This year, like every other, everyone is scrambling to find a job. In the past it’s been fun to see who can get a good internship and what cool things people are doing over the summer, but as I have considered the process a little more it all seems a little too stressful. I am a senior in Engineering and, though I myself have not dived into the interview process, many of my friends have. As promised companies are lining up to hire, but somehow the whole process doesn’t seem to have the right feeling.
I and my fellow engineering soon-to-be graduates are lucky because unlike many other fields there are plenty of jobs to go around. Especially at a school like Michigan where our reputation, high level
of education coupled with a bottomless well of alumni, mean that few will go hungry for jobs. If we can take this as being true then why is the process still so stressful?
Twice a year, North Campus comes alive with the CAREER FAIR. Tons of companies, mainly large corporations, show up with their fancy displays and HR staff to handle the incoming flood of student hunting for jobs. Promised the opportunity of employment, students dressed in their very best line up (sometimes for hours) to get a chance to talk to a company’s representatives. When they get to the front of the line they do a little dance to try and make their best impression; in response to their efforts they’re told …to apply online. The whole process makes me wonder what the purpose of this career fair is. More often than not, it seems as though they companies are there to advertise themselves, rather than really look for candidates for employment.
If you do manage to get an interview, the process becomes that much more stressful. You have to break through a couple of on-campus grilling sessions, where you are asked to assess your strengths, weaknesses, and answer two, maybe three questions that are supposed to give the representative a perfect indication of how much you have learned in four years. If you get through that, you are doing well, but now you have to find sometime during your schedule to fly out and meet the people who might actually hire you. You sacrifice a few days of school, and still, you may not get the job.
All and all, the process seems a little manipulative and abusive to the student/prospective employee. If these companies are looking to hire the young talent, shouldn’t they be a little more receptive, hospitable and understanding? Furthermore, is creating this hypercompetitive game not detrimental to the group of graduates as a community? Or is this school simply getting our hopes up by promising easy times and and a seat at the top of the job market?
I think the answer is both. These are tough economic time and no one should expect to be given a job on a silver platter (though that won’t stop people like me from hoping). At the same time, I don’t think the atmosphere that the Career Fair generates is healthy for the college environment. One could easily pin the blame on the companies involved or the administration for bombarding students with “opportunities”, but I think it’s easier to tweak our own perception. We are here for an education, so get one and don’t worry about what’s coming next until you are done. If a few companies come to the school, you should check them out but don’t stress over making sure all your feathers are showing. Students are the consumer and though these employers make us jump through hoops for their attention, keep in mind that most of these companies want to higher us. Remembering that may make the game a little easier to play.
By: Matt Friedrichs
(Photo by UM School of Natural Resources under a Creative Commons license)