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CBE joins with Career Services to offer job search tips during tough economic times



Donna Goldfeder urged students not to become discouraged by negative economic news.

The College of Business and Economics and the Office of Career Services have a clear message for CBE students worried about finding jobs in a struggling economy:

Be aggressive and be flexible. Network. Take advantage of Lehigh’s resources and professors’ office hours.

And take with a grain of salt the gloom-and-doom message of many news reports.

“There are jobs out there and there are industries hiring,” CBE dean Paul Brown told students Thursday at a town meeting titled “Good Jobs in Tough Times.”

“You can get these jobs,” Brown said. “You may have to take a different route to do so. We are here to serve as a support and to help you navigate the downturning economy.”

Donna Goldfeder, director of career services, urged students not to become discouraged by negative economic news. A year ago, she said, 554 job openings were posted to the Lehigh University Career Information Exchange, or LUCIE. Today, 603 openings are posted to the online bulletin board.

“Obviously a large number of employers think they are going to be able to hire,” said Goldfeder. “A lot of these employers are visiting Lehigh. We can’t find enough room to put them.”

About 75 percent of CBE students find jobs through LUCIE, said Goldfeder, and the remainder through networking. About 99 percent of CBE students find employment, or enroll in graduate school, within six months of graduation.

In response to a student’s question, Goldfeder said it was still early to have received a job offer.

“Firms have not yet had a chance to do second-round interviews,” she said. “Also, the companies interviewing now are mostly larger firms that can better predict how many people they will need next year. Smaller firms will go for just-in-time hiring, adding people closer to the date when they actually need them.”

The career services office will hold a first-ever career fair for just-in-time hiring on March 17, Goldfeder said.

The one-hour town meeting on Thursday drew about 50 juniors, seniors and graduate students, many of them finance majors. Several dozen CBE faculty from the departments of economics, finance, management and accounting also attended, along with officials from the career services office.

The professors and administrators advised job-seeking students to:

• Tap into Lehigh’s vast network of alumni

• Pursue externships and internships

• Consider job opportunities in different fields or geographical areas from their preferred fields and areas

• Take advantage of online resources

• Educate themselves about the current financial crisis

• Consider graduate school.

One useful web site to join, said Catherine Ridings, associate professor of management and director of Lehigh’s business information systems program, is Getting a Job in Tough Times, a Facebook site open to members of the Lehigh network. The site helps students explore employment outside Wall Street by posting employer events, information on job availability and announcements of upcoming town hall meetings and speeches by alumni. The site now has 63 members, Ridings said.

Kenneth Sinclair, professor of accounting, urged students to be aggressive not just in pursuing employers but also in contacting faculty and staff. Among other things, he said, professors can link students with alumni in the corporate world who are hiring.

Brown told students to stay informed on the course of the economy. The CBE web site devotes a page to “The Financial Crisis” that contains information about the expertise of faculty members, lists upcoming events and links visitors to articles and interviews with faculty and alumni.

Ayana Wilcher, assistant director of career services, said her office helps undergraduate students create their own externships, or job-shadowing opportunities. Externships can lead to paid internships and ultimately to job offers.

Robert Kuchta, professor of practice and director of the business minor program, said students should consider taking jobs with small companies, where, by playing a variety of roles, they can gain valuable experience and move on to investment, consulting or commercial banking, and even to Wall Street. Students should also consider working in the Lehigh Valley, he said.

Goldfeder told students that attention to the basics is even more important in tough economical times.

“Make sure your resume, portfolio and cover letter are absolutely perfect,” said Goldfeder. “Study the company you’re interviewing with. Study its competitors. Sell yourself. Tell the company what your strengths are and how you can add value.”

Goldfeder also urged students to visit the career services library on the fourth floor of the Rauch Business Center and speak with Maggie Golden, who oversees LUCAN (the Lehigh University Career Advisory Network), a group of more than 26,000 alumni volunteers.

After students fill out a request card indicating their major, desired job and preferred geographical area, Golden links them with professionals in their field who offer career advice and networking tips.

“There are alumni all over the U.S. who are waiting to help you with career advice,” Goldfeder said.

--Kurt Pfitzer


Posted on Thursday, October 16, 2008

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