By Yadira Betances
LOWELL — While some of his friends are restless about the future, Jheddy Melendez-Feliz is not.
“Even with an economic crisis, there’ll always be jobs available in my field,” said Melendez-Feliz of Lawrence, who will graduate with a degree in computer science from UMass Lowell this year.
While it’s true that some fields — like computer science, engineering and health care — seem to hire regardless of the job market, the class of 2014 in general does have some rosier prospects than other graduates in the past few years.
The unemployment rate is down to 6.7 percent, one of the lowest rate since the start of the economic crisis in 2008. While there are still causes for concern, graduates like the 994 students who attended the UMass Lowell Summer and Beyond Career Fair yesterday should have an easier time finding jobs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 65,430 people with a bachelor’s degrees or higher were working in 2013, compared to 63,514 in 2012. The bureau showed that the number of unemployed people with a college education was 1,820 in 2013, a decrease from 1,942 in 2012.
That’s good news for the graduates at yesterday’s fair, but that doesn’t mean they should take the fact that they can find a job for granted. In addition to a degree, many of the employers at the fair suggested students get an internship in their respective fields or a co-op job.
“We absolutely recommend internships,” said Jim Kottas, an information security officer at Safran, MorphoTrust USA in Billerica. “We want to mold them into the position they want to be. As long as they know some of the basics, I need for them to learn on their own and I can be a safety net when they need me.”
Daniel vanSchalkwijk of Andover said he was glad he did an internship with General Electric in Kentucky last year.
“I wanted to see what it was like and how I could apply what I learn in school,” said vanSchalkwijk, an Andover High graduate.
Even though she won’t be graduating this spring, Brianna Martin of Methuen attended the fair to see what her options were in psychology.
“I want to be proactive and look for an internship to try to find out what age group I want to work with,” said Martin, a graduate of Central Catholic in Lawrence. “It’s important to get an internship because it looks good on your resume and to get the experience. It would be like trial and error.”