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Class of 2012 Jumps Into Job Market

Grads Find Skills in Demand

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Scott Conway, who earned a bachelor's degree in political science, is working on the advance team for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. He served as a panelist at the UMass Lowell-Boston Herald Democratic U.S. Senate candidate debate.

By Jill Gambon

From the presidential campaign trail to the halls of Fortune 500 companies; from the labs of a teaching hospital to the clean room of a leading medical device maker, members of UMass Lowell’s class of 2012 are finding themselves in-demand by employers.

Many of the 2,069 men and women who received bachelor’s degrees on May 26 have landed their coveted first post-college professional jobs. Some graduates had offers on the table even before final exams.
Tips for Landing a Job
  1. Get professional experience through internships, co-op jobs and service-learning.
  2. Build a strong network of professional contacts through professors, employers, student groups and professional organizations. 
  3. Get résumé and interview help through the Career Services and Cooperative Education Center.
  4. Volunteer while job searching to expand professional contacts and demonstrate skills to potential employers.
“I feel very fortunate. This is a great opportunity,” says Angela Pasquarello, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and corporate finance from the Manning School of Business and got a job with Fidelity Life Insurance Co. in Boston.

Pasquarello started the position in early May but took time off for finals. She felt well-prepared for the job thanks to an accounting internship with a different division of Fidelity, combined with her coursework and extracurricular activities like the student-managed investment fund.

Job Market Looking Up

The class of 2012 is benefitting from a regional economy that is shaking off the lingering effects of the recession. The state’s unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent in April, the lowest in more than three years, and significantly better than the national rate of 8.1 percent. On campus, signs of a healthier job market were evident at the spring career fair, where 125 employers participated, up from about 70 two years ago. During this past academic year, the total number of employers participating in UMass Lowell career fairs jumped by 40 percent.

Since early May, Scott Conway, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, has been traveling around the country with the Romney for President campaign. As a member of the advance team, Conway works seven days a week helping to pull together events. He scopes out sites for fundraisers and speeches, works with the Secret Service and interacts with reporters.
Already a veteran of several Massachusetts political contests, Conway is thriving on the adrenaline-fueled pace of the campaign. He likes planning events that can draw hundreds of people and be seen by millions on network television.

“I enjoy taking ownership of an event. It’s something you have to have an eye for. You look at an empty room and figure out where the podium should go and where the crowd will be,” says Conway, who hopes to run for office someday.

Francis Muthini, who earned a bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory sciences from the School of Health and Environment, is looking forward to starting a job in the hematology lab at Boston Medical Center, the primary teaching affiliate for Boston University School of Medicine. Muthini wanted the challenge of working at a large, academic medical center.

“The training in the classes coupled with the clinical rotations gives you the confidence to feel like you are ready to work,” says Muthini, who had placements at Cambridge Hospital and Holy Family Hospital in Methuen as an undergraduate.
Like Muthini, plastics engineering graduate Matthew Burke had a specific career goal in mind as he considered his employment prospects. “I really wanted to work in research and development for a medical device company because they do cutting-edge innovation,” says Burke, who accepted a position as a process engineer at Advanced Polymers in Salem, N.H. He’ll be working in the clean room of the firm’s balloon catheter division and returning to the Francis College of Engineering part-time in the fall to pursue a master’s degree.

Some members of the class of 2012 are hoping entry-level gigs will be a springboard to permanent positions. Sound recording technology major Thomas Beemer got a highly competitive internship at Avatar Studios in New York City, where such performers as Bruce Springsteen, U2, Lady Gaga and Pat Metheny record. As an intern, he’ll be taking lunch orders and counting microphones, but he hopes the work will lead to bigger things.
“It’s nothing glamorous, but you have to show you can follow directions and pay attention to details,” he says.
Parlaying an internship into a permanent position was how civil engineering graduate Melinda Ferullo landed full-time work at Watermark Environmental in Lowell. After interning at the company last summer, Ferullo got an offer for a full-time position in February. She is now working on groundwater monitoring projects.

“I love it. I am still learning every day,” she says.    

Using Campus Resources

While their courses of studies and their interests vary widely, the graduates who found jobs cite common strategies in preparing for the workforce: Practical experience, extracurricular activities, networking with alumni and other professionals and getting help from the University’s Career Services and Cooperative Education Center.

Muthini says Career Services staff provided useful feedback on his résumé and helped him prep for his interviews at Boston Medical Center.

“They gave me tips on typical questions and gave me suggestions about how to appear confident,” he says. “Being prepared for an interview shows you are someone who is ready to work.”

Students looking for jobs can still get help from Career Services. In-person counseling as well as online resources like CareerLink, a recruitment program, and InterviewStream, a platform for practicing video interviews, are available to graduates even after they leave campus, says Assistant Dean of Career Development Patricia Yates. In fact, in recent years, the number of alumni using Career Services has steadily grown, she says. Graduates can also join the UMass Lowell alumni network on LinkedIn, where jobs are often posted and through which mentoring is available.

Graduates should also consider volunteer work to learn new skills and expand their contacts while they are looking for a permanent job, Yates advises.

“Employers hire people; they don’t hire a piece of paper. You need to network,” she says.