The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Dreams Aren’t Enough

By Victor Morales 

Picture a soon to be graduate. Imagine he’s thinking his dream is about to come true — the degree from TAMU-SA he’s worked so hard for is near completion and he is prepared to take that next step in life. He begins to seek out job opportunities with different companies and finds an interest,  but then a realization sets in. He discovers well-paying jobs are more scarce than he thought. Then a complicated question arises: Is the job market ready for him? Is it ready for other TAMU-SA graduates?

When it comes to metropolitan areas in the U.S. with a population of more than one million, San Antonio places seventh in lowest unemployment rates at 7.8%. The national average rate for unemployment is 9.6% and Texas’ unemployment rate is 8.2%. So, how will 2011  graduates fare in the local job market? And, if jobs are as scarce as they seem to be, how come more of our graduates aren’t fleeing for other job markets out of state?

To answer those questions, on the minds of graduates and city leaders, we ought to consider the University’s student population. A high proportion of our enrolled students have children registered with local schools. Those parents have full and part-time jobs during the day that help fund their higher education. Between the hours of 4-10 p.m. attendance at the University reaches its peak during weeknights. All these factors explain the University’s nontraditional campus atmosphere.

It’s easy to see that our University students need assistance with job placement. And the city of San Antonio needs those well-educated students to support its economic livelihood and future growth. 

Melissa Sanchez, a 2010 Communications Program graduate is a good example of a student who is ready to re-invest in San Antonio, the city where she was born and raised.

“I wanted to stay in San Antonio after I got my degree,” Sanchez said. “I rely heavily on my family and my ultimate goal was to stay here.”

Current and former students like Sanchez have families who reside in San Antonio. They have children who are firmly rooted in the local school districts. They have extended families who rely on them for support.  For Sanchez, and others, there is not  a strong incentive to go and seek employment outside the city. But there is a strong incentive to stay here, give back to the community, invest in the schools and  and help further the city’s economic development.

Sanchez’s story can’t be backed up by data, at least not yet. Numbers aren’t currently known in regards to former graduates and if they leave San Antonio for employment.

“Currently we don’t have information on graduate students,” said Douglas Carter, executive director of University Affairs. “We are moving in that direction.”

San Antonio is slowly making its way back up from the recession. Businesses are seeing profits they haven’t seen in a few years. As San Antonio recovers, students need to be proactive in their research.

It’s important that students know who they are, what they want, and where they want to go. And, if they want to stay in San Antonio – as thousands do – it’s never too early to assess what the future holds.

Take advantage of Career Week and what it has to offer. Also, talk to advisers and ask questions on how to prepare for a job interview or how to submit competitive resumes. Students who are currently employed should talk to advisers about their degrees and discuss advancement opportunities within those companies. San Antonio’s job market is getting tougher every day. It’s never too early to start that next step in life and put that degree into good use.

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