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Sun Times Feature Story

Job Market Is Not

The Most Promising

By Larry Blustein
Back on June 2, Andi Solomon walked across the stage at the University of Central Florida, received her diploma as friends and family members applauded.

That night, there were parties, a dinner with family and friends and a celebration, proclaiming that she had completed her four year undergraduate degree in business.

Returning to her home in Hallandale Beach last week, Solomon, who had sent out letters to companies nationally - and even did an internship with an insurance company after her junior year - she was down and out.

“The one thing that I said to myself when I left here four years ago is that I will have a job when I graduate,” Solomon said. “I felt that after I did the insurance company internship last summer was the key. I did everything in my power to impress, hoping that just one of the many people I worked with would recommend me for a position.”

Like so many college graduates, Solomon was slapped with a dose of reality that just about everyone faces. The job market is tight and a temporary plan needs to be in place.

While colleges can teach and instruct - and even point you in directions where the jobs may be - they cannot force the market to be better. That’s where college graduates have always learned to be flexible and creative.

Mike Seltzer of Hollywood graduated from college in 2008. In the past 10 years, his teaching degree from FIU has never been used - and while many challenge the fact that going to school and majoring in something is often hollow - Seltzer disagrees. He insists that the skills and organization he learned has helped him in his position with a communications firm.

“There is no doubt that if I didn’t go to college and earn my degree, I would never have the position I do today,” he pointed out. “Even though I could see the writing on the wall - where the teaching profession was headed - I knew that I was prepared to get an entry level position and grow, like I have. It’s all about skills and what you can learn in those four college years that will be extremely beneficial.”

As many have gravitated toward technical schools and other educational centers that will provide that knowledge to earn a living and do quite well in life, attaining a position in management will never come without at least a four year degree - if not a masters as well.

Many analysts would love to come up with a bright, immediate economic future, that may not be the truth here in 2018 - for those recent graduates trying to crack the competitive job market.

With the shutdown of Internet startups and a slowdown in the economy, a glut of people with experience in high-tech industries are competing for available jobs, leaving fewer opportunities for recent graduates.

As a result, recruiters came out to campus job fairs with fewer jobs, and some colleges cracked down on students who weren’t taking the situation seriously.

“The crazy thing about the job market is, it’s really a year to year thing,” said Ellie Weintraub, a longtime job recruiter, who has helped to place students at jobs since 1986. “Last year, you could have had a degree in low demand, a lousy grade-point average and average skills, and still got a job."

As many 2018 graduates seek alternatives, such as going back to school for a higher - or different degree - or take a job doing anything to pay bills and take the burden off their families - there are some who believe that what’s going on is no cause for dark clouds and panic.

Career counselors say some are so confident about the prospects of easily landing a job, they aren't even bothering to meet with recruiters.

"They should be worried," Weintraub said. “They may not realize it, but there are hiring freezes and cutbacks all over. There have been many schools - prestigious ones - where so few students showed up for their interviews.”

Some of that misguided optimism may be coming from two and three years ago - when jobs were out there - and many older classmates had no trouble landing jobs. In addition, many believe that 21- and 22-year-olds have no idea of what it means to seek work during slow economic times.

As will be the case every year - some graduates will get lucky and find something they had dream of doing - while others will create new dreams and goals to compete in a job market that will never be predictable or stable.