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Turning education into a job
Here are some of the top majors in job placement for business and liberal arts and science majors at KU:
• information systems
• supply chain management
• communication studies
• political science
Who's recruiting Jayhawks
Among the companies recruiting KU students on campus are:
• Perceptive Software
• Koch Industries
• J.P. Morgan
• State Street Corporation
• Ernst & Young
Now that the pomp and circumstance is over, thousands of Kansas University graduates are looking for jobs. This summer's graduates will join an employment market that has improved incrementally from recent years, and improved much from the darkest days of the recession and its aftermath.
While many are landing jobs, and good ones, the job market is still tough for new graduates.
Unemployment for 20 to 24 year olds in May was 11.1 percent, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's still nearly twice the national average for the population as a whole, which was 6.3 percent in May.
But it is an improvement over the unemployment rate for that age group from May of last year, when the number was 13.2 percent.
David Gaston, director of KU's University Career Center, said opportunities for graduates are "progressively but slowly better."
Gaston and career counselors have seen more employers coming to campus to recruit and interview students this year than in years past, he said. That includes many Kansas City area-based companies such as Garmin, Cerner and Perceptive Software.
The Career Center collects data on job placement of KU grads, but numbers won't be culled and released until the fall. Gaston pointed to preliminary data from national sources that indicate offer rates for college graduates have improved, especially for liberal arts majors.
Jennifer Jordan, director of Business Career Services with the KU School of Business, said she and her team have seen a "solid" job market for business graduates, though data from her office is still being collected as well.
Jordan's office has seen roughly 100 more on-campus interviews for business students this past year, with 11 more companies attending the school's career fair.
"I haven't talked to a lot of students who were really striking out," Jordan said. "My sense is the students who are really invested in that process are successful."
Students in programs for accounting, supply chain management and information systems fare especially well in placement, she added.
Along with working internships, new graduates report that networking is critical to landing a job out of school.
Foster Casterline, a business major in information systems from Overland Park, landed a job with Amazon in Seattle this summer. He credits contacts he made through a student association for his major for connecting him to the company and the job.
"It really happened because of networking," he said.
Larry Flanagan, a finance major from Raymore, Mo., also made contacts through a student group, this one for finance majors, that ultimately led to a job. Like Casterline, Flanagan, who this summer will start as a financial analyst for UBS in New York, thanks networking for his job. Still, he said he's noticed a tough job market out there.
"It's not easy to get a job for anyone," he said. "But I think there's definitely things you can do to improve your chances and network your way into it."
Students are also connecting to companies through social media. Maggie Zehren, a business administration major from Olathe, made contacts with Kansas City-based engineering firm Black and Veatch through LinkedIn.
Those contacts eventually led her to a job in the company's human resources department, but only after spending months on the job search while still in school and turning in 30 to 40 applications elsewhere.
"I'm pretty excited," Zehren said, adding, "I won't lie — it's also a relief because I've been looking for a long time. I know people still plugging away."