March 17, 1999           

Contact: Bob Bruce, (503) 725-5714

Summer Job Market Favorable for Oregon University Students

PORTLAND - Some are off to warmer climates. But many Oregon college students will stay close to home this spring break to get a jump on the summer job market. And for many of them the timing couldn't be better.

The 1999 summer job market appears highly favorable for Oregon collegians.

"In general, it looks good for just about everybody," says Brad Angle, research employment economist with the State of Oregon. "The unemployment rate is low. It's really a remarkable condition across a variety of industries."

"Opportunities for summer jobs and internships abound," says Mary Cumpston, director of the career center at Portland State University, which currently has more than 540 open jobs in its student employment database.

"Employers are in a buyer's market and they are scrambling for the relatively mature, intelligent and enthusiastic college students as their candidates of choice," adds Katherine Harper, director of career services at Western Oregon University.

"Temporary jobs, no matter what time of year, are the rage with many employers in the '90s and it's an ideal way for college students to gain exposure, perspective and experience with a variety of work setting, job duties and skills."

"Last year was the one of the best we've had in college recruiting" and it looks as if the trend will continue this year, says Thomas Munnerlyn, Oregon State University's director of career services.

Munnerlyn said OSU students seeking permanent, full-time jobs are being "besieged" with employment offers and summer job opportunities usually follow the trend.

Career counselors at all of Oregon's public universities agree. They say summer jobs and internships appear to be available in all fields. Openings exist in engineering, computer science, information systems, sales, marketing, retail, recreation, and banking. Traditional customer service employers, such as camps, resorts, and government agencies, are also queued up for a brisk round of hiring.

"We're seeing quite a wide variety," notes Janet Milloy, career center director at Eastern Oregon University. "There's an increase in internships, many of which are paid internships."

For example, the Bear Creek Corp. of Medford has recently listed 15 paid positions for graduate level internships at Southern Oregon University. The jobs offer opportunities in finance and accounting, business process improvement, garden marketing, marketing finance and horticulture.

"Internships are capturing higher attention, particularly by companies that have managerial training," says Larry Smith, the director of career counseling at the University of Oregon. "Internships allow companies to train people with the way they do business. They also help students clarify their career plans."

Some employers are even reaching down into the sophomore and junior classes with summer jobs and internships hoping to convert them into career employees, observes Joe Holliday, career director at Oregon Institute of Technology, where the Opt for Coop program has increased opportunities for technical students statewide.

One sign of the favorable market for students is growing employer participation in campus job fairs. UO, SOU, WOU and OSU report record sign-ups for recent campus fairs. "Employer registrations for the annual Summer Jobs Fair, the annual Social Services Career Fair and the annual OLAPC Jobs Fair are the highest I've seen," says Harper. At OSU, the Spring Career Fair attracted 103 recruiters. "That's the most we've ever had at a career fair," says Munnerlyn. "We ran out of room. We have to turn some employers away."

Smith says college fairs are growing because both students and potential employers see them as a valuable investment of their time. In fact, the UO now includes a day-after program where employers can actually interview or directly offer jobs to students they meet at their fair booth.

OUS campus counselors are urging students and employers to stay active and aggressive.

Best advice for eager employers?

"Pay the students. Volunteer opportunities are hard to sell," Harper advises.

"Don't wait too much longer to begin listing positions," says PSU's Cumpston. "Contact university career offices. If your positions are hard to fill, enlist your current year-round employees to help recruit your summer hires.

"Ask successful summer interns or employees to go back to the campus in the fall and spread the good news about their experience. A strong reputation is a major boost to building a potential pool for next year."

Campus counselors also recommend that employers participate in career fairs. The UO will hold a special jobs fair for Portland-area businesses on April 1 at the UO's Portland Center, 722 Second Ave.

For students, the best advice is to get started looking soon.

"The hardest part of my job," says Harper, "is seeing the excellent job and internship opportunities that come across my desk and go begging for lack of student readiness. So much competes for the attention and priority of the student's time.

"Unfortunately, if students wait until June to think about summer jobs, it really puts them at a disadvantage."

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