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- Bob Evans restaurant in Cape Girardeau among chain's 21 closings (04/26/16)9
- Missouri House votes to allow concealed weapons without permits (04/28/16)7
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- Senator introduces bill for I-57 that would connect Sikeston with Little Rock (04/28/16)4
- Law firm requests information about Cape's traffic cameras (04/25/16)2
- Local lawmakers split over failed medical marijuana bill; voters may have a say (04/26/16)19
- Local company makes eco-friendly kitty litter that cuts cat-box smell (04/25/16)
- Man accused of pointing BB gun at Chaffee resident (04/26/16)2
More than 800 graduate from SEMO, enter tougher job market
The mood was celebratory at Southeast Missouri State University's commencement Saturday, but graduates acknowledged they may face a tough reality tomorrow.
For many, the weaker economy has thrown a temporary wrench in their postgraduation plans, presenting them with uncertain futures and challenges getting jobs.
Some graduates are having to settle for positions less than their ideal. Others are faced with having to relocate to find an opening. Still others have opted to continue their education, hoping the job market will improve by the time they are done.
"The reality is that they're not only competing against recent graduates, but they're competing against people with years of experience that may have been laid off. The market's tough; I'm not going to sugarcoat it," said Dr. Leon Book, Southeast's director of student transitions and first-year experiences.
But the career expert counsels students that finding a job is not impossible if they have a strategy. He tells students they must expand their horizons and potentially alter their idea of a first-time job.
"Maybe it's not the job you envisioned when you declared that major, but it's a place to work, pay your bills, and then use that entry-level position to secure a better job when the economic conditions improve," he said.
Graduate Christine Bond, an interior design major, plans to continue her job as an assistant manager at a shoe store until an interior design job becomes available.
Her friend, Amanda Walter, is still searching for a job. Her strategy is to look on the Internet for positions, consider larger cities and "take the first job you get."
Until recently Missouri performed better than the nation when it came to job growth. But in November, the state lost 10,000 jobs while the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent.
"I have no clue what I'll do. I've been looking around St. Louis for jobs, and there doesn't seem to be any," said Kyle Raddatz, who received a master's degree in international business Saturday. "I've started looking for jobs in other states now."
Job-seekers will have to wow potential employers, Book said. That includes personalizing cover letters and resumes for the position and standing out in interviews. And once an entry-level position is secured, the employee will "really have to bust their hump" to be indispensable, he said.
Each student at Southeast is required to demonstrate a series of career proficiencies before graduating, including meeting with a career adviser and, as a junior, simulating applying for a job. The university also employs a St. Louis career specialist and held its first career fair for liberal arts degrees this year.
Noreen Adair, knowing the market she was confronted with, started looking for jobs sooner than originally planned. She landed a job at a law office after searching the newspaper for open positions.
General studies major Kyle Holley became concerned when he called a temp agency in his home state of Kentucky and found there were no openings. He plans to become alternatively certified to teach and has a job lined up in the fall. Until then, he plans to start pursuing a master's degree in business administration.
"In terms of what these graduates are going to find in January, who knows? But we have taught students to be strategic and to use their critical thinking skills and abilities to succeed on their own," Book said.
About 815 students walked across the Show Me Center stage Saturday. Federal Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr. gave the commencement speech, focusing on his time as a child growing up near the campus of Southeast. He quoted Romans 12:4-8, saying each person has their own function but that it is important to work together and use individual gifts to the fullest.