Aspirations on hold
New grads searching for jobs can continue to meet with University career counselors for up to six months after graduation.
The GAA’s Alumni Career Services also
focuses on that life stage, along with career
counselors in specific programs, including
business and journalism. Counselors say it
can be a challenge to keep unemployed
graduates positive and motivated.
“It’s always hard to be rejected,” said
Leigh Babaian, associate director for career
development at the Kenan-Flagler Business
School. “I’m using it as a counseling tool:
‘You can’t blame this on yourself. It’s more
competitive this year. Take it in stride. It’s
going to make you a better person.’ ”
Stiles said he meets weekly with a handful of job-searching graduates, acting as
much as a life coach as a career counselor.
“The folks that were most discouraged
were the ones that had really worked hard
during their senior years,” Stiles said. “The
longer you go at something, it does kind of
beat you down. … I do work more as a
coach to kind of pump them up.”
“It’s a very odd climate knowing so
many people who are unemployed,” James
Stenstrom said. “I’ve seen a bunch of my
friends’ career aspirations put on hold or
changed because of the economic situation.”
Linda Conklin, who directs the GAA’s
service, said the networking that’s worked
so well in recent years must be backed up
with personal contact in this environment.
The recent graduates she’s seen succeed
in the market are ones who have found
ways to present themselves in person to the
people involved in hiring. “You have to
build credibility and trust and stand out
from the crowd,” she said.
Even for those who got jobs, the last
semesters were an ordeal.
Rachel Goldhaber ’09, who graduated
in business administration, now works as an
associate financial analyst for Fannie Mae in
Washington, D.C. — but only after she
spent a lot of time wondering whether
she’d end up in finance.
“I’d say one of the hardest things was
just putting out so many applications and
not hearing back, and getting rejected from
a lot of places,” she said. “The hardest thing
was staying motivated after putting in four
hard years of work.”
Stiles said the graduates he’s seen range
from the highly motivated to some who
just don’t seem to feel pressure.
“I do think people see enough negative
news that they have a tendency to avoid a
difficult job market until the last minute,”
Stiles said. “I think that’s just a darn shame,
but there’s a little bit of human nature.”
Jessica Tou ’09 has had a hard time finding anything fun about her unemployment.
She has been doggedly searching for a job
since January and is living at home and
working in part-time internships. She
would like to have a career in foreign relations or international diplomacy.
“I guess you could say I’d like to be
where I want to be,” said Tou, who graduated with a degree in business administration and a Chinese minor. Parts of her job
search have been “frustrating and demoralizing.” She received a full-time job offer in
the fall, but she’s still pursing other long-term career opportunities.
Job-seeking grads seem to find comfort
in the fact that they’re in good company.
When Robinson was applying for jobs
‘I contacted a lot of people on LinkedIn and joined ifferent groups, and I just started getting e-mails about openings.’ Naveen Goel ’09 (MA)
‘The majority of my friends were just like, “Well, we’re still applying, and we’ll figure it out.” Everybody was discouraged, but they knew that everyone was having a hard time, so it made you feel like you weren’t a complete failure at finding a job.’ Alexa Robinson ’09