Shopping in the job market

The first post-graduate job for senior Brian Fernandez came after several grueling interviews, but he said it would not have been possible without one factor – connections.

“Applying to college is a fair process,” said Fernandez, who will soon start a job at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, a global public relations agency. “But here, if you don’t network, you don’t have a chance.”

Fernandez, a graduating senior majoring in marketing, secured a job at Ogilvy through a GW alumnus who works at the company as well as through several rounds of interviews. Ogilvy represents companies such as IBM, Mattel and Coca-Cola. Fernandez will serve as a first-year associate and will rotate through the company’s various departments to gain experience.

Many students said they use the GW Career Center in the quest for their first job out of college. Career Center Executive Director Marva Gumbs Jennings said the job market is strong this year. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported in mid-April that employers plan to hire almost 20 percent more college graduates this year than they did last year.

Fernandez said the Career Center was not useful for him because it does not invite many marketing or advertising companies to recruit students on campus.

While Fernandez landed a job without help from the Career Center, a Career Center survey of graduates from past years found that 69 percent of graduating students use their services.

“We’re open year-round to work with students,” Gumbs Jennings said.

Available services include a job search “boot camp” at the end of April, hosting interviews for students, one-on-one advising, a career resources room and a new program called “Find the Right Experience and Employment.” The program offers outlines organized by year that suggest what strategies students should turn to at what times in order to achieve their career goals.

Having contacts or utilizing the Career Center does not guarantee a student will secure a job before May. Senior David Boxer, an International Affairs major, has been using both techniques in his job search but has not seen much success.

“(The Career Center) has been helpful in putting me in contact with organizations,” Boxer said.

Boxer said he believes the job market is good for graduating seniors this year but added that he was not confident many would get jobs directly relevant to their majors. According to the Career Center’s surveys, about 40 percent of seniors get jobs not related to their majors.

Biology major Adam Carpenter, a senior, is trying to avoid being part of that 40 percent. He will soon begin part-time graduate school at Johns Hopkins University and plans to look for a job in the field of environmental science.

“Sciences aren’t advertised very thoroughly,” Carpenter said.

Theresa Chu, a career advisor at, described the job market this year as “very exciting.” In a survey the company sent to employers, 79 percent said they were hiring college graduates, up from 70 percent last year, she said.

“It is looking like a good landscape regardless of the field,” Chu said, adding that it is up to graduates to leverage their experience

She said academics, research opportunities, volunteer work and club leadership can be leveraged into real-world experience.

One of the most important things for graduates looking for a job is to do research, Chu said. That is, job seekers should learn more about the company. Not just the nuts and bolts, she said, but about the company’s environment and style.

Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed by GW’s Career Center said they used an internship position they held while at GW as a resource in their job search. Next year this pool of respondents include senior Erin Reilly.

Reilly, a journalism major, has already started working at WTOP, the only all-news radio station in the D.C. She started working there as an intern the summer of her sophomore year.

Because of its status as an award-winning station, Reilly said her job placement was not typical.

“Normally people don’t get hired right (out of school),” Reilly said. “I was kind of the exception to the rule.”

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