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Graduates ‘weather the storm’

In the midst of a bleak economy and a tough job market, some graduates from the College of Technology have something to smile about-employment.

On graduation day [May 9], Barry Piersol, assistant to the dean and director of co-ops in the College of Technology, conducted his per-semester survey of graduates in his college and found that, of 75 student respondents, about 48.1 percent of them had a job offer and would begin working in the next few weeks.

‘I have this little survey that I give to them … prior to graduation when we’re over in the business building,’ Piersol said. ‘I tell them it’s their last exam.’

As for the rest of the students, 12 percent reported they would continue to work full-time jobs they held during the school year; 13.3 percent said they were going to graduate school; and 26.6 percent said they were still on the job hunt.

‘I would put these percentages up against any other college on campus,’ said Piersol. ‘I was bummed out at graduation when I watched the news Saturday night and all they did was talk about how poor the job market was.’

The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ ‘2009 Student Survey’ found that 19.7 percent of this year’s graduates who applied for a job actually landed one, according to a NACE press release. NACE polled students about their career plans and job search between February 19 and April 30 and received responses from over 35,000 students from over 840 American colleges and universities. More than 16,500 of those students were graduating seniors.

Piersol credits part of the success of the technology graduates to the college’s requirement of three co-ops per student.

‘Since 1977, I’ve seen the economy go up and down like it is right now. We have always managed to weather the storm,’ he said. ‘Now what we have to do as a support staff, as a support service to our students is to work harder and smarter with them to find employment.’

Piersol worked with May graduate Benjamin Yates to help him secure a job with Western Summit Constructors, Inc., an environmental contractor that builds water and wastewater facilities and is based in Denver, Colo.

Yates co-oped with Western Summit and is working for the company in Winston-Salem, N.C. He said he is working with four other University alumni and two University interns.

‘Western Summit does a lot of recruiting out of Bowling Green, and they’re always at Bowling Green looking for students,’ Yates said.

Yates said Piersol came to visit him while he was completing a co-op for a residential company and recommended that he try something different.

‘I felt that [Yates’s] work ethic and everything was a good fit for Western’s,’ Piersol said. ‘I really strongly encouraged him to get over to the general session with [Western Summit] and meet the people and get going on this thing.’

Yates said he was lucky to get his job, considering the economy.

‘Take advantage of the co-ops that are available – it opens a lot of doors,’ said Yates, sharing his advice for students. ‘Meet as many people as you can in those co-ops.’

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