Katrina Griffiths, a 20-year-old PCC student, was laid off unexpectedly when the company she worked for cut back jobs. As a result, she was forced to drop a required math class in order to make her schedule more appealing to businesses. The biology major says she now fills that time looking for work. “That’s part of my little daily ritual now, is once I’m done [for the day] with school, I just go on Craigslist and look.” Griffiths is not alone in her search. Every day, several thousand Oregonians, many of them students, compete for jobs.
Katrina Griffiths, a 20-year-old PCC student, was laid off unexpectedly when the company she worked for cut back jobs. As a result, she was forced to drop a required math class in order to make her schedule more appealing to businesses.
The biology major says she now fills that time looking for work. “That’s part of my little daily ritual now, is once I’m done [for the day] with school, I just go on Craigslist and look.”
Griffiths is not alone in her search. Every day, several thousand Oregonians, many of them students, compete for jobs.
Students who must support themselves financially through school have several disadvantages against them, experts say.
Cynthia Shapiro, author of the job-hunting guide, What Does Somebody Have To Do To Get A Job Around Here?: 44 Insider Secrets That Will Get You Hired, said that with the continuing squeeze on the job market, service-level jobs–usually the domain of students such as Griffiths–are being seized up by highly skilled, more seasoned workers who cannot find employment in their usual field.
Unemployment rises in Oregon
This February, nearly 10,000 more Oregonians were unemployed than during the same time last year, according to a report published by the Oregon Employment Department. The Employment Department also reports that in March, Oregon’s unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent, .6 percent higher than the national reported average. The department also reported a loss in labor, manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality jobs, among other fields.
A student’s busy schedule can be a deterrent for businesses looking to hire someone with open availability, even when applying for minimum-wage retail positions.
“School schedules can be a problem,” Shapiro said. “A recession can compound that issue.”
On a student’s schedule
“Don’t tell them you’re a student,” advised a Borders employee who requested that they not be named for fear of repercussions on the job. The employee said hiring managers at the bookstore tend to look less favorably on student applicants due to complications with school schedules.
The sentiment of that thought is echoed across job message boards where postings for retail and service positions frequently state the requirement: “must be available for all shifts.”
Griffiths said she has applied for every type of job she can think of that she’s qualified for: “Cashier positions, grocery stores stocking food, graveyard positions, things of that nature and just any office position.” But the returns have been few.
“I was really close to getting one at Fantasy Video,” she said. “But they called and said they really wanted to hire me, but the company itself decided that particular store shouldn’t hire another individual to work those hours after all.”
At Portland State, some say the search for a living wage can also be rough. PSU’s Career Center online job postings board returned 28 results for on-campus jobs that pay student wages or a stipend, and many jobs are for 10 to 15 hours of work a week, often at or around minimum wage.
“The recession is making it more difficult for today’s college students to find career-related positions, whether those are part-time work, full-time jobs, internships or seasonal gigs.” said Steven Rothberg, president of www.collegerecruiter.com, a job-posting site geared toward college students.
However, Rothberg said, there is a silver lining out there for grads going into the work force, due to the expected massive wave of retirees from the baby boomer generation.
Upcoming college graduates are advised by Shapiro not to rely on that expectation.
“Start looking for jobs now,” she said. “Don’t wait until June when the already tight job market will be flooded with hundreds of thousands of eager graduates all looking for work.”
Some students, like Shai Lipkovich, an information systems major at McGill University in Quebec, decided to create their own jobs when faced with an employment pool that many say is hostile to students.
“I decided to act on what I’m learning,” said Lipkovich, who created a business that supplies thumbprint security devices. “So I took a lighter course load and started a business.”
Meanwhile for students like Griffiths, the stressful search for income continues around Portland.
“It’s demoralizing, it’s degrading, filling out application after application, it eats up my school time when I should be studying,” she said. “Imagine someone just stepping on your chest constantly.”
“It’s not that I’m a bad employee,” she added, “once I get a job I usually stay there. I’m a solid rock.”
Resources For Students Looking For Work:
PSU Career Center www.pdx.edu/careers/(503) 725-4613 Advice, coaching and job postings
OregonLive Job Listings www.oregonlive.com/jobs/Job listings, info on job fairs and tips and advice
Razume www.razume.com/Upload your resume and receive feedback
Snag A Job www.snagajob.com/Hourly employment job postings with advice for first-timers