Battle Studies: UB Seniors to Tackle Job Front After the Recession

March 22, 2010

A walk into a new job arena for this year’s graduating students.

From the West Coast to the East Coast, people entering the job market–in addition to seasoned workers–are struggling to find jobs in troubled economic times. The unemployment rate has remained unwavering over the heads of Americans who watch it like a heavy boulder ready to fall.

After October 2009’s unemployment rate hit the double digits at 10.10 percent, there has only been a minor improvement in numbers. The current statistic at 9.7 percent accounts for 14.9 million people without work, which has remained unchanged since January 2010.

This year’s graduating classes from the nation’s institutions of higher education will be the second group to tackle the job market on the offensive since 2008 when the consequences of risky deals and surge of subprime mortgages on Wall Street came to fruition. Like a stack of falling dominoes, the plunge of the hedge funds of Bear Sterns caused its Wall Street lenders such as Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs to take a tumble with the effects of lost assets. Bank failures came next, with IndyMac leading the way for the U.S. government to swoop down to save mortgage lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, American International Group (A.I.G.), and approve mergers of banking giants.

That was only the beginning. In October 2008, the stock market crumbled, dropping 40.3 percent, becoming the worst week for the stock market over 75 years. When stock markets suffer, the national employment rate is a passenger in the sinking boat. As companies and employers lose money in investment and downsizing is necessary, it costs people their jobs.

The stock market and financial situation has begun to heal, according to some financial analysts–including Chicago Tribune’s Gail MarksJarvis. The columnist cites Standard & Poor’s 500 index–gauges the U.S. equities market with reports from 500 of the country’s leading companies–at a current rise. As of March 15, the index is at a healthy 1,150.51.

The number of jobs has suffered from recession-induced budget cuts. Jobs have been affected in many areas of the economy—business, professional services industries, retailers, and leisure and hospitality companies.

Computer analysts, data communication analysts, network system analysts, registered nurses, postsecondary teachers, physical therapists, physicians and surgeons top many lists naming the most recession-proof jobs.

Seemingly, if you’re not planning on going into the medical field, there is a less chance of finding a job right away.

However, UB seniors, beside daunting numbers, are making the most of their time before their college years come to an end.

Semesters ahead of time, students anticipating graduation have tried prepping themselves for life after college with summer internships and year-round jobs. In talking to a couple of graduating seniors who recognize the challenges of a stale job market, it is evident that those who have worked for free, fetched coffee, and taken on an extra major/minor are the ones who are the most confidently stepping out onto the path they call life.

Katie Giangarra

On a typical Monday morning, Katie Giangarra, a senior health & human services and anthropology major, quickly combs her dark, freshly straightened hair into neat cast and looks at herself in the mirror while going over a to-do list as long as a grocery list. Giangarra, as an atypical senior, is taking five classes during her last semester including an internship at the school’s Student Wellness Center to learn valuable skill sets under the health office’s director.

Giangarra walks to class at approximately 10 a.m. every morning with a cup of fresh brewed coffee–creamer and a little bit of sugar–to help launch a long day, with gym visits and study sessions in between genetics class and work. If all the pieces of this daily puzzle fall right into place, she will land a job in the epidemiology field.

An ideal job would be with the Center for Disease Control, studying evidence-based medicine to identify causes of disease and epidemics getting people sick around the world. She has been checking the career pages of various government Web sites and applying to graduate schools for close to a year now.

She is one of around 4,000 people expected to graduate together from UB this May. Going into the health field, Giangarra states she is not overly worried about finding a job because of the experience she has acquired from school and from her campus-based internship at the Student Wellness Center.

“I’m a little worried about it. But, with anything health related, there will always be a need for it. So, I feel … it may not be as much as a worry for me,” Giangarra said. “I feel like in the type of field I want to go into, studying other cultures and finding ways that certain diseases and health risks [spread], will never be something you don’t need.”

She is still waiting to hear back from the six graduate schools she applied to–some based in Georgia, New York and California. Giangarra reports being hopeful for life after college and hopes to reach her goal of preventing commonplace diseases around the globe.

Carly Clemons

Before starting a long stream of classes, Carly Clemons sits cozily in a UB-blue sweatshirt waiting for the steaming cup of hot coffee on the desk in front of her to cool. Her fingers hit the black keys of her silver Mac without a slight interruption, forming lines of an email response to a job ad newly uploaded that morning.

This is evidently a practiced routine. With a cover letter and resume fit for a non-profit entry job, she’s ready to land her email on top of the big pile of emails waiting for a CEO or HR person to read before the start of the work day.

“I’m hoping just to find a job that will pay me. I’ve been looking on job web sites like and,” Clemons said, when asked what she is looking for in a lackluster job market. “I assume [it’ll be more difficult] because the jobs I am looking for are in the non-profit sector. Now they really don’t feel like paying me to do their office work.”

Clemons’s ideal job would be with a non-profit organization that helps either women or children. However, Clemons expresses the only way to garner the job she’s looking for is to start off at entry level–being an executive assistant to a CEO–surveying the general field before focusing her landing.

During her last semester, she is busy writing a senior thesis at the completion of a bulky research project through the Honors College at UB. With that and classes, she utilizes calm mornings for reviewing job vacancies and emailing possible employers.

A lack of responses all together keeps Clemons slightly apathetic about the search, as she jokes she can always return to a part-time job at Party City.

“I spoke to someone at American Cancer Society–I might just do an unpaid internship there this summer if I really can’t find anything else to do, which is clearly not the most economical option,” Clemons said, at the end of the interview.

Simone Battiste-Alleyne

Simone Battiste-Alleyne is always well-kept and well-prepared, as she is for our interview. It may be her effortless charm, big smile, Chanel-branded earrings she wears on occasion that pushes this persona, or simply the fact that she is always ready for anything.

Battiste-Alleyne has never liked going with the crowd–this is an attitude that has made her go far. She anticipates what the fad will be and goes the complete other direction. This year, she has decided to go against her original plans of getting an MBA after graduating UB with a BA in communication, simply because it became the trite option. Instead, she is pursuing a Masters in Public Administration.

Battiste-Alleyne believes graduate school is currently her best bet after foreseeing the difficulties in attaining a job even after going above and beyond in school–garnering extra skills with a sociology minor and internships at various companies including the Target Corporation.

One weekend after looking at job Web sites, Battiste-Alleyne figured that a focus on public administration would be the right approach that would lead to a non-profit or government job.

“I went online and I looked for jobs and then I was like ‘What qualifications do I need.’ I looked at what they wanted and decided a Masters in Public Administration would cover what they are looking for and then a little bit more,” she said.

Battiste-Alleyne hopes to garner skills like using Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Excel, and problem solving in graduate school.

“If the job market wasn’t so bad I would be out doing the regular things. I probably wouldn’t have gone to graduate school. But with the competition out there with people who lost their jobs who are qualified and overqualified, you know, Simone isn’t getting a job,” she said.

She applied to Old Dominion University, University at North Carolina, and CUNY John Jay during this last semester. She recently made up her mind that North Carolina was the place to go–to pick up her bags and leave her hometown of Rochester as early as July.

“I’m in the process of how I’m going to work and where I’m going to work. Right now, I’m in the process applying to be an assistant hall director in the residence halls, so hopefully I get that. I’ll send out my resume and cover letter tomorrow… if anything I will just waitress,” says the girl with the plan.

Chris Di Matteo

When I catch Chris Di Matteo, a current senior anthropology major, during the middle of the day for our interview, he is the acting nucleus of a body of people. He catches the attention of the otherwise busy editors that work with him at The Spectrum with a story on a hectic production day. Di Matteo always seems to be the person seen making everyone laugh in the midst of the busyness of being a student and editor thrice, weekly.

A light demeanor and a smile are necessities everywhere he goes, it seems. Many know him around campus as the head of undergraduate paper’s Arts Desk where he writes about the music he loves and local events in his native Buffalo.

Music is just one of the many life loves of Di Matteo. He also loves what he does—has worked on The Spectrum staff for three years—and hopes to pursue journalism in some form after graduation, but has kept the door open for other things.

“It’s complicated because there’s a wide range of things I would like to do from working in journalism to possibly going on to law school. I feel I have a lot of options so I’m not really worried about it, but maybe I should be,” Di Matteo said.

Di Matteo has applied for Teach for America, as well. For now, nothing is permanent. No extra preparation has been put forth because of the stagnant job market because as he has described himself as already cautious and driven.

“I’m the type of person that would always keep my options open. I can’t see myself doing one thing for the rest of my life. I’d get way too bored, so I think I would have done the same sort of preparation either way,” Di Matteo said.

What is important to him now is to keep doing what he loves and to network at games.

“When I cover games I make it a point to speak with writers from other publications like the Democrat and Chronicle. I try to get out there,” Di Matteo said.

It’s essential, he said at the end of the interview, to believe in what you do, get real-life job experience, show you care for your field, and work hard for it.

Words to live by, perhaps.

Daniel Mecca

Meet Daniel Mecca. A charming senior media studies and English major, who has foreseen his fate in film.

It’s an industry that supports big directors, the A-list, and multimillion-dollar profit margins. While many only dream, barely touching this grand idea, Mecca has managed to create a movie niche online with The Film Stage amongst other things. (He has also dappled in screenwriting, acting, and directing.)

The two-year-old Web site, homegrown by Mecca and his fellow movie-adoring roommate Jordan Raup, already boasts more than a million visits.

The major film industry has thrived in the recent economic downturn because of its easy offerings of cheap thrills—cool comedies, heavy heaps of horror, and kid-friendly, other worldly 3-D adventures.

The more artsy, inventive, DIY-sector of the industry—that of independent films— made outside of major film studios, however, is drying up due to a decreased amount of investors. This is where Mecca wants to land after graduation.

“On one end, it’s bad news, but at another end, you can do something really great on the cheap, so hopefully that’s something I can figure out how to do,” Mecca said. “Technology has allowed people to make films for as cheap as $10,000 if you look at a movie like Paranormal Activity.”

Since the film industry has always been a hard business to step into, Mecca describes the process of garnering directing experience and interning at numerous places as natural, and not extraneous due to the recession.

The quick advance of The Film Stage, is the one thing that may have come about with the extra push of poor job conditions, he said.

If a production assistant job with a Killer Films, with whom Mecca has interned, does not come as planned, a move to L.A. may be possible.  A later goal may also come to fruition sooner than later—that of starting an independent film company through his Web site.

“We can get independent funding from family, from investment firms, and what not. Then we can start making our own movies independently, and shopping them around at festivals. That might actually be the next step, which would be crazy, but everything’s crazy with the movies, so hopefully it’ll work,” he said.

Wherever the road leads, Mecca knows hard work will be put forth in order to land his dream role.

“Having to talked to a bunch of people who are in the business they will tell you as long as you work hard there will be a place for you.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: