slow your roll.”

If there is any credit that should be given for one of the most optimistic years in quite a while, it has to go to the graduates who are setting the table way in advance, and to the employers, who are not willing to sit on their hands anymore.

April Moreno recently graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers with a major in English and a minor in public relations. The graduate of McArthur High in Hollywood started to put out her resume and work experiences last year at this time.

“I am not going to lie, I received a number of ‘no thank you, but we are not hiring right now’,” she explained. “I also got back some of the ‘when you graduate, look us up’ as well. But the encouraging thing is that in the past five months, I received concrete answers and have three interviews between now and late August.”

While she is working as a waitress at local restaurant, Moreno, 22, knows that the future is a lot brighter for her than the two older siblings that are still trying to find something in their field - even though they have been away from it for five plus years.

“I know that this is a temporary thing, and if I have to relocate, at least I will have the money and not have to borrow additional money from my family,” Moreno explained. “I could teach English if I had to - or work in public relations and use my writing abilities. I am really open to anything that would help get my foot in the door to something I have prepared for.”

Moreno brings up a great point. Look around you and see how many college graduates have actually ended up in what they studied and prepared for. In the economy we have experienced over the past two decades, many have ended up in a different profession.

Aventura resident Richard Rosen is a 33-year-old auto salesman. Over a decade ago, he came out of the University of Florida with a degree in business, but the climate wasn’t right and the economy was in flux, so many companies were not hiring.

“When I got this position, I was still looking around for something more related to what I had prepared myself for,” Rosen explained. “But when you see the kind of money you can bring in - and getting married and having two children - it’s tough to take less when things are costing more.”

This year's college graduates had an extra reason to throw their caps in the air. Employers say they plan to hire more recent college graduates this year than in 2016. More have stated that finding the right fit is not easy, so when you come across a graduate that gets along with everyone in the office - and does his/her job better than anyone, you want to lock them in.

While employers are looking to hire candidates across various educational backgrounds, some majors stand out more than others. Employers hiring recent college graduates this year stated that there were more areas that had a need.

Being a Business major may have paid off. Along with Engineering and the always popular and much needed Computer and Information Sciences, it is the one degree that is holding the most weight.

Colin Williams has operated his import/export business in Dania Beach for 11 years. During that time, he has hired over 20 college graduates to facilitate his growing business. He found that those with a business degree, whether they knew his specialty or not, worked out better - and still do.

“When you have a degree in Business, you have more than a basic knowledge of what it is to operate one,” he said. “I hire people who come in with that business sense. I can teach them product, but they already know how to move that product, and that has been huge for us.”

While Williams is full for this year, he always contacts colleges throughout South Florida to let them know what the company has available, and the results have been positive.

In addition to those much-needed fields, other jobs that should increase hiring includes: Communications, Math and Statistics, Construction, the always popular and needed Health Professionals, Science Technologies,
Architecture, Communication and Journalism, and teaching degrees as well.

As for colleges, they—as many have already done—should continue to focus on demonstrating program outcomes. If their students pursue business or engineering, for example, they should know they are earning a top-flight degree, as determined by employer demand.

And both students and colleges should take this opportunity to remember that balancing their tech studies with a dose of the soft skills (such as problem-solving and oral communication) will help them become the well-rounded, multi-purpose employee that organizations so desperately need. Engineering is great. But don’t leave your people skills behind.