By Emily Landgraf
A former marketing and theater dual major stumbled upon a job soon after graduating in May 2009 that she refers to as a “gem.” But not everyone has been so lucky.
Kim Vogel works at Roth Kafe USA, a company that produces and distributes cheese.
“It’s a really good thing to get into food because people are always going to need food,” she said. “It’s not something I would have ever thought about before I went and interviewed.”
Vogel works in sales, supporting the entire Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region of the food service division of the company, as well as serving as a market specialist and in the customer service department.
“I interviewed in May and June [for Roth Kafe USA] and got the job [in] July, so it was a really quick process for me,” Vogel said.
In the current job market, college graduates across the country are feeling the pressure to find employment.
“The jobless rate among college graduates has more than doubled from a year ago to 4.3 percent,” according to an April article on CNBC.com. “Almost two million college graduates are unemployed.”
New Jersey’s unemployment rate reached 9.7 percent in August and the state has lost 155,770 jobs since December 2007, according to an article on NJ.com.
The search for employment has been a mixed experience for recent Rider graduates. However, whether they found a job or not, these students know how tough it can be to get a foot in the door.
Christian Arenas, a May 2009 graduate who majored in biology, is one student who is having some difficulty finding a job. He said that getting yourself out there as soon as possible is the best idea.
“Send your résumé out to everyone because you never know who will get back to you,” he said.
Arenas was not looking to start working right after graduation, but he began applying soon after. He is thankful now that he did.
“Once you get out of college, start applying for jobs even if you’re not looking for one,” he said. “It’s going to take people a while to get back to you.”
Jeff Frankel, a 2008 Rider graduate, had to wait about six months before he was hired.
“I sent out over 100 résumés,” he said. “Out of those 100 résumés or so, I got three interviews.”
Frankel majored in journalism and is currently employed by Bloomfield Life, a newspaper in Essex County. Despite having completed an internship at The Trentonian, he had difficulty landing steady employment.
“Start looking as soon as possible,” Frankel said. “Who you meet now could be your future employer.”
Sam Cicero and Andrew Kaspereen — both May 2009 graduates — feel particularly lucky to have jobs.
Cicero majored in history and secondary education and now teaches at a high school in South Belmar. Cicero likes his job and is thankful for his experience at Rider.
“Student teaching prepared me probably the most,” he said. “Also, in sophomore year, we talked a lot about interviewing and building portfolios — things that would make us look good to employers.”
Kaspereen, an English and secondary education major, also had positive things to say about his time at Rider.
“The reputation it has for its education program opened a lot of doors for me that wouldn’t have been open otherwise,” he said.
Cicero and Kaspereen got jobs within two to three months after graduation. Both had advice for current students.
“Start looking,” said Cicero. “Look everywhere you can. Build connections.”
According to Kaspereen, finding a job is a matter of being patient.
“The job market is awful,” Kaspereen said. “You might have to step outside of your major; you might not. It’s just important to get a job anywhere.”
Dean of Education Dr. Sharon Sherman believes that her department’s reputation helps students get jobs.
“Rider students tend to get jobs because the [education] program has a great reputation,” she said.
Sherman also urged students to take advantage of the opportunities that Career Services offer.
Dean of Students Anthony Campbell discussed the importance of internships and general experience.
“Make sure that you have experience — internships, volunteer work, co-ops,” he said. “Those experiences tend to be extended interviews, and they also build your résumé.”
Campbell stressed the importance of making connections that will help you stand out in order to find employment after graduation.
“Work with the alumni network and interview people who are in your degree field so that when you have an interview later on for a job, you have information that will make you stand out for that job,” he said.
Unfortunately, some students weren’t as lucky when it came to finding a job they enjoy. Marie Baker, a May 2009 graduate who majored in journalism, is still looking for a “real job,” so she is taking what she can get.
“I’ll start working three shifts a week handing out cans of Monster Energy Drink next week,” she said.
Baker’s goal is to find a job that will help her pay her monthly expenses.
“Even part-time work as a waitress would be awesome right now,” she said. “Then, to find any salary job. Really, anything. Then to find a job that I’ll actually enjoy doing.”
Baker is hoping someday to get a job in the music industry, “preferably in booking, touring or production.”
Some students have chosen graduate school instead. May 2009 graduate Josh Chave, current Resident Director of Switlik Hall, is one.
“I always intended on going to a graduate school because I knew that I wanted to work in higher education since my sophomore year at Rider,” he said. “The only problem is, with the economy the way it is, a lot of people had the same idea. Some of the schools I applied to mentioned during their interviews that they had not had this many applicants in five years. It made getting into a program that much more competitive.”
Chave applied to several graduate programs and looked for jobs at each. He said that he was one of 60 people applying for eight positions on campus at one university.
“In the end, Rider’s employment package was one of the best offers,” he said. “The housing portion was also a big pull for me to stay here, since many of the other jobs I looked at required me to find a place to rent.”
Chave knows people who have found jobs that they may love or hate, but the important thing is that they found jobs.
“It isn’t easy finding a job right now, but it’s not impossible,” he said.
According to Dr. Jonathan Mendilow, chair of political science, many of his department’s May 2009 graduates also went on to further their education.
“More than half of our graduates went on to graduate school or law school,” Mendilow said.
Current students are doing their best to prepare themselves to face today’s job market. Senior Rhiannon deCesare, a communication major, will be graduating in May and is already getting ready for life after college.
“I had an internship this past spring at MTV Networks,” she said. “It definitely got my foot in the door and helped me gain some valuable experience.”
According to deCesare, she has already gotten in touch with the woman she interviewed with for her first internship.
“The first internship was a great experience,” deCesare said. “However, being that it was such a new and different experience, I don’t think I was really able to take advantage of the incredible opportunity I was given. This time around, I know what to expect, as well as what is expected of me.”
Joanne Nosuchinsky, a senior fine arts major with a concentration in theater, is looking for employment in a different way.
“I have not had any internships,” she said. “I spend my summers auditioning for film, television, commercial and theater jobs in New York. It’s all about getting my face out there right now.”
Vogel, whose true passion is acting, offered some advice for students.
“I would say to make sure that you watch out for yourself and take care of yourself but don’t lose your dreams,” she said.