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

Congratulations to Robyn Ann Langley, the first SMU Jewish Studies minor

slnewCongratulations to Robyn Ann Langley, the first Jewish Studies minor. She was recently honored at a reception on Friday, May 13th hosted by the SMU Jewish Studies program and faculty advisor, Shira Lander. Robyn is a Fashion Media major in the Meadows School of the Arts and triple minor in Jewish Studies, Religious Studies, both housed in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, and Art.

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Robyn was born in Miami, FL and moved to Boca Raton when she was just four years old. She was enrolled in preschool at the Jewish Community Center and has continued her involvement in the community ever since. She attended Hebrew school at Congregation B’nai Israel and was confirmed in 10th grade. She continued working at B’nai Israel as a Madricha (teacher’s assistant) and was part of the synagogue’s Senior Youth Group (BISY, a National Federation of Temple Youth affiliate). She has been involved with many Jewish organizations, such as Ruth Rales Jewish Family Services, JAFCO-Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options, and the Otzar Program for Special Needs. She most enjoyed working as the lead art and design volunteer for the Otzar Special Needs Sunday school.

Celebrating Dedman College Faculty Books

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

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

Dedman College students Aubrey Chapman, Carly Shuttlesworth, and Hannah Dudley discuss early graduation

SMU Daily Campus

Originally Posted: March 28, 2016

Aubrey Chapman, a junior double majoring in psychology and religious studies, is looking forward to graduating in May of 2016, a year earlier than her peers. After graduation, Chapman will immediately move on in her studies and get her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at seminary.

Even though Chapman has heard many say that college is the best four years of your life, she has no qualms about missing out on her senior year. She said she has enjoyed her time at SMU.

“Personally, graduating early is allowing me to step into seminary sooner to receive the education that is in complete alignment with what I want to do in the future,” said Chapman. “I’m excited to be in an atmosphere that will strengthen and encourage me in my specific dreams and goals.”

Chapman is one of many students graduating early. Michael Tumeo, the director of institutional research at SMU, said that of the students who started at SMU in 2009, 67 percent graduated in four years or less. That statistic includes students who graduated “on time,” a semester early, or an entire year early. More specific data on those who have graduated in three years or three and a half years was not available.

Completing college a semester early is much more common across the nation and has even become a growing trend at some universities. According to a 2014 study at Duke University, there was a 30 percent increase in students graduating a semester early since 2010. READ MORE

Twentieth Nate and Ann Levine Lecture in Jewish Studies

Event date: April 5, 2016
Time: 7:30 pm

“Imagining a Vibrant Future for American Judaism.” Dr. Arnold Eisen is one of the world’s leading experts on American Judaism and the Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He will discuss and debunk the recent forecasts of gloom and doom when it comes to the future of non-Orthodox Judaism in America, a future that — so it is said — mirrors the decline of mainstream Christian groups and the triumph of the “nones”: individuals who turn away from any kind of religious belief or community. For more information: sfrolov@smu.edu

 

Mark Chancey, Religious Studies, comments on Bible Study in Public Schools

Education Week Blog, Curriculum Matters

Originally Posted: March 17, 2016

New bills on the table in Kentucky and Idaho would pave the path for more study of the Bible in public schools.

In Idaho, the state’s senate approved a bill that would “expressly permit” schools to use the Bible for academic study, the Associated Press reports. It specifies that the Bible can be used in studies of history, literature, and the arts.

The bill in Kentucky would allow schools to offer Bible Literacy classes as an elective passed the state senate’s education committee earlier this month, the Courier-Journal reports.

According to Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University who has studied the use of the Bible in public schools, the bills won’t likely permit anything that’s not already technically permissible under state and federal law.

A 1963 Supreme Court ruling affirmed that, while public schools cannot teach devotional practices, they can teach about the Bible “when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.” READ MORE