College grads, take heart: You’re entering best job market in years

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: May 24, 2016

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, the denizens of Southern Methodist University’s campus seemed to move at a leisurely pace.

A few cyclists clicked along the pathways and the stately brick buildings, with their bright white colonnades, were quiet. Commencement had taken place a few days earlier.

But for Regina James, the busy season was getting into full swing.

“There are still students who are in transition. They’re either waiting to hear back about offers — there’s a little anxiousness there — or they’re students that maybe just didn’t get around to the search, so they’re starting to reach out and say, ‘I don’t have anything yet,’” she said. “Those students, we’ll be helping throughout the summer.”

James is the associate director for employer relations at SMU’s Hegi career center.

Experts say newly-minted college graduates in the Dallas area are entering one of the best job markets they’ve seen. But James said that’s no excuse to slack off in the hunt.

“We encourage students to have multiple internships for a number of reasons,” she said. “You’ve got to think about it as, not only are you competing against your peers here, you’re competing against peers from other institutions in the area, you’re competing against institutions nationally [whose students] may desire to live in the Dallas area.”

According to a report by the firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, 1.8 million Americans with four-year degrees are expected to enter the workforce this year, where they’ll be greeted by the best job market for college graduates in several years.

The report cites the fact that the nation has seen almost 70 months of job gains, meaning that 14 million workers have been added to payrolls across the country. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers are retiring.

A National Association of Colleges and Employers survey found that companies are slated to hire 5.2 percent more new graduates than a year ago.

And, the report says, 59 metro areas have unemployment rates below 4.0 percent.

All of those factors add up to a demand for workers who are ready to start their careers.

In Dallas-Fort Worth — one of those metro areas with a low unemployment rate — there’s extra momentum, said Bud Weinstein, an economist and associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute at SMU’s Cox School of Business.

The region’s economy is more diverse than it’s ever been. And more companies are relocating or expanding in North Texas — in part because they’re attracted by the area’s talent pool.

“Dallas-Fort Worth probably has the strongest job market in the nation among large metropolitan areas — maybe not in absolute numbers, but certainly in percentage terms,” Weinstein said. “I think the job market has never looked better, particularly for college graduates.”

Michael Carroll, director of UNT’s Economics Research Group, added that although energy and manufacturing jobs across the state are hurting, “we’re fairly insulated from that” in North Texas.

A flood of migration into the state, Carroll said, has also helped keep wages at a manageable level and competition for workers from scaring off new jobs.

“I think it’s a real positive with all the companies moving in,” he said.

Higher education institutions around the region say they’re bullish on the possibilities for their graduates — whether they’re armed with a bachelor’s degree or trade certification.

“I cannot even tell you — we’re tripping over jobs,” said Dawn Gomez, career services coordinator at the Dallas County Community College District’s Northlake College in Irving.

The hard part, she said, is connecting students with the right employer in an age when job hunters have countless online resources.

“Soft skills, communication, critical thinking, teamwork — employers want those that can pull it all together in a composed, succinct package,” Gomez said.

For Morgan Slottje, who graduated from SMU in December, settling on a career path wasn’t easy.

As an undergraduate, she said with a chuckle, she changed majors “at least 10 times.”

Throughout college, she also test drove various jobs through internships: She worked on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, she worked in marketing.

When the time came to focus on the job search, Slottje, 23, applied to “hundreds” of jobs she said sounded interesting, from advertising to financial analysis. She considered getting a master’s degree in statistics.

In the end, Slottje said she went to a Deloitte presentation and felt a strong sense that its values aligned with hers: An emphasis on continuing to learn and grow.

“I picked a company where their values really align with mine,” she said. “That’s important with the job search — I want a career. I want to love what I’m doing.”

And although Slottje said she was open to moving to another city, she preferred to stay in Dallas, close to her parents and where living costs are more manageable than in New York, where she went to school for 2 and a half years before switching to SMU.

“I’d rather be in a city like Dallas when I’m starting a career,” she said. “I’m versed in tech, but when I was interviewing [with a company in the] Bay Area, I was thinking, ‘No matter what I’m getting paid, I’m going to be so poor.’”

She’ll be starting a job here, in business technology consulting at Deloitte in July.

Reggie Davis, a 21-year-old University of North Texas logistics student, won’t graduate until next year.

He said he’s optimistic about his job prospects, particularly in logistics. In D-FW, information technology and other “knowledge” jobs that require college degrees are in high demand, particularly given the breadth of the region’s transportation industry.

His father, too, works in logistics, meaning he’s had exposure to the jobs for years.

Nevertheless, Davis said he’s not cruising to graduation day.

For one thing, UNT’s logistics program requires that students intern before they graduate, so he’ll be working at Schneider Logistics this summer.

Davis is also participating in the school’s professional leadership program, which aims to prep students for business leadership with access to mentors and professional development opportunities.

He said that although he’s been around supply chain and logistics work — it’s what his dad does, too — he sees the internship as both a way to get an edge and to test out which specific type of job he might like best.

“If I end up doing well in the internship and enjoying it, I would be glad to consider a full-time position or transition to being a full-time employee,” he said. “But I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket.” READ MORE

Seven Dedman College students awarded prestigious national fellowships and awards for the 2015-16 academic year

SMU News

Originally Posted: May 17, 2016

Congratulations to the Dedman College students recently awarded prestigious national fellowships and awards for the 2015-16 academic year, including Fulbright Grants and a fellowship to the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.

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Hena Rafiq, graduated May 14 with degrees in human rights and political science and has earned a Fulbright Award to teach English in Kosovo. READ MORE

scholar-nate-whiteSenior Nate White has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to teach next year in Spain. He is graduating this spring with a Bachelor’s degree in economics, as well as a minor in Spanish, from Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. He also is earning a Bachelor’s degree in education from Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

scholar-joseph-DiPaneJunior Joseph Di Pane, a biological sciences and history major, was named a 2016-17 Barry Goldwater Scholar, one of 252 sophomores and junior college students selected nationwide to receive the honor. READ MORE

Junior Patricia Nance, a chemistry and mathematics major, was awarded the 2016-17 Barry Goldwaterscholar-patricia-nance Scholarship. Nance plans to earn a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry and pursue a university teaching and research career. READ MORE

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Senior Nicole Michelle Hartman, a recipient of The National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), will graduate with majors in physics and mathematics from Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, and a minor in electrical engineering from the Lyle School of Engineering. READ MORE

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Margaret Sala, doctoral student in clinical psychology, has been awarded a three-year Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. READ MORE

scholar-ryan-crossSophomore Ryan Cross has been named a Presidential Fellow to the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in Washington, D.C. Cross is majoring in political science and international studies with minors in Spanish and history. He is a member of the Tower Scholars program, and has been selected for an internship at the Library of Congress as part of the Junior Fellows Summer Internship Program. READ MORE

For a full list of SMU students who received prestigious national fellowships and awards for the 2015-16 academic year, CLICK HERE.

Celebrating Dedman College Faculty Books

  • View a slideshow of the event photos here.
  • For more information on Dedman College faculty books, click here.

SMU Students Propose Innovation Community For Ex-Fraternity House

Innovate

Originally Posted: May 4, 2016

COMMUNITY WOULD FOCUS ON SPURRING IDEAS

Ingenuity is not limited to the hours of 9 to 5.

Providing a space where students can live and cultivate new ideas at any time of day is the driving force behind a pilot project being proposed by a group of students at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The living and learning community, dubbed Innovation House or iHouse, would welcome students across all academic disciplines and offer a platform to foster new products and businesses.

“The idea is we want to get people that have this raw passion or have a raw desire, and they’re driven enough to create projects and create their own designs,” said Momin Irfan, a freshman finance, computer science, and mathematics major at SMU. READ MORE

May Commencement Weekend

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Congratulations to all the Dedman College graduates. Looking for the latest schedule of events? Read More 

SMU’s May 14 Commencement celebrates academic achievement

SMU News

Originally Posted: May 3, 2016

SMU will celebrate the academic accomplishments of more than 2,500 students at its 101st annual Commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14, in Moody Coliseum.

Guests are urged to arrive early as seating in the coliseum is limited to four guests per student. Additional seating will be available for a simulcast of the event at Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports, Crum Auditorium and McFarlin Auditorium. The ceremony also will be broadcast outside Moody Coliseum on Bolin Plaza, and there will be a live webcast of the ceremony at http://www.smu.edu/live.

READ MORE

Associate dean for General Education addresses questions about UC-2016

SMU Daily Campus

Originally Posted: April 16, 2016

By: Peter Moore, associate dean, General Education

Let me take a moment to address the issues Noah Bartos raised in his editorial regarding UC-2016.

Noah is rightly concerned about the potential headaches various groups will face regarding two very similar curricula (UC-2012 and UC-2016). We are too. He notes the increase in paperwork. That comes in three forms: 1) course proposals that faculty must write; 2) assessment; and 3) student petitions.

He is right in pointing out that in the near-term faculty will have some additional work to do. A significant portion of that has already been completed this spring and I hope that most of the rest will be finished by December. There is a sense of fatigue, but this is offset to some extent by the improvements he notes in the structure which allow for new opportunities for participation. Regarding assessment, my expectation is that this will actually decrease initially (while eventually returning to the current level).

My biggest concern is with student petitions that will arise through confusion between the two curricula. Noah notes this problem as well regarding the mixture of requirements in the same course. This mixture does not involve Proficiencies and Experiences which are identical in both curricula. We are aware of the problem regarding pillars (UC-2012) and breadth and depth (UC-2016) and will be working to mitigate the headaches that are bound to result.

Noah also raises concerns with the new STEM requirements which he believes have the potential to unduly impact Meadows’ students. With regard to the lab-based portion (PAS under UC-2012) of this requirement the revision in UC-2016 is closer to the original intent of the UC adopted in 2010, that students complete two lab-based courses. The TM requirement, however, should not be an additional burden for most Meadows’ students who will be able to complete it in the major (e.g., Theater Lighting).

Noah notes the advantages from the simplified Second Language requirement which should prove beneficial across all majors. The changes in UC-2016 are designed to lessen the need for double-counting pillar courses by opening up courses in the major.

For example, I expect Cox majors to benefit when ITOM 3306 (a required course for all Cox students) satisfies the TM requirement. In this case the number of UC requirements met in the Cox major will increase from two to three. The modifications introduced in UC-2012 were designed to address high-credit majors and enhance students’ ability to double major. Students should find the same advantages in UC-2016 along with a simplified structure.

Finally he argues that the language of the proposal does not provide an adequate description of content. The descriptions match the information provided in the original UC and are augmented by the Student Learning Outcomes. Together these do provide a good basis for determining what the new breadth and depth requirements are all about.

Nearly two years ago the University Curriculum Council responded to concerns about the original UC and introduced key modifications. Those modifications have helped the class of 2012 to graduate on time. However, the modifications led to some unintended consequences which UC-2016 addresses. We expect that our efforts this time around will be even more beneficial. READ MORE

DRSEF Award Winner Has Unique Connection With SMU Department of Mathematics

March 8, 2016

(Dallas, TX) – Over 1,000 prize-winning students from across the Dallas and Fort Worth Metroplex competed in the 2016 Beal Bank Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair (DRSEF) on Saturday, February 28, in Fair Park. Co-sponsored by SMU, participants — who have won their school or district science fairs — were awarded top honors for their innovations.

Steven Elliott science fair
Steven Elliot at the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair

Steven Elliot, a high school student with The Home Educators Outsourcing High School was one of the top prize-winners. He presented his work titled, “Use the force Lyapunov! A novel force controller for quadcopter applications,” and won first place in Senior Division, Physical Sciences: Robotics and Intelligent Machines. He was a runner up for the grand prize in the Senior Division, Physical Sciences.

Elliot has a unique connection with SMU as he enrolled and took several math classes in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016. Steven works with Dr. Thomas Carr, Associate Professor in Department of Mathematics on problems related to the stability and control of quadcopters.

“Steven is highly motivated, independent and particularly competent,” says Dr. Carr. “I provide some mathematical guidance but for the most part I am learning from him, and that is a lot of fun.”

Steven has one research manuscript accepted for publication in the American Journal of Undergraduate Research (http://www.ajuronline.org/) titled, “Robust Nonlinear Control of BLDC Motor in Quadcopter Applications.” A second research paper is currently being submitted.

He will now go to the International Science Fair competition in Phoenix, AZ, in May, which will host students from throughout the world.

imagesAbout the DRSEF:

SMU faculty members coordinate the fair, recruit judges and help select the grand prize winners. SMU also hosts a March banquet honoring the top fair winners, their parents and science teachers.

The Fair is affiliated with the International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest pre-college science competition. Students in grades 6-12 at public and private schools within the boundaries of TEA Region 10, who placed in their school science fairs, are eligible to participate in the DRSEF.

Board of Directors: Prof. Simon Dalley, SMU Physics Department, Prof. Randall J. Scalise, SMU Physics Department, Prof. Fredrick I. Olness, SMU Physics Department, Prof. Nicolay V. Tsarevsky, SMU Chemistry Department, Lacey Porter, SMU Physics Department

Executive Council: President: Simon Dalley, SMU Physics Department , Vice President: Randall J. Scalise, SMU Physics Department , Vice President: Fredrick I. Olness, SMU Physics Department, Secretary: Lacey Porter, SMU Physics Department, Treasurer: Andrew Milburn, Texas Capital Bank

For more information: dallassciencefair.org

Scott A. Norris, Mathematics, on odds of winning $1.6B Powerball jackpot

Associated Press

Originally Posted: January 14, 2016

$1.6B Powerball jackpot to be split three ways

Winners bought their tickets in Florida, Tennessee and a Los Angeles suburb

An eye-popping and unprecedented Powerball jackpot whose rise to $1.6 billion became a national fascination will be split three ways.

The winners’ identities remain a mystery, but they bought their tickets in Florida, Tennessee and a Los Angeles suburb where even lottery losers were celebrating Thursday that such heady riches were won in their modest city.

The winners of the world-record jackpot overcame odds of 1 in 292.2 million to land on the numbers drawn Wednesday night, 4-8-19-27-34 and Powerball 10. They can take the winnings in annual payments spread over decades or a smaller amount in a lump sum.

The California ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, California, lottery spokesman Alex Traverso told The Associated Press. The winning ticket in Tennessee was sold in Munford, north of Memphis, according to a news release from lottery officials in that state.

The California store and its surrounding strip mall immediately became a popular gathering spot in the usually quiet suburb of 75,000 people. Hundreds of people, from news crews to gawkers, crowded the store and spilled into its parking lot.

They cheered and mugged for TV cameras as if it were New Year’s Eve or a sporting event. Many chanted, “Chino Hills! Chino Hills!” in celebration of the city.

“It’s history. We’re all so excited for our city,” Rita Talwar, 52, who has lived in Chino Hills for 30 years, told the local newspaper, the San Bernardino Sun.

Some took selfies with the store clerk on duty, who became an instant celebrity and may well have been the man who sold the ticket after being on duty for much of the run-up to Wednesday night’s drawing. READ MORE