Archive for Thursday, March 23, 2006

College grads face hot job market

Students already receiving multiple offers

March 23, 2006


Kansas University student Logan Johnson admits he didn't have to do much job searching before getting an offer - months before graduation - for a job that will bring him more than $60,000 a year.

"I really haven't had much trouble," said Logan, a senior in mechanical engineering. "I've had a lot of people come after me."

College graduates are facing one of the rosiest job markets since the dot-com collapse in 2001, according to a report released this week by an employment consulting firm.

Strong job growth, falling unemployment and a report finding that employers plan to hire more new graduates this year are fueling optimism.

The outlook is particularly sunny for those with degrees in engineering, business, computer science, education and health care.

John Challenger, chief executive office of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the Chicago-based consulting firm that released the report, said students should be interviewing early and often and focusing on their job and intern searches - even during spring break.

Kansas University senior Logan Johnson, mechanical engineering student and captain of the Kansas University Formula One SAE race-car team, works Wednesday afternoon on a mill fabricating parts for the car at the School of Engineering. Unlike most college students, Johnson already has a job lined up after graduation, with Occidental Petroleum Corp. in Los Angeles.

Kansas University senior Logan Johnson, mechanical engineering student and captain of the Kansas University Formula One SAE race-car team, works Wednesday afternoon on a mill fabricating parts for the car at the School of Engineering. Unlike most college students, Johnson already has a job lined up after graduation, with Occidental Petroleum Corp. in Los Angeles.

"Many who've done the best have already found those jobs and been interviewing," he said.

Bright outlook

Employers plan to hire 14.5 percent more new graduates than last year, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

And there's more good news. According to the association, many graduates can also expect higher starting salary offers.

Employers are reporting their companies are growing with the economy, said Andrea Koncz, NACE employment information manager.

David Gaston, director of KU's Career Center, said KU sees more employers at career fairs, more job listings, and more on-campus and phone interviews than it has in the past few years.

"Students have a fighting chance now to have a choice rather than settling like they may have in the past," he said.

But, he said, the market isn't as hot as it was in the late 1990s when some companies offered big signing bonuses and some students were snatched up for jobs as early as sophomore year.

Carl Petz, spokesman for the Overland Park-based Black & Veatch engineering firm, which recruits KU students, said the company expected to see a 27 percent increase in its staff over the next three years. The company anticipates hiring 800 to 1,000 new employees this year.

"We have certainly seen an upturn in all of our markets," Petz said.

High paying fields

Highest starting salary offers to new college graduates. 1. Chemical engineering: $55,900. 2. Computer engineering: $54,877. 3. Electrical/electronics and communications engineering: $52,899. 4. Mechanical engineering: $50,672. 5. Computer science: $50,046. 6. Accounting: $45,723. 7. Economics/finance, including banking: $45,191. 8. Civil engineering: $44,999. 9. Business administration /management: $39,850. 10. Marketing/marketing management, including marketing research: $36,260. Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers

And a rosy outlook has companies working hard to get top candidates.

Shelly Arnett, college relations manager for Black & Veatch, said students used to get one or two offers and now it's not uncommon for them to get five or six, with signing bonuses and other perks.

"It's much more competitive out there," she said. Students "still have to work hard. They still have to put their best foot forward."

Landing the job

A rosy outlook doesn't mean all graduates will fare well, Challenger said.

"The market's not so good that there aren't going to be some people who find jobs where they're under-employed," he said.

Challenger said job seekers need to be aggressive.

Gaston, with KU's Career Center, said he viewed the career center like a gym. The more time students put into job searching, the more they get out of it.

"You can't be lazy," he said.

Johnson, who set his plans in September to work for Occidental Petroleum Corp. after graduation, is aiming for a 3.99 grade-point average, which would mean he only had one "B" in his college career.

On Wednesday, while KU's campus was quiet for spring break, he and a few others worked in the shop. He's captain of a KU student team that is building a formula-style racing car that will compete later this year.

Johnson said his grades helped him get noticed by potential employers, but his desire to do the work also made him more employable.

"If you're actually interested in what you're doing, that's the biggest thing," he said. "They can see that right off the bat."

Arnett said the company looked for candidates with strong GPAs, good communications skills and experience working with organizations or clubs.

"We want people who have not just been members of 10 organizations," she said. "We want people who have been active participants in those organizations."


Dani Davey 10 years, 8 months ago

Hot job market for KU students, please. Let's not forget that the biggest school at KU is the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and just try finding a job with any Liberal Arts degree. Hell, I have two and it still took me three months to find anything.

bankboy119 10 years, 8 months ago


I didn't see them saying they were staying in Lawrence. They would be stupid to.

mom_of_three 10 years, 8 months ago

The highest starting salaries list from above is an average.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 10 years, 8 months ago

Dani - I agree. The article should say "College grads (with specialized degrees) face hot job market".

mistergadman 10 years, 8 months ago

Yes, our household has also experienced internet not working. This is the second time this week. We subscribe to the premium service as the regular functioned so poorly. A person in the family works remotely from home in a highly crucial capacity with the main office in KC. They had to miss hrs at work, drive to kc a couple of days ago.....lost money, and hrs at work. Today same thing. The company IS department has consistently noted that the speeds and functioning of Sunflower Broadband is below that of the other employees who use other ISP providers. Often the IP phone with the home system is dysfunctional....very frustrating. IS at the office has wanted us to which to DSL but have resisted as wanted to support the local provider, but there is a point......

Personally, I think that a reduction is service fees is warranted.

Godot 10 years, 8 months ago

We couldn't access the LJW site earlier this morning, but could get to other sites. We have DSL.

LawrenceKSisgreat 10 years, 8 months ago

anyone having problems geeting to any other site beside LJW and SunflowerBB this morning? I cant find a probem reporting number anywhere? I have not been able to get to any other sites since 5:30 am today. A real problem reporting # seperate from the customer support # would be nice.

Bronco7fan 10 years, 8 months ago

interesting....this guy was offered a job that will "bring him more than $60,000 a year." so why does the list of "Highest starting salary offers to new college graduates."....only shows $55,900 as the top pay?? I am in missing something? ( besides this kind of pay. lol)

christie 10 years, 8 months ago

Puleeeeez... I'll give $100.00 to anyone fresh out of school who lands a job at over $40,000 per year.

Accounting Degree starting at $45,000??? LOL not in this town. You may get $8.50 an hour.

Computer Science at $50,000??? Hey kids those jobs are in India now at $12.50 a MONTH.

mom_of_three 10 years, 8 months ago

According to the Kansas Wage Survey, by the Kansas Department of Labor, an accountants median wage is in the range of 44, 600. So it's not 45,000 a year, but it's not 8.5 an hour either

kristyj 10 years, 8 months ago

As a double major liberal arts grad, i can say that we only get recruited by grad schools and the Peace Corps. maybe i should have picked a different major.

mom_of_three 10 years, 8 months ago

As a liberal arts major, you also qualify for lots of sales and insurance jobs. But there isn't a large starting salary for that, either.

ProudestMonkey 10 years, 8 months ago

"Puleeeeez... I'll give $100.00 to anyone fresh out of school who lands a job at over $40,000 per year."

Almost all engineers start at $40k+ a year. Engineers are in high demand...but, of course the Engr. degree is not as easy as your CLAS degree.

mom_of_three 10 years, 8 months ago

Yes, I think Christie would go broke up on the hill.

Confrontation 10 years, 8 months ago

You could knock off at least $10,000 from each of those salaries and that would be your Lawrence salary.

mom_of_three 10 years, 8 months ago

go to the Kansas department of labor, and you can find out the mean and median salaries for those positions in and around Lawrence. It appears Lawrence is more competitive than people think.

local_support 10 years, 8 months ago

I'm about to get a degree in Sociology, who's got my $60K job offer?

Does a minor in philosophy help? ; )

jayhawk120 10 years, 8 months ago

Christie I will take you up on your offer.

I am an engineering student that has accepted a $50K+ job offer with a company in KC. Contact me so I can get that $100.


Harry_Manback 10 years, 8 months ago

In my opinion you don't get a liberal arts degree unless you either:

a)Plan to go to law, grad or med school b)Don't care about having a lucrative career; basically you're happy working for nothing

I think you should do what makes you happy, but as a KU student who's going to graduate in the next year from a professional school, I've had many internship offers and feel very confidant about my ability to find a job. However, most of my friends in liberal arts who aren't going to grad school are very unsure what they'll be doing.

And Christie, I do know some KU students who received $50,000 starting offers in other cities (obviously not Lawrence.)

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