Looking for an on-campus job? You’re not the only one.
Even students are not immune to the effects of a sour economy, as job openings are down and job seekers are up compared to last year.
In winter quarter 2008, there was a daily average of 27 on-campus job postings and 33 applications submitted on jobs.ucdavis.edu. This quarter, there has been a daily average of 21 on-campus job postings and 56 applications submitted, according to Monica Pena-Villegas, assistant director of the Student Employment Center. The data compares the first seven weeks of winter quarter 2008 and 2009.
The data at UC Davis reflects a national trend. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people 18 to 19 years old was 20.2 percent in January, compared to 16 percent in January 2008. For people 20 to 24 years old, the respective rates were 12.1 percent and 8.8 percent. However, since the bureau only counts those who are actively seeking work, the actual rates are likely significantly higher.
The Department of Campus Recreation, which employs more than 600 students, is one of several on-campus employers that have reported a decline in job availability.
“We have noticed some increase in applications for student positions, but the real effect of the current economy may be with retention,” said Paul Dorn, assistant director of the Department of Campus Recreation, in an e-mail interview. “Many of our student employees are staying, perhaps because there aren’t other jobs available.”
For example, intramural sports held clinics earlier this quarter for potential officials. Sixty-seven officials were hired out of a pool of 125 students, said Andy Ramirez, assistant director of Campus Recreation.
The Activities and Recreation Center, which employs about 125 students, has experienced far less turnover than in past years, said Coulson Thomas, assistant director of Campus Recreation.
“As far as winter quarter goes we have only had one person resign. We usually get more resignations around midterms and finals, but so far, so good,” Thomas said.
Sodexho, another large employer of students, has seen its openings fill faster than in past years. On average, positions have been filled two to three weeks more quickly than last year, said Gina Rios, director of retail dining for Sodexho.
Positions at the new Sodexho-operated Starbucks at the ARC filled within a week, Rios said.
The economy has also forced Sodexho to cut some positions by attrition, as steep declines in discretionary spending have caused departments to cut back on catered lunches.
“We haven’t eliminated anyone’s position, but we may not necessarily fill a position. We’ve seen catering positions drop off a lot, but that’s through attrition,” Rios said.
Competition for jobs at the ASUCD Coffee House is always robust, and this year is no different, said kitchen manager Darin Schluep.
Last quarter, the Coho received over 60 applications in four days for 20 to 30 open positions, he said.
Such competition has made the quest for on-campus jobs more difficult for seekers such as Gloria Lu.
“I check regularly to see if any position seems interesting to me, but I haven’t had any luck yet,” said Lu, a sophomore psychology major.
Students stymied by the lack of jobs on campus can try to find one in the Davis community. The Student Employment Center also posts off-campus jobs, but the availability of those has also declined. In the first seven weeks of winter quarter 2008, there were an average of 34 openings per day on the UC Davis Jobs website, but this quarter there have only been an average of 23 jobs per day, Pena-Villegas said.
To make the odds of landing a job more favorable, there are a number of simple steps a student can take, said Pena-Villegas.
“We suggest taking advantage of the career center to learn interview techniques and resume writing,” she said.
On a job application, students too often write that they are interested in the job because they need money, Pena-Villegas said. Instead, they should respond specifically to the job description and requirements to explain how they are qualified, she said.
Schluep said students can improve their applications by using correct grammar and taking the application seriously.
“People look at the laid back atmosphere at the Coho and maybe don’t take the application as seriously, but there’s so much demand for this position that you definitely have to do a professional job,” he said.
Job seekers can visit the Student Employment Center in 1214 Dutton or visit jobs.ucdavis.edu.
PATRICK McCARTNEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.