Thursday, December 15, 2011

Endicott Graduates See Next Step as Foothold on the Rest of Their lives

By Rachel Bell
Gordon College News Service
November 21, 2011
(This story appeared in a GCNS package series December 15, 2011, in the print and online editions of the Boston Globe, North section.)

BEVERLY, Mass. – This Christmas, Rebecca Haile, 22, will be bringing home a degree in business administration, a minor in English and a slew of internship experiences. Having attended Beverly Middle and High Schools, Haile is now a dean’s list student graduating from her hometown’s local college.

Haile will join approximately 30 other Endicott undergraduates receiving their degrees in December instead of with most of their classmates in May, and will enter the job market in the middle of the holiday season. Some of those December graduates are adult learners taking their degree at an accelerated pace and others like Haile, are graduating a semester early.

“More and more students are coming to us with credit earned in high school giving them the opportunity to accelerate their program,” said Amy Ross, dean of Endicott’s school of business. According to Ross, some students decline the early graduation option, despite the chance to save money during the spring semester. “It boggles my mind that a lot of students opt to stay in for the full four years,” she said.

But for Haile, the choice to graduate early was not a financial one. “I’m just done,” she said. “It’s not about the money, though saving money is a plus.”

Christopher Durocher, 23, a sports management major had a different reason for graduating in December. In 2008 he entered Endicott as a transfer student from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada. When his credits could not all transfer to Endicott, he ended up taking an extra semester of classes, which meant graduating in the middle of the academic year. “It’s a weird feeling that all my buddies still have another semester,” he said, “while I’m going off and doing something completely different.”

Durocher lives with his family in Amesbury and works as an intern in the athletic department of St John’s Preparatory School, Danvers, coaching football and coordinating schedules. His internship is part of the curriculum at Endicott, where all students take 120 hours of experiential learning during their first two years and a semester-long internship as a junior or senior.

“Internships are the surest way to a professional route after graduation,” said Ross.

Nonetheless, finding a post-graduation job in athletic departments is proving difficult for Durocher. “I’m having a tough time because right now schools are cutting those programs,” he said. “In education no one’s hiring. It’s a tough time for any college student.”

While Durocher feels the pinch here on the North shore, nationwide education jobs are projected to increase according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The Bureau’s 2010-11 Career Guide to Industries reports that increased student enrollment, along with the retirement of workers over the age of 55, will create more job openings in the education industry.

Experts in Haile’s chosen field, business administration with a concentration in marketing, public relations and advertising, however, say that the job market is slowly recovering but that graduates must learn to distinguish themselves if they want to enter it. “Everybody has internships,” said Gerard Corbett, 61, chair elect at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). “The key is being able to describe how you’ve helped your employer accomplish their directives.”

Haile was able to distinguish herself enough in her first internship to land a part time job there, at a Gloucester-based, merchandise designing company called GAP Promotions. Haile hopes the job will continue after graduation but says it all depends on the company.

“I talked to my boss,” she said. “If there’s a position open I might get it, but she just doesn’t know.”

For Haile, entering the job market in December rather than in May could mean less competition but also less job openings. “There’s not that usual college flood looking for jobs,” she said. “At the same time they’re not necessarily looking to hire.”

Ross had similar sentiments for early graduates. “You’re contending with the traditions of the recruitment cycle,” she said, “which is geared towards a fresh crop of graduates each summer.”

In spite of the challenges of mid-year changes, and his bleak perspective on the market, Durocher remains hopeful something will come up. “My plan is to pay off loans,” he said, “and get a foothold into the rest of my life.”


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