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DSU grads find employment

Press Photo by Betsy Simon Dickinson State University senior Aaron Kelly, 22, a math major from Montana, wraps up his final days as an office attendant in DSU's Division of Student Development on Wednesday. Kelly, who plans to attend Baylor University's College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, this fall to study structural and computational biology and molecular biophysics, will graduate Saturday and is one of a majority of DSU students who already has his post-graduation plans set.

When Dickinson State University graduates exit campus this weekend, statistics show a majority will leave with the most coveted prize -- a job.

"Right now, there really are no hurdles for students looking for jobs, especially in North Dakota, because the economy is so good here," said Bonnie Bohlman, director of DSU's career services center. "It is really easy for them to find a position, but it may not be one in their major. Their biggest hurdle is probably finding a job and an employer that is the right fit for them."

According to DSU's 2010-11 graduate placement report completed by 91 percent of DSU's graduates, 99.2 percent of the respondents reported that they had a job, were enrolled in graduate school, or joined the military within about six months of


This year's post-graduation outlook for DSU graduates also appears good, Bohlman said.

The same can't be said nationally, where an estimated 1 in 2 recent college graduates are reportedly unemployed or underemployed.

Hal Haynes, DSU's vice president of student affairs, credits the school's stellar new graduate job placement rate to ongoing support that begins in a student's freshman year.

"We work with students during their four years here to help them find positions and internships, but work with seniors in their final semester usually provides the largest flurry of activity," he said. "Luckily, the university is blessed because we're in a state with low unemployment, so students can get jobs more easily here."

North Dakota's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 3 percent -- the nation's lowest unemployment rate that month, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national unemployment rate more than doubled that at 8.2 percent.

Bohlman said nabbing a job often comes down to networking and starts early in a student's college career.

"Students need to make sure they know the right people to talk to and make the right first impression with someone who could be a potential employer or could help them land the right job someday," she said. "There are exceptions, but we know that a majority of jobs are never listed. Getting a job is more likely to be about who you know,"

Students who opt to continue their education, instead of entering the workforce, can also network with DSU faculty to meet their goals.

"Our faculty helps students make sure they are in the appropriate placement for their area of study and can help students find contacts in their major," Haynes said.

DSU senior math major Aaron Kelly, 22, of Montana, spent much of his four years exploring post-graduation options before he opted to continue his education this fall at Baylor University's College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, studying structural and computational biology and molecular biophysics.

Kelly plans to pursue a doctorate degree that could open him up to careers in research, pharmaceuticals or academia.

"I decided that my best career potential was going to be with a national security agency, but the earliest they could hire me was 2013. That's too late," he said. "Plus, I thought more education would be better for my career in the long run. I applied to seven graduate programs and Baylor was the best deal for me because they'll cover tuition and pay a stipend."

Kelly said it paid off to spread his career search over four years, instead of waiting until senior year.

"Students should at least start looking at what options are out there for them by their sophomore or junior year because you don't want to be one of the people who graduates and still doesn't know what they want to do," he said. "Also, don't be intimidated by grad school. It's an extension of your education that will make you more prepared for future careers. Just remember that it's always an option."

The best advice Kelly said he's received is to not be narrow-minded when it comes to what possibilities are out there for any major.

"Don't think you can do only one thing with your major or that you have to stick to jobs in one particular field," he said. "Don't get tunnel vision and just be open to all possibilities."