Uptick in job recruitment could help UC Berkeley grads

Nearly 100 companies and organizations as varied as Amazon.com, Yelp, the Peace Corps and the FBI will be recruiting at the University of California, Berkeley’s “Just in Time” job fair tomorrow (Wednesday, April 21). At least 1,000 graduating seniors are expected to attend.

UC Berkeley’s class of 2010 faces a tough job market, but not as challenging as the previous year’s. A new survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers expect to hire 5.3 percent more new grads this year compared to 2009.

The national outlook reflects the trend observed by the UC Berkeley Career Center’s five-member employer relations team, which is seeing an uptick in recruiting and career fair participation.

“While employers are still being very selective in their hiring for both internships and full-time jobs, they continue to place a high value on a UC Berkeley education and are keeping us as a target school, even in rough economic times,” said Tom Devlin, the Career Center’s director.

Devlin said he’s seeing UC Berkeley students becoming more flexible in their job searches, considering a broad range of entry-level positions, including internships, to get a foot in the door. While seniors may talk about riding out the economic crisis in graduate school, he said, the Career Center has noted only a slight increase in seniors actually applying to graduate school.

Typically at UC Berkeley, two-thirds of students enter the workforce after graduating, one-quarter pursue graduate studies, and the remainder enter the military, the Peace Corps or take a year off to travel or explore other options, according to Devlin.

Among the UC Berkeley seniors looking for jobs is Asnavy Sari, an architecture major who is bracing for a bumpy ride. He recently decided to look for work in the nonprofit affordable housing sector, a less lucrative but hopefully more satisfying career path, he said. Plus, he’s got the Blue and Gold edge.

“It helps that UC Berkeley has a good reputation,” he said. “I trust it’ll work out”

As expected, students are using such social networking sites as Linkedin for job leads. But they should remember that prospective employers, as well as some professional and graduate schools, may also check candidates’ Facebook and MySpace pages to conduct character assessments, said Marty Takimoto, director of marketing and communications for UC Berkeley’s Residential and Student Service Programs.

“Any photographs or messages showing students in an unfavorable or unprofessional light can be detrimental to being hired or getting into grad school,” Takimoto said.

While the job market for MBAs continues to be highly competitive, the campus’s Haas School of Business is seeing some signs of improvement over last year, said Abby Scott, executive director of MBA Career Services at the business school.

Scott said job postings for MBAs are up significantly. For example, this spring, Haas has seen a 55 percent increase in postings for full-time jobs and a 26 percent increase for summer internships. Top hiring firms for MBAs include Deloitte, Apple, McKinsey & Company, Amazon, Del Monte Foods and the Boston Consulting Group, Scott said.

Among Devlin’s tips for job seekers are: focus on your ideal job, but always have a plan B; balance your course work with hands-on experience such as internships, part-time jobs, volunteering, research projects and student group participation, expand your network and take advantage of the Career Center’s resources.