Summer employment prospects sunny for students, graduates


Whether it's summer employment to offset the cost of higher learning, or to kick-start a career, prospects look sunny for McMaster students. But for many, the job search process can be mysterious and intimidating.

Many hesitate and put off the inevitable. Career Planning & Employment Centre counsellor Dave Lawson says, “For a lot of people the idea of finding a job can be very intimidating and, therefore, it's easy to keep putting it off. Our job at the centre is to demystify the job search process and give them the skills they need to succeed. It's important for students to realize that landing a job doesn't just happen. You need to know where the job listings are, have a cover letter and professional-looking, up-to-date resume and be able to sell yourself in an interview.”

Lawson stresses the importance of beginning the job search early. “Those who succeed in getting a job plan early. Usually by the start of the second semester, they begin researching companies they would like to work for. Then, during Reading Week, the footwork begins, knocking on doors, sending out resumes, letting everyone know they are looking work. Finding a job is a very social activity. Unfortunately many wait until it is too late.”

The Career Planning & Employment Centre (CPEC) can help. With its Web site listing thousands of jobs, a well-stocked library of business directories and celebrated job-hunt books, the centre provides the essential resources a job seeker will need.

CPEC also offers a wide range of services for its clients. From its workshops, presentations and seminars on job search techniques, resume writing and the art of interviewing, to resume critiquing, and one-on-one counselling, the centre is designed to assist its clients with their employment goals.

Another way CPEC gives students a leg up on the competitive job market is the On-Campus Recruitment (OCR) program. Hundreds of companies come to campus annually to find McMaster graduates to meet their needs.

Essentially, CPEC posts employment opportunities and collects applications on behalf of OCR companies, who then conduct interviews at the University. Students wishing to participate in fall/winter OCR, must be in their final year and must register before CPEC can accept the application for any of the available opportunities. Last year the centre organized over 1,000 interviews.

There is also a summer OCR program that provides opportunities for summer employment. The summer program works in a similar manner to the fall/winter program; however, it is not restricted to final-year students.

The economy is booming and unemployment is at a 14-year low, but who is doing the hiring and what are they looking for?

Not surprisingly, today's employment trend sees an increase in the highly skilled worker. According to Human Resources Development Canada, 50 per cent of industry workers have a university degree. Computers, health and medical, communications and telecommunications are all designated high-growth areas.

Arlene Dosen, employment services co-ordinator at McMaster agrees, noting that the hot areas of student recruitment this year were in information technology, engineering, finance and accounting. There was a strong presence from petro-chemical firms like Imperial Oil. Dofasco and Stelco increased their number of postings from last year. Other employers seeking university graduates were General Electric, Nortel and IBM.