With the national jobs report stronger than it has been in more than four years, the class of 2013 are getting into the job market at just the right time. And with San Diego being named one of the “10 Best Cities for New Grads” by Kiplinger, San Diego State University students have a lot going for them.
“I am optimistic about what 2013 grads are facing,” said James Tarbox, SDSU’s director of Career Services. “I am very happy for students graduating this academic year because we are seeing things we have not seen in years, such as increased options for employment, multiple jobs offers and opportunities to negotiate salary.”
Forty-five percent of SDSU students who earned degrees in the spring of 2012 were employed full-time at graduation. Tarbox expects that rate to be as high as 48 percent this year.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers annual salary survey, the average starting salary for the class of 2013 is expected to be $44,928, up 5.3 percent over 2012.
Sandra Williams, associate director of SDSU’s Career Services said to never underestimate the power of being an Aztec. “SDSU alumni want to help other Aztecs, so new grads should make the most of their relationship to the university by attending networking events and alumni functions and even setting up informational interviews with alums working in their field,” she said.
Many 2013 SDSU grads have already secured jobs in their chosen fields.
Karl Bloor, who is graduating with a master’s in geology, will begin working as a geoscientist for Chevron in Houston beginning in June. Chevron actively recruits at SDSU each year, and when they offered Bloor an internship last summer, he knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“There is always a right-place, right-time aspect to every story of success, but you have to put yourself in that right place at the right time,” said Bloor, who credits both the stellar reputation and resources of SDSU’s geological sciences department and his involvement with the SDSU chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists with helping him secure a job.
Tom Rivera, SDSU’s outgoing A.S. vice president of external affairs, is graduating with a B.A. in political science and will start an internship with Senator Barbara Boxer, D-CA, in Washington D.C. this summer. He said his A.S. experience gave him the tools he needed to be ready for this career-launching role.
Journalism major Sarah Kennedy will be starting a job as a weekend producer at TV station KION in Monterey, Calif. She credits her success to the practical experience she gained in the classroom at SDSU, her internship with FOX 5 San Diego and her willingness to relocate to a smaller market to get her career started.
Ryan Conger is a veteran who earned his bachelor of applied science in electrical engineering and will begin working this summer as a consultant for POWER Engineers in San Diego. He found his job through a career fair held on campus and believes his success is due to the collaborative skills he learned from working with his peers and professors at SDSU.
Best jobs for grads
For those still searching for the right opportunity, some industries are more grad friendly than others.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers survey shows the education sector will hire the most new grads nationwide this year, followed by the professional, scientific and technical industries and the healthcare and social assistance industries.
The survey also showed that mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction industries pay the highest starting salaries to recent graduates, followed by the management of companies and enterprises and the construction industry.
Best cities for grads
With more than half of all SDSU grads planning to stay in San Diego after commencement, it’s good news that San Diego was named the 6th best city for new grads based on unemployment rates, average entry-level salaries, cost of living and its active social scene.
The defense industry is San Diego’s number one job creator with an estimated one in four jobs linked to that sector. Other major industries in San Diego include healthcare, green energy and education.
Williams said that many job seekers limit themselves by refusing to consider jobs outside of San Diego. “You can really limit your career if you are not willing to look outside of the region. Sometimes you have to leave home to come back home again,” she said.
Cities that rank higher than San Diego in Kiplinger’s "10 Best Cities for New Grads" survey include Salt Lake City as No. 1 followed by Ann Arbor, Mich., Boulder, Colo., Houston, and Anchorage Alaska.
Other top cities for recent college grads include Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Dallas and Seattle.
Advice for job seekers
"This is a strong market for the prepared student,” said Williams, who stressed that job seekers need to have a plan in place and have all of their career development tools — from their resume to their LinkedIn page — ready to go so they don’t miss any opportunities.
2013 grads who have already found their dream jobs also have advice for those still on the hunt.
Perseverance and persistence pay off,” said Bloor, who also recommends that job seekers do everything they can to get their name out to potential employers, from networking and attending industry events, to getting involved in trade organizations.
Rivera also believes that persistence is key. “Don't be discouraged by rejection; use it to motivate you,” he said. “Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. If you keep at it long enough, something will turn up.”
For Kennedy it’s all about networking. “When I was applying for jobs, I would go on every station's reporter bio page and look to see if I had anything in common with any person who worked there. If they were SDSU graduates or if they were in a sorority, I would email them and ask them to put a good word in for me. I did this at KION, and a reporter dropped my name, and I ended up with a job.”
Conger suggests doing everything you can to make yourself stand out to potential employers. “Many college graduates in a particular major have similar qualifications, GPA, and experience levels. Use your peers, professors, counselors, and attend industry events to become a face attached to that resume and show potential employers that you are willing to go above and beyond to be an asset to their company,” he said.
Resources for grads
SDSU Career Services provides services to graduates for 90 days post-graduation including career counseling, assessment, job postings on Aztec Career Connection and the Career Resource Room.
Throughout the month of June, the Career Center offers Career University workshops for graduating students and alumni.