Economy reduces employers attending UNLV's career fair

Imagine that you are young. That you are smart. Educated. Ready to take on the world.

You have worked hard on a college degree. You graduate.

And then you enter the world everyone else created for you.

That is a world in which the economy has tanked. The one where there are no good jobs left. The one that the government is trying to fix by spending approximately a gajillion dollars (that your generation will someday have to pay back).

Would you be optimistic?

Well, yes, you probably would be. You are young, after all.

"This thing has got to turn around at some point," said Christian Pollock, 21, who is about to graduate from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a bachelor of science degree in hospitality management.

This year's graduating class -- numbers aren't available yet, but it will certainly be thousands of students -- is entering an economy like none has in decades. Unemployment in Nevada is at historic highs, nearing 10 percent.

Eileen McGarry, executive director of career services at UNLV, said attendance by employers at this year's spring career fair is expected to be about one-third lower than last year.

She said 180 employers showed up at last year's fair. This year, 114 have signed up so far. The career fair, where graduates can hook up with employers, is scheduled for Thursday.

In years past, "We often weren't able to meet employers' demands," she said. "It's almost done a complete turnaround in a year."

Bobbie Barnes, director of career services at UNLV's Bob Boughner Career Services Center in the hotel college, said the job hunting is no better in the hospitality field than it is anywhere else.

"There are still jobs out there, just not as many as in past years."

She advises students looking to enter the work force that they might have to take lower level jobs than they would have liked. Someone wanting a front desk job at a hotel, for example, might have to settle for working in a ticket office.

When the economy picks up, perhaps they'll get moved up in the company.

And she advises students who already have low level jobs not to quit.

"You want to stay where you're at and get some great experience," she said. "It's a tough market out there."

Pollock, the optimistic hospitality major, said he's been hoping to get into a management training position. But he knows he might have to take something else for now.

"The smartest thing would be to take an hourly job with an ideal employer with the understanding that you could enter management later," he said.

Pollock said he's gotten two job offers. One is in Singapore for very little money. The other is in California, but he said it is not a great job.

"It's a challenge," he said.

Vik Sehdev, who is about to graduate with a civil engineering degree, has been working on campus in an unrelated job.

He's anxious about the job market, because the engineering field has taken a big hit in the economy.

"I need to find a real job," Sehdev said.

"I'm doing everything I can. I'm just getting my name out there."

Sehdev knows that, eventually, he'll go back and get a graduate degree. It's sort of required in the field, he said.

Because of the economy, he might get that degree sooner than he had planned.

He said there's a 50-50 chance he'll be back in school next semester instead of in the work force.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake or 702-383-0307.