“I have been looking for a job since I got back to school this fall and have yet to find one,” says 2009 grad Mallory Bradford.
“There’s a lot of anxiety,” says Bradford. “I worked so hard to get where I am. I’m at the U-M. My GPA’s pretty good. I’m in this specialized program”—organizational studies, an interdisciplinary program that’s prepared her to do analysis or research for a large organization.
When the economy tanked last fall, Bradford says, firms visiting Ann Arbor began interviewing a lot fewer people than they usually do. She broadened her search beyond her native Chicago and branched out from corporations to NGOs and nonprofits. She’s emailed at least fifty resumes, plus calling numerous family friends and potential contacts—all, so far, without success.
Bradford is far from alone. The six women with whom she shared a house on Oakland also are graduating this spring—and by mid-April, only one had landed a professional job. Another will go to grad school, and the remaining five, including Bradford, are still looking.
“Unless you lived through the Great Depression, you haven’t begun to see a thing that has approached this,” says Al Cotrone, career services director at the U-M business school. Last year at this time, 234 out of about 325 students graduating with BBAs had been offered jobs, says Cotrone. This year it’s dropped 27 percent, to 170. “The banking industry crisis has affected the undergrads disproportionately,” says Cotrone. The banks that recruited at Michigan last fall interviewed only half as many students as in years past.
Native Ann Arborite Dhruv Menawat was one of the lucky ones—the economics and physics major nabbed a position in sales and trading at JPMorgan Chase. But “it’s a very, very tough year,” says Menawat, a peer counselor at U-M’s career planning office. “So many are looking for jobs.”
Economics major Rebecca Koke got a job with Liberty Mutual in Boston—something she attributes, in part, to spending hours researching the company. But her ten closest friends, she says, have yet to find jobs. Many are now planning on law school instead.
More members of the Class of 2009 are considering public service. U-M has
always been one of the biggest feeders for Teach for America, which places recent grads in “under-resourced” schools for two years. This year, a record 412 students applied for the program—8 percent of the entire senior class. Although Teach for America spokesman Trevor Stutz would rather play up the idealistic aspect, he acknowledges, “I think the economy is certainly having an impact” on the surge in applications.
Teach for America “wasn’t my first thought,” admits Lindy Stevens, a Michigan Daily writer and editor. She’d have preferred a job in journalism—but the media have been hit even harder than the banks. One of eighty U-M grads accepted by Teach for America, Stevens will be teaching in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this fall.