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Feb. 17, 2009

Memo to Seniors: There ARE Jobs Out There

Turn off the news and tune into opportunities, counsels the Smith College Career Development Office.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Daily news reports featuring the nation’s growing unemployment figures have given Smith’s career office a new job: Reassuring seniors that there are still job opportunities.

Stacie Hagenbaugh, director of the Career Development Office (CDO) recently dispatched letters to both seniors and their parents with that message highlighted in bold type.

“Students should not be in the mindset that there aren’t any jobs out there,” said Hagenbaugh. “Many, many opportunities are there for the savvy and diligent job seeker.”

The economic news has fostered some dreary stabs at humor among seniors, according to Christina Noh, an economics and government major from Los Angeles.

“The other day we were all discussing – sarcastically – that we will all be homeless and jobless after graduation,” said Noh, 21. “We’re always hearing about the doom and gloom.”

While job opportunities are available for graduates, according to Hagenbaugh, the current economic climate requires that they may have to be more flexible and give the search more time than students in previous years.

Being flexible may mean applying for a temporary position or answering telephones in an entry-level post, she said. And in fields that are reporting the largest losses, such as the financial field, graduates may be offered an internship instead of a permanent position.

Smith’s alumnae network, with its ability to connect recent graduates to jobs through word-of-mouth referrals, will serve seniors well, said Hagenbaugh.

While online job databases such as and may attract students for their ease of searching jobs and sending résumés, they offer haphazard prospects, she added. The CDO, on the other hand, has more than 10,000 alumnae listed as career mentors.

But if it’s important to know how to be flexible, it’s also important to know when to stop. Flexibility does not necessarily mean scrapping the job search in favor of graduate school, which seems to be the case as graduate schools report a flood of applications.

Of course, students applying to graduate school out of true motivation for additional education should apply, said Hagenbaugh. But, she added, those who are only doing so to avoid looking for a job will find tough competition.

Generally, Smith graduates gravitate toward positions in the fields of human services, the arts, education, health care and media/communications.

If attendance at information sessions is any indicator, the number of applications to service organizations such as Teach for America and Peace Corps – two perennially popular options among Smithies – will also increase this year, noted Hagenbaugh.

Given all of the news coverage about the economy, Noh said she was surprised when two of her friends were offered jobs in the banking industry. Noh has so far had three job interviews.

“It’s exciting that I’ve gotten some invites for interviews because of the way the news is now,” said Noh. “I guess I’m a little relieved.”

Hagenbaugh’s suggestions:

  • Have an idea as to where you plan or want to live after graduation so that you can concentrate your search geographically.
  • Know when you plan to start working. If you intend to take time off after graduation, you may not want to apply for jobs prior to graduation.
  • Use the time you have now to build a strong network. Talk with people who are in your career field to learn about how to break in. Take advantage of the alumnae binders in the CDO to find working alumnae who can be helpful (and want to help Smith students!)
  • Take advantage of spring break and long weekends to do some informational interviews.
  • Keep in mind that many graduates temp and have part-time jobs while continuing job searches – even in a good economy.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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