Employers choose experience, contacts instead of high GPA

Saundra Myers

Entry-level computer science jobs are heading overseas, causing a tight job market for those graduates looking for entry-level work.

Outsourcing is making the field of information technology more competitive, said Adrian Sannier, professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering. He said outsourcing happens when companies give business, such as customer service or security, to an outside company that specializes in that type of service.

Companies are outsourcing quality assurance and customer support because of inexpensive labor and high-level knowledge in other countries — database jobs are going to India where they can be done just as well but for less money, Sannier said.

Gloria Cain, academic adviser for the department of computer science, said students with grade point averages above 3.0 are having trouble finding jobs because they cannot get experience employers are seeking. She said students need to find experience, even if it means being a lab monitor, because it so important to employers.

Networking may be one method for getting a job and staying employed.

Sannier said he tells his students they need to let co-workers and clients know what skills they have and keep in contact with past employers, clients and acquaintances. This creates a “safety net” to fall in during a tough job market, he said.

James Wendel, senior in computer science, said he considers himself lucky to have had an internship.

“I went to the job fairs starting my freshman year so I could get myself familiar with talking to the reps, to know what they were looking for,” Wendel said.

He said his networking at career fairs paid off when he was offered an internship from a company that was not going to hire an intern due to budget constraints. Although Wendel has not accepted a job, he said he has made many contacts through his internships and is not worried about finding one.

Wendel blames part of the tight job market not on outsourcing but on a flooded job market.

He said he believes the computer science industry is still growing and that jobs will go to the best people with the most experience. His advice to those looking to get into computer science is to be ready to do what it takes to rise to the top — be prepared to be a lab monitor and to network.

If employers can choose between a candidate with a high GPA and no experience and someone with a mediocre GPA who has experience, the job will go to the one with experience, Wendel said.

Despite jobs going overseas, students are highly employable, Sannier said. He said the trend in the job market may not fully affect students when they graduate, but will in five to 10 years.

“Leaving school, your skills are cutting-edge, and students will work cheap,” Sannier said.

However, students may run into troubles in the future when they decide to stop learning. People need to stay updated and diversify their knowledge or become jobless, he said.

“People have to keep continually learning, never getting comfortable,” Sannier said.