For these college grads, getting a job is just a matter of choice
For Patricia McDonough, a member of the DePaul University Class of 2013, getting a job has been a breeze.
While many college seniors and recent grads struggle to find work in a weak job market, she landed five offers, with salaries ranging up to $75,000 and bonuses ranging up to $10,000.
The 22-year-old majored in finance, making her an elite recruit. Her major is among the most coveted for employers, along with accounting, engineering and computer and information sciences. That is according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers and career services representatives at Chicago area universities.
“I was pretty pleased,” says McDonough, who graduated in March.
She ultimately decided to accept a position as a commercial banking analyst trainee at BMO Harris Bank in Chicago.
McDonough, who studied in the finance honors program, says among her friends in the program who will graduate this year, “pretty much everyone got at least one offer. Most people got more than one.”
At DePaul, job and internship postings for technology jobs are up 40 percent from last year, says Karyn McCoy, DePaul associate director of Employer Relations in the Career Center. Postings for finance positions are up 37 percent, and for accounting, auditing and tax jobs, they’re up 34 percent.
Competition is intense for accounting majors, and increased regulation in the profession is helping drive demand, according to Ernst & Young. The Big Four accounting firm employs 167,000 people globally, including 2,200 in the Chicago area, and has hired 242 graduating students here this year.
Accounting graduates “have a lot of opportunities — the investment banks, consulting firms, are [on campus] along with our main competitors” at other large accounting firms, says Natasha Stough, Midwest Campus Recruiting Leader at Ernst & Young.
The increased competition for finance majors is linked to a stronger economy.
“Slowly the market is improving, so organizations are starting to grow and pay attention again to students on campus,” says Manisha Burman, vice president of talent acquisition at BMO Financial Group.
Computer science majors are the hottest ticket at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says Jaime Velasquez, UIC assistant director, at the Office of Career Services.
“I’ve been working job fairs for 16 years,” he says. “The last time I saw this demand was during the dot.com era. This is something we haven’t seen in years.”
Other high-demand majors are electrical, mechanical and civil engineering, he adds.
“Engineering continues to remain a difficult field for employers to recruit in,” says John Robak, executive vice president at Chicago-based civil and environmental engineering firm Greeley and Hansen.
“It’s competitive on one hand because we want the best and brightest. But on the other hand, there is a shortage of talent, which makes recruitment very, very challenging and continues to keep engineering majors in a good position.”
BMO Harris, which employs nearly 47,000 people globally and hires 10,000 people a year, says 20 to 25 percent of its hires are entry-level positions, making on-campus recruitment a critical talent source.
Working at a company that has a team-oriented environment, tuition reimbursement for continuing education and training opportunities, were among priorities of 21-year-old UIC graduating senior and electrical engineering major Lauren Hernandez.
“It’s nice to have guidance,” she says.
Hernandez accepted a $63,500 job offer at ComEd, where she interned last summer. She initially will work in six different departments for a month each before she is placed in a permanent position. The entry-level job came with a $2,500 sign-on bonus.
Photo by Richard A. Chapman