The Student Employment Office is located in OM 285. They are a good  resource for students who are looking for a job. Photo by Erik Simkins/The AS Review

The Student Employment Office is located in OM 285. They are a good resource for students who are looking for a job. Photo by Erik Simkins/The AS Review

By Matt Crowley/The AS Review

For students, finding a job in Bellingham is harder than ever. With Washington’s unemployment rate climbing closer to 10 percent and the recent closings of The Hempest, Paris Texas, Swell and numerous other local businesses, the job market can look pretty gloomy.

Fortunately, Western has plenty of services to help worried, jobless students. The Student Employment Center, located in Old Main 285, offers several free resources for students looking for part time work, whether on or off campus, work study or non-work study. For students looking for full time work, the Career Services Center, located in Old Main 280, is available for not only job and internship opportunities but career counseling and workshops as well.
Arguably the greatest resource the SEC offers is through their Web site, where postings for jobs available in Bellingham and the surrounding areas are listed.

“I believe the job postings to our Web site are the most valuable resource we offer to students who are looking for part time employment opportunities,” said Caryn Regimbal, the Student Employment Center and financial aid manager.  “We do our best to keep those postings accurate in terms of closing positions when they have been filled and posting them, with a very quick turnaround from the point the employer has submitted the job to the Student Employment Center for review.”

Regimbal also noted that while there have been some noticeable changes in the local job market since the recession hit in late 2008, the SEC has still received plenty of job postings for students to choose from and are currently beginning to post full time summer positions.

However, while the job postings may not have taken a major hit, state work study positions might take a big one soon.
“The state work study program, which is managed by the Higher Education Coordinating Board, has increased over the past several years, but not at a rate that keeps pace with the increase in wages,” Regimbal said. “The Governer’s current budget proposal includes the suspension of state work study for the 2010 to 2011 academic year.  We don’t know yet if this will be approved.”

The recession has hit the CSC as well, according to Director Tina Loudon. Fewer employers at career fairs has resulted in lower revenue for the center and Loudon says the thinning job market can decrease students’ confidence.

However, the CSC has plenty of resources to help students with their futures.

“The job search process can be pretty overwhelming. There’s a lot of information out there, a lot of Web sites. … I’d say one of our key resources are the staff,” Loudon said.

The CSC also conducts annual surveys of all of Western’s graduates to see where they are and where they are going in their careers.

“Obviously we graduate a lot of teachers every year,” Loudon said. “We also have a lot of students that are very service-oriented. … Every year AmeriCorps is one of our largest employers.”

Both Regimbal and Loudon had advice for students struggling to find a job in such a harsh climate. A big tip? Be flexible, whether you’re looking or working. Also, be patient.

“Don’t expect it to be the perfect job. … Think of it as a stepping stone that will lead to your perfect job,” said Loudon, who added that while your first job may not be perfect, it shouldn’t be a job that doesn’t excite you at all.

Regimbal and Loudon stressed the importance of not only having a resume, but having an updated one. And make sure that resume shines; it’s best to list things that make you stand out from the crowd.

“Obviously it’s a buyer’s market. … When an employer hires they are going to go after the best that they can get,” Loudon said.

In a time with such an unpredictable economy and job market, it may not seem like we have a lot of control. But with enough hard work, worrying about rent and bills and tuition can become a thing of the past.  Loudon said they have a saying in the CSC: “It’s never too early, it’s never too late.”