Overheard Thursday at UNLV’s spring career fair, where representatives from 121 companies and hundreds of job seekers mingled.
At the Disney booth: "It’s not the most impressive pay, but …"
From an IRS guy: "We have just two positions open …"
From the woman touting Yellowstone Park’s summer work program: "With the economy and everything … I know some positions are open … but …"
And so it went for most of the day, with hungry graduates competing for a slice of what everyone knows is a shrinking job pie.
"I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was 7 years old," said Sarah Litterer, 23, who graduated from UNLV a whole year ago and is still looking for full-time work.
Litterer browsed from booth to booth, desperate for something permanent.
She’s a temporary U.S. Census worker, and she’s substitute teaching now and then. But she really, really wants to teach full time.
But nobody’s hiring.
Back when she started college, the Clark County School District could hardly keep up, hiring so many new teachers every year. Now, hiring has almost stopped because the district wants to avoid the possibility of layoffs if the budget cuts get worse.
Litterer and the hundreds of other alumni and soon-to-be graduates and alumni went from booth to booth at the Thomas & Mack Center, grabbing brochures and shaking hands.
Gaming, health care, retail, government, nonprofits, technology companies, airlines, hotels, food service outfits. They were all represented.
Eileen McGarry, UNLV’s executive director of career services, said attendance by employers at this spring’s fair was higher than in the fall but about a third lower than last spring.
Many of the companies are hiring, but often it’s for low-level jobs. Or they’re just networking, hiring interns, meeting potential employees for down the line.
"They’re all looking out into the future, when things turn around," she said.
Verizon Wireless is hiring, with a plan for the future.
Their rep for the southwest, Mindy Swan, said they’re hiring in their retail leadership development program. That means is they want college graduates to start out in customer service, move into sales, and eventually into management.
"It’s a great start," she said.
Talaat Osman has gotten his start, but he wants more. He’s 42, originally from Sudan. He’s been a U.S. citizen two years and currently works the front desk at The Venetian.
But he wants to get into management. He’s graduating in December with a hotel management degree. He’s got a background in accounting, he said, and he speaks Arabic, all of which should make him pretty marketable.
"You go to college because you want to advance," he said.
The job market in general is awful, McGarry acknowledged. But the unemployment rate for college graduates usually runs about half what it is for the general population.
So, graduates, it could be worse.
Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.UNLV Spring Career Fair