- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2008

From college seniors entering the job market to freshmen calculating what course credits will most appeal to employers, students are focusing on how the economic downturn is going to affect their lives.

The concern does not have to translate into worry or even fear, according to the American University Career Center, which is preaching that early job searching and a polished resume can still get students far, even in the current economic climate.

Bridget O’Connell, the Career Center’s director of outreach and marketing, said that the Career Center urges students who are anxiously watching news of the unfolding financial crisis not to panic and to continue to build their resumes so that they are prepared to compete in an economy that may offer fewer job opportunities.

“The advising is the same in terms of key messages: internships, research,” she said, adding, “The only message that is different is don’t panic and prepare yourself.”

Camille Franklin, director of career development, said, “The essentials of a good job search still apply.”

Ms. O’Connell encouraged students to research the kinds of opportunities available because, while some industries may not be hiring as much, new industries could be emerging from the financial crisis, such as appraising and money-saving energy initiatives.

Freshman public communications major Chelsea O’Neill was at American’s job and internship fair Sept. 24 looking for internship options. She said that she chose her major because of its flexibility. “You can go anywhere with it,” she said.

Ms. O’Neill admitted to being concerned about the current job market, but as a freshman, she is not worried about her employment yet. “Hopefully I’ll get a job. I want to get a job,” she said with a laugh.

For students in American’s Kogod School of Business, however, the financial crisis has more of a direct affect. The school took its annual trip to Wall Street Sept. 10 to Sept. 12 as Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc. stock was falling. The students visited a number of investment banking firms, including Lehman Bros., Legg Mason Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citibank.

Jay Liwanag, director of the Center for Career Development for the business school, said that students were taken to New York to learn more about life on Wall Street, increase interest in careers and validate the career choices of students wishing to end up there.

“It’s something that really supplements their learning,” he said.

According to Mr. Liwanag, the school of business encourages students to pursue their passions but to look at the market realistically. “It’s a tough market, and we’ve never seen this before,” he said.

For students on the trip, seeing Wall Street in crisis was both exciting and ominous.

Ander Echanove, a senior finance major, said, “Once we arrived, everyone pretty much knew what the scenario was.” He said that he knew friends who had worked for Lehman Bros. who had already packed and left the city.

Senior finance and international relations major Andy Gierman said the students saw firsthand employees who knew that their company was in jeopardy and were nervous for their futures. “It made it very real,” she said.

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